Burma has recently become the focus of immense international attention since the release of the prominent opposition leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi from under house arrest. While the country has been struggling under military rule which bans all human rights activities, including the words themselves, this does not mean that there is no hope.
Human Rights Now has been operating Peace Law Academy (PLA) in Mae Sot, Thailand, in cooperation with an exile lawyers’ NGO, the Burma Law Council in order to provide educational opportunities to motivated young individuals and help them on their way to become leaders of the future. PLA offers accommodation and comprehensive education on law, human rights, international human rights, humanitarian law, as well as other legal skills to young Burmese who are selected from refugee camps in neighboring Thailand and all around Burma. The selection procedure takes into account particularly vulnerable populations including women and minority groups, and ensures selected candidates come from various locations evenly. Human Rights Now revived the school in 2009 after it closed its doors due to financial difficulties, and has sent in professional law practitioners to deliver lectures to the students.
Grassroots efforts are essential to promote and accelerate democratization in Burma. Human Rights Now believes that investing in the education of young leaders who aspire to achieve equal human rights and democracy is vital in order to achieve this goal. The students are striving towards their goals of becoming law practitioners or leaders of their ethnic groups and tribes, and to be part of the effort to create a peaceful nation that protects the rights of its citizens. These students, some of whom can come from various opposing groups, learn to respect each other during their two years of education, and they graduate with the aspiration to reconcile conflicts and restore peace among various groups of people. Providing these young individuals with an opportunity to obtain an education from professionals, including law practitioners from Japan, has a big impact, and our mission continues to help provide fruitful results.
We continue to press towards our goal to educate more individuals for a brighter future in Burma by providing opportunities to young leaders to follow the road that Aung San Suu Kyi paved.