Human Rights education – Burmese style

When an authoritarian regime claims that it needs to educate its people about human rights, the reaction of most outsiders is to laugh or scoff. After all, human rights are universal. However, a Democratic Voice of Burma interview with Dr. Than Nwe, a member of Burma’s new Human Rights Commission, actually raises an important point. According to Dr. Than Nwe, the commission has begun receiving petitions. However, most of the petitions ask for help resolving issues clearly outside the commission’s jurisdiction, such as family issues. Of course, this is just one anecdote from an admittedly partial source, but it is certainly worth thinking carefully about how and when to conduct human rights education. Hopefully, now that the U.S. is engaging with the new regime, U.S. NGOs might – one day – be able to provide this education.

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