9. Wai Wai Nu — Rohingya (Burma)
Nu, a Rohingya Muslim, served seven years as a political prisoner in Myanmar because of her father’s pro-democracy activism. She was arrested during her second year of law school and served time in Myanmar’s infamous Insein prison.
According to the State Department, Nu and her family were quickly convicted in a closed-door hearing and were not granted any legal representation. Additionally, they were not granted the right to an appeal.
Nu was released in 2012.
She has been an advocate for the persecuted Rohingya community as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been forced from their homes in the Rakhine state by Myanmar’s military since 2017 and are now living as refugees in neighboring Bangladesh with no immediate hope of returning in sight.
Nu is the founder of the nonprofit Justice for Women, which seeks to provide legal aid to women in Myanmar.
“The Rohingyas are facing ethnic cleansing and genocide in Burma,” Nu told reporters. “The religious persecution and discrimination against the ethnic minorities in Burma, it's come along with military’s agenda of Burmanizations of the state. It’s a similar form of persecution to all ethnic and religious minorities. However, the only degree and intensity and form of persecution are different.”
“All of our ethnic and religious minorities are facing a similar form of severe persecutions by the Buddhist nationalists,” she added.