Human Rights Study Project Students Return to Myanmar

Students Research Human Rights Issues In Southeast Asian Country Marked By Ethnic Strife
Cowan Fellows

Human Rights Study Project members explored Railay Beach in Thailand prior to beginning work in Myanmar: Bonnie Cantwell ’19, Anna Searcey ’18, Clare Myers ’19, Chase Lindsey ’19, Jordan Silversmith ’18, Daniel Murdock ’19, Cecilia Dieuzeide LL.M. ’18 and Katerina Siefkas ’18.

April 2, 2018

Eight students in the Human Rights Study Project at the University of Virginia School of Law put the books aside and spent two weeks in Myanmar, also known as Burma, over winter break to study the country’s nascent government in person.

Members of the student-run group, called Cowan Fellows, research human rights in the field to learn about issues facing a country or region. This year marked the group’s 16th annual trip.

“Our goal was to learn alongside the people of Myanmar as the country establishes rule of law in a newly founded civilian government,” Bonnie Cantwell ’19 said. “A highlight of the trip was our visit to the University of Dagon, where we met with Burmese law students.”

The students also met with local experts from the legal field and nongovernmental organizations on a variety of topics, including the peace process, federalism, social entrepreneurship, legal training and historic preservation.

A previous set of fellows journeyed to Myanmar in 2015, making it the only location the student-run group has visited twice.

The Cowan Fellows will present their research and elaborate on their experiences April 11 at 11:30 a.m. in the Purcell Reading Room.

Photos by Bonnie Cantwell ’19 and Cecilia Dieuzeide LL.M. ’18

  • Hot air balloons

    The ancient city of Bagan, Myanmar, has more than 2,200 stupas (dome-shaped Buddhist shrines) and temples dating to the 11th century. Several students surveyed the landscape by hot air balloon.

  • Students wearing longyi

    The “longyi” is a traditional piece of Myanmar clothing that is commonly worn in the present day. Several law students selected fabric in the market place and had longyis made by local seamstresses.

  • Project members visited the University of Dagon in Yangon for research and discussion.

    Project members visited the University of Dagon in Yangon for research and discussion.

  • A view of the Sule Pagoda from a bridge in Downtown Yangon, Myanmar.

    A view of the Sule Pagoda from a bridge in Downtown Yangon, Myanmar.

  • Sule Pagoda

    The Sule Pagoda is believed to have been built more than 2,600 years ago.

  • Kandawgyi Lake

    Kandawgyi Lake is an artificial lake in Yangon, Myanmar.

  • Wet market

    The household economy of Yangon centers on “wet markets,” which are outdoor markets for fresh produce and meats.

  • A shrine in Shwedagon Pagoda

    A shrine in Shwedagon Pagoda. Myanmar is one of the most devout Buddhist countries in the world.

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