Wednesday, September 18
2013 Oak Fellow Lecture: The Plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya People
Maung Maung Than and Mya Nandar Aung
7pm | Diamond 122

In western Myanmar, a Muslim minority faces persecution by Buddhist extremists and an unsympathetic government. Communal violence has displaced 140,000 Rohingya, pushing them from their homes and forcing them into makeshift camps. Human rights groups have called this the worst case of ethnic cleansing in decades. Our 2013 Oak Fellows, Tony and Nandar, will address this problem.

Wednesday, October 16
Contending Approaches to Communal Violence in Rakhine State
Ardeth Thawnghmung, Professor of Political Science at University of Massachusetts, Lowell
7pm | Diamond 122

This talk focuses on the socio-cultural, economic, and historical roots of communal tension and violence between the Buddhist-Rakhine community and Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine state in western Burma. It draws attention to the two seemingly irreconcilable approaches adopted by the Buddhist-Rakhine community, the Burmese government, and segments of Burmese opposition groups, on the one hand, and Muslim Rohingyas and international communities on the other hand. It demonstrates how the zero-sum approaches adopted by the two opposing sides have not only failed to address the roots of the problem, but further exacerbated social unrest. The talk offers a more nuanced and comprehensive analysis of the issue by looking at the complicated relationships among the Muslim Rohingyas, the Buddhist Rakhine, Buddhist Bamar, and the successive Burmese governments.

Tuesday, October 29
Oak at 16: Future Directions for Human Rights at Colby
7 pm | Diamond 122
Now a gangly teenager, the Oak Institute for Human Rights is undergoing analysis. We hope to assess where we’ve been and, most importantly, where we are going. This panel, which gives us a unique opportunity to take stock of our successes and failures, includes our current Fellows (Mya Nandar Aung and Maung Maung Than, from Burma), two previous Fellows (Ushari Khalil, 2002, from Sudan; and Nancy Sanchez, 2007, from Colombia), and a student (Katy Lindquist, ’14) who has been active in Oak for the past three years.

Monday, November 4
Women’s Empowerment and the Environment in Rural Ethiopia
Visiting Women’s Rights Advocate from Ethiopia: Tizezew Shimekach Sisay
7 p.m. | Ostrove Auditorium

Co-sponsored by the Colby College Environmental Studies Program, the Oak Institute for the Study of International Human Rights, and the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement
Interventions targeting women can be the key to improving social outcomes (e.g., education)and environmental outcomes (e.g., improved agricultural practices, reduced deforestation) in poor rural communities. Drawing on her extensive experiences in both government and nongovernmental sectors, Tizezew Shimekach Sisay will describe the many social and environmental challenges of natural resource governance in Ethiopia, as well as specific social and environmental challenges facing women in rural communities.  She will also describe her recent efforts combatting child marriage practices – part of a broader effort to empower women as key economic and environmental actors in rural agrarian communities across Northern Ethiopia.

Wednesday, November 6
Counterterrorism and Human Rights in the US: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Andrea Prasow, Senior Counterterrorism counsel, Human Rights Watch
7pm | Diamond 122
Prasow will discuss several areas of US counterterrorism policy including detention and trial of terrorism suspects, lack of accountability for human rights abuses during counterterrorism operations, and targeted killings. Prasow will draw on her experience representing men detained without charge at Guantanamo Bay, including Salim Hamdan – Osama bin Laden’s former driver and the subject of the only contested military commission trial to date. Finally, Prasow will explore President Obama’s pledges to change US counterterrorism policy and ask whether those have been fulfilled.

Wednesday, December 4
Oak Event on Belonging
7:30pm | Diamond 122
This year, the Oak Institute’s theme centers on refugees and internally displaced persons. Oak has hosted two Oak Fellows, Maung Maung Than and Mya Nandar Aung, who have dedicated their lives to advocating for the rights of internally displaced Rohingya within Myanmar. As the semester ends, Oak wants to bring issues surrounding refuge and belonging a bit closer to home. This event is for students to share personal stories related to issues of belonging, identity, and refuge. Three students, Angie Cross, Tashi Palmo, and Precious Hunt, will share their stories and then we’ll open up the floor for discussion related to the topic. All are welcome to attend and participate.