“Research is the Soul of the University”

suyin2_720Su Yin Htun, assistant lecturer at Taunggyi University, has come from Myanmar to spend three months in Lund to participate in the RWI fellowship programme. During this time, she will finish her research on legal protection of internally displaced persons in Myanmar.

Su is responsible for a number of different things at her university. Besides teaching, she is in charge of class preparations, exams, and even campus sports activities.

But now her research on legal protection of internally displaced persons in Myanmar is the focus.

For her research project, Su has chosen to focus on persons displaced as a result of Myanmar’s extensive mining business, which is the country’s second largest industry.

“I started this research project in 2012 for my Ph.D, and this year will be the last. I found so many human rights issues. The mining has both economic, social and environmental impacts,” she says.

Su’s research objective is to maximize the benefits of foreign investment and minimize the human rights violations. “I really want Myanmar’s economy to be promoted without any problems,” she says.

Human rights issues because of large scale mining projects

The mining industry in Myanmar sometimes forces groups of people to leave their villages and move. “During displacement people face many difficulties. The right to life, right to security and the right to dignity are all issues that are not always being met,” Su says.

In some cases, the mining companies build new villages for the people that have to move because of their business. But not always.

“It’s very important that the local people get their right to life and security. It can sometimes take nine months before they can move into their new homes, and that period of time is very important from a human rights perspective,” she says.

Hopes with the fellowship program

During her time spent at RWI in Lund, Su wants to learn from the teaching methodology, case studies and theories used at the Master’s Programme in International Human Rights Law in Lund to be able to bring back new perspectives to human rights education in Myanmar. And Su’s main focus is clear. “The research is the soul of the university,” she says.

“I want to help the students and my university, and I want to promote the Myanmar education sector.”

Su says that a lot of work is done to improve issues of human rights in Myanmar, though more needs to be done. She sees the opportunity of participating in the fellowship program as a step forward for further development. “In Myanmar, we are really interested in RWI programs, because they always focus on human rights, a term that is sometimes looked upon as very specific, but that I think is very broad as it includes the rights of children, women, persons with disabilities, and so on. My aim is to raise the public’s awareness on human rights issues, and my goal is actually to create a committee to work on that.”

The challenges of human rights work in Myanmar

The biggest problem, Su says, is that many people in Myanmar don’t know how to respect human rights, and if violations are made, they don’t know where to turn. The answer to this, Su says, is education. “I want to explain this to the public – how to respect human rights.”

Su in front of the Convocation Hall of Yangon University in Myanmar.
Su in front of the Convocation Hall of Yangon University in Myanmar.
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