Conference on Rohingyaforum


Inside the old Mosque

Inside the old Mosque

Photo Image: Nora Rowley


Rohingya Forum Speaker Biographies

Abid Bahar is Vice-Chairman of South Asia Watch, a human rights organization, and is Professor in the Department of Humanities at Dawson College in Montreal. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Religion at Concordia University, with a specialization in Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. He is the author of Burma’s Missing Dots: The Emerging Face of Genocide and Searching for Bhasani, Citizen of the World: The Life and Times of Mozlum (Earnest) Leader Maulana Bhasani, as well as numerous articles and book chapters on Burma, Bangladesh and India.


Greg Constantine is an independent photographer from the United States, based in Bangkok. For the past seven years he has been working on a photographic project called Nowhere People, which documents stateless minority groups around the world. He made eight trips to southern Bangladesh since 2006 in an effort not only to document the struggles and neglect the Rohingya endure as unrecognized refugees, but also to expose stories of Rohingya that can open up a window into their legacy of abuse, discrimination and intolerance as a stateless people in Burma. The photographs exhibited here are from his book, Exiled To Nowhere: Burma’s Rohingya (


Thibaut d'Hubert is Assistant Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, where he teaches Bengali language and literature. He is also an associate researcher with the Unité Mixte de Recherche 7528, Mondes Iranien et Indien, in Paris. The subject of his dissertation was an analysis of the poetics of the works of Ālāol, a prolific author of the mid-seventeenth century who lived in Mrauk-U (in modern Myanmar) and translated texts from the Hindustani and Persian into Bangla.His main field of research is the history of Bangla literature and its interactions with other literary traditions. His research interests include editing premodern Bangla texts, translation studies, poetics and cultural history. Besides critical editions of some Bangla, Sanskrit and Persian premodern texts, he is currently working on a book project on Ālāol and Bengali court literature in Arakan and is coordinating a multidisciplinary project on the reception of the works of the Persian polymath of Herat, ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Jāmī (1414-1492).


Patrick Keenan is Professor in the College of Law at the University of Illinois and heads the College’s International Human Rights Clinic. His scholarship explores the connections between human rights, economic and financial regulation, and international law. His most recent work examines the ways that sovereign wealth funds and financial regulation affect human rights and social welfare. His publications include “Sovereign Wealth Funds and Social Arrears: Should Debts to Citizens Be Treated Differently than Debts to Other Creditors?,” in the Virginia Journal of International Law; “Toward a Multilateral Sovereign Investment Agency,” co-authored with Professor Christiana Ochoa, forthcoming in the Georgetown Journal of International Law; “Curse or Cure? China, Africa, and the Effects of Unconditioned Wealth,” in the Berkeley Journal of International Law; and “Financial Globalization and Human Rights,” in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law.


Jacques P. Leider is a research scholar and head of the Chiang Mai centre of the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), a French research institute in the field of Asian studies.  Trained as a historian and history teacher, Leider specializes in the early modern history of Burma and has published on the history of Arakan and early modern Burmese history and Buddhist kingship. He has done research on Arakanese manuscripts in Yangon from 2001 to 2006.


Nora E. Rowley, M.D., M.P.H., is a human rights activist. Upon return to the United States, she has worked to increase her own and others’ understanding of the human rights situation in Burma, especially the plight of the Rohingya.  Through work and independent and formal study for a Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins, she has worked to improve the human rights, health and well-being of vulnerable populations, including refugees and survivors of torture, severe human rights violations and domestic abuse.


Matthew Smith is a researcher at Human Rights Watch ( based in Southeast Asia and focusing on human rights in Burma. He is the author of several Human Rights Watch reports and has published widely on issues related to human rights, including in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other outlets. He previously worked with Ms. Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and with EarthRights International, where he was project coordinator of the Burma project from 2005-2010 and later served as a senior consultant to the organization. Matthew holds an M.A. in human rights and religion from Columbia University and a B.A. in political science and philosophy from Le Moyne College. You can follow him on twitter @matthewfsmith.


Wakar Uddin is Professor of Plant Pathology and Pennsylvania State University, as well as Chairman of the Burmese Rohingya Association of North America, founded in 2010 to work with the United States and Canadian governments and various NGOs to alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya in Myanmar and elsewhere. Dr. Uddin is also Director General of the Arakan Rohingya Union, founded in 2011 from twenty-five distinct organizations representing the interests of the Rohingya people of the Arakan region, in order to provide a joint advocacy of Rohingya rights in Myanmar.


Benjamin Zawacki is the Southeast Asia Regional Representative of the International Development Law Organization, an intergovernmental body focused on human rights and the rule of law. For five years through August this year, he was an Asia Researcher for Amnesty International, with which he was responsible for all human rights research and advocacy pertaining to Thailand, Myanmar, and regional emergencies.  He previously worked with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Jesuit Refugee Service in Thailand and East Africa. His publications range from opinion editorials to legal journals to institutional reports, and he has been extensively quoted in both regional and global media.  He has a law degree from the George Washington University Law School and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.