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TU Citizen: Thyn Oo

Thyn Oo“I am the co-founder and program director for the national network of legal aid entities and bar associations called The Public Legal Aid Network (The PLAN) in Burma, also known as Myanmar. 

We are all of us together, 195 organizations. We are the national network dispatching help in three ways. We do grassroots legal aid for all kinds of civil or criminal litigations free of charge for communities. At the second tier, we engage with institutions, international organizations like the UN, and we train government entities to act in an accountable and democratic way.  

The third tier, we do advocacy work and we actually engage and put people on boards of multi-stakeholder organizations or bodies, that includes government. We change policy. We draft policies, and we are part of it.  

The coup happened February 1, 2021, so it cut off all the efforts. But in protest, we are continuing the work in exile. I migrated all these works to Tulane. 

I literally had to escape. February 28 to June 14, I was on the run with my two kids because the military was raiding and invading our offices, killing some of our colleagues, trying to chase us. We didn’t know what would happen to us. The U.S. Embassy had to come and rescue us and put us in their safe house. We've been to three safe houses, evacuated from one safe house to another. On June 14, our counterparts from UNOHCHR and the U.S. Embassy created a safe passage. They triggered a path for us to fly out of Burma to the United States. So we're here. 

I have a long relationship with Tulane Law School, especially the Public Law Center. Every summer since 2015 we have been sending delegations to the International Legislative Drafting Institute. That institute actually keeps us connected to legislators all over the world.  

When I got to Tulane, I felt so safe. So welcome. It's like coming back to your home and your family because of my relationships with the law school and the professors and my colleagues. Because I've been through many situations that were life-threatening, I think that the first overwhelming feeling is how caring, how welcomed, and how warm they are. I just felt now that I can work seriously.” 

Learn more about this TUCitizen in this Tulane Law School Article.

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