Video transcript

My name is Kyasingmong Marma.

Marma refers to my community back home in the Dongnala region in Bangladesh.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Legal and Justice Studies from Southern Cross University and that was part of the Australian Government awards, the scholarship I received.

When I did my bachelor, I did one course in human rights and also some internship in Sydney. I attended a couple of human rights conferences and I myself presented one in Byron Bay.

After graduation I went to work on human rights issues – that was in Nepal this was such a unique opportunity for me because Nepal was just coming out of civil conflict. I was interested in studying how that conflict happened and how can I coming from a neighbouring country help them out.

Currently I’m doing a doctorate in Indigenous Philosophies focusing on the justice system of our people in Bangladesh.

My long-term objective personally is to enrich my understanding of my own culture.

I want to work with indigenous communities so there can be some positive social change.

We are part of this global movement of indigenous people asserting our rights.

It’s been a great experience in a sense of where I came from and who I am now.

Kyasingmong (Mong) is from the remote village of Dongnala in Bangladesh. He belongs to the ‘Marma Indigenous Community’, who have been struggling for their rights and identities against the majority Bengali dominant government since 1972.

In 2007, he was awarded an AusAID scholarship for his Bachelor of Legal and Justice Studies at Southern Cross University.

It has been an amazing journey for Mong in his determination to overcome language, geographical and political barriers to achieve what he has.

After graduating, he began working with Peace Brigades International in Nepal as a Human Rights Field Officer where he provided protective accompaniment to at-risk human rights lawyers and defenders.

“This was such a unique opportunity for me because Nepal was just coming out of civil conflict. I was interested in studying how that conflict happened and how can I, coming from a neighbouring country, help them out,” according to Mong.

The inherent dangers involved with Mong’s studies didn’t faze him. After Nepal, he joined the Nonviolent Peaceforce in Mindanao, in the Philippines, as an International Civilian Protection Monitor. His primary responsibilities there involved monitoring, verification and reporting on ceasefire-related violence between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Mong’s focus then turned to Thailand where he joined the Indigenous Peoples Organization based in Chiang Mai as a Human Rights and Policy Advocacy Officer. He conducted advocacy work on the issues concerning Indigenous peoples’ lives and livelihoods at various regional and international forums including ASEAN and the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 2015, after years of contributing to the fight for Indigenous people’s rights in Bangladesh, and in Asia, Mong was awarded a Rotary Peace Fellowship to pursue a Masters degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland, which he completed in 2017.

“My long-term objective personally is to enrich my understanding of my own culture. I want to work with Indigenous communities so there can be some positive social change.”
He is now pursuing his doctoral studies in Indigenous Philosophies at Southern Cross University where he is researching the justice system for the Marma people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh.

“We are part of this global movement of indigenous people asserting our rights. It’s been a great experience in a sense of where I came from and who I am now.”

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