Kan Yan

Kan Yan (Backward Society Education – BASE): Kan graduated with a BA in Plan II from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006. During this time, Kan conducted research on the education of Turkish students in Berlin, interned for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former-Yugoslavia, interned for the Texas Speaker of the House on state education, and worked part-time for an anti-private prison campaign. After he graduated, Kan undertook a year of exploring, teaching, traveling, and learning languages. He then enrolled in Harvard Law School where he studying for a joint degree (with the Fletcher School) when he undertook his AP fellowship. In 2008, Kan advised a Karen NGO working on land issues within Burma. After his fellowship, Kan wrote: “It was really nourishing in a way I can't quite put into words.”

Defining the disempowerment of Tharus

24 Jul

Well, I just learned there are a series of required blog posts that I didn’t know about. So here goes!

BASE, the organization I am partnered with, works to empower all marginalized groups within their districts; however, they focus on issues affecting Tharu people. Tharus are one of the indigenous people of Nepal. In 1854 Jung Bahadur, the first Rana prime minister of Nepal, developed the Mulki Ain, a codification of Nepal’s indigenous legal system which divided society into a system of castes. The Tharus were placed at next to the bottom( lowest touchable, above untouchables) of the social hierarchy. Their custody of their customarily held land was taken away, disrupting their community and displacing the people. In the 1950s, World Health Organisation helped the Nepalese government eradicate malaria in the Terai region. This resulted in immigration of people from other areas to claim the fertile land, making many Tharus virtual slaves of the new landowners and developing the kamaiya system of bonding generations of Tharus families to labour. The Kamaiya system was only formally outlawed by the government of Nepal on July 17 of 2000. The implementation of this policy by the government was slow, and BASE played a lead role in freeing ex-Kamaiyas from their owners. While prior to 1983, most Tharu children worked for landlords instead of going to school in order to repay their parents’ loans, today, most of the child labor in the regions I’ve been working in have been Tharu due to the poor economic conditions that the ex-Kamaiyas have experienced coming out of bondage without sufficient livelihood support.

Posted By Kan Yan

Posted Jul 24th, 2009

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