31 Michelle Ye­su­das

Fight­ing For Jus­tice

Prestige (Malaysia) - - Hublot -

Although be­com­ing an ac­tivist and lawyer was not part of her ini­tial plans, Michelle Ye­su­das was set on her path after read­ing books by Arund­hati Roy and Han­nah Arendt that framed the is­sue of hu­man rights in a strik­ing, ac­tion­able way, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for her to imag­ine do­ing any­thing else. Be­ing ex­posed to the no­tion of how dis­en­fran­chised com­mu­ni­ties and un­der­priv­i­leged mi­nori­ties in dif­fer­ent coun­tries face more bar­ri­ers to eq­uity when jus­tice is orig­i­nally meant to be blind also pushed her to con­tinue pur­su­ing her ca­reer in law.

As the se­nior le­gal ex­pert for the In­ter­na­tional Com­mis­sion of Ju­rists (ICJ) based in Yangon, Michelle counts her­self for­tu­nate to be en­gag­ing with a wide range of stake­hold­ers in­volved with hu­man rights and le­gal re­form, some of which in­clude the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice, other lawyers and mem­bers of civil so­ci­ety. “From watch­ing clients re­unite with their fam­i­lies after be­ing held in de­ten­tion to speak­ing with po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers in Myan­mar about their ex­pe­ri­ences and the role they play in le­gal re­form, I’ve been very priv­i­leged to meet many in­spir­ing, hard- work­ing, and self­less in­di­vid­u­als,” Michelle shares.

Be­fore tak­ing up a po­si­tion in the ICJ, Michelle was a Masters of Law grad­u­ate from Univer­sity of War­wick that served in the Malaysian hu­man rights ini­tia­tive Lawyers for Lib­erty. Cur­rently, she is also a cam­paign con­sul­tant for Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore, the Philip­pines and Brunei un­der Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, her fo­cus be­ing free­dom of ex­pres­sion, de­fend­ing hu­man rights, and fight­ing against the death penalty. “Ev­ery mo­ment of my work has been mem­o­rable for me and im­pacted me in some way.”


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