< Distinguished speaker series

Tom Andrews & Wai Wai Nu

"Is the world letting Myanmar down?" & "Atrocity and Genocide Prevention in Myanmar"

DATE: September 15, 2022 6:00 pm

Event information


Tom Andrews
U.N. special rapporteur for Myanmar
​”Is the world letting Myanmar down?”

Wai Wai Nu
Rohingya Burmese activist and former political prisoner
“Atrocity and Genocide Prevention in Myanmar”

Is the world letting Myanmar down?


Myanmar’s best-known champion of democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts to bring democracy to the place once known as Burma. Her National League for Democracy party won the 2015 elections, the first openly contested election in 25 years, and in the November 2020 election, won in a landslide. The military rejected the result and staged a coup. Today she sits in jail in solitary confinement.  On Sept. 2 she was sentenced to three years at hard labor on top of other sentences, all by secret trial.


This is Myanmar today: 11,500 people in jail for opposing the coup, 700,000 including 250,000 children displaced from their homes, 1400 children arrested. In late July, the Junta executed four democracy activists despite worldwide protests.


Myanmar was in the headlines five years ago for deporting 900,000 Rohingya in what U.S. State Department says was a genocide.  The military leaders behind the genocide are the military leaders of the current Myanmar Junta.


Our coming speaker, Tom Andrews, fears the world has forgotten Burma. The former Democratic congressman from Maine, who’s currently the U.N. special rapporteur for Myanmar. notes that the junta has picked up support in the region and beyond, with arms flowing in from China, Russia and Serbia and diplomatic support from India. He says it’s not enough for major powers to sanction the “gangsters.” There needs to be a coordinated international strategy to isolate the junta and to pressure it in a very public way.


Our second distinguished guest speaker is Wai Wai Nu, who spent seven years as a political prisoner in Myanmar. Her crime was that she’s a Rohingya from Rakhine state whose father is a political activist. She founded the Women’s Peace Network and has traveled the world speaking about the plight of Rohingya women and girls. She told the U.N. Human Rights Council this summer that some 600,000 Rohingya live in apartheid like conditions in  Myanmar. The junta has attacked them with airstrikes, arbitrary arrests, torture, sexual violence and killing.


The picture is grim. But anyone who cares about human rights in Asia should hear Tom’s and Wai Wai’s presentations to learn what’s going on in Myanmar.