31 Michelle Yesudas
Fighting For Justice
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.”