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Matthew Smith
Matthew Smith is the founder and executive director of Fortify Rights, an organization that works to strengthen the human rights movement by providing technical support to human rights defenders while also documenting human rights abuses. He is a 2014 Echoing Green Global Fellow. Matthew previously worked with Human Rights Watch (2011-2013) and EarthRights International (2005-2011), and with Kerry Kennedy of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights on Speak Truth to Power. His work has exposed war crimes, crimes against humanity, "ethnic cleansing," multi-billion dollar corruption, "development"-induced abuses, and other human rights violations. He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, and other outlets. He holds a M.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. from Le Moyne College. Follow him on twitter @matthewfsmith and @FortifyRights.

Entries by Matthew Smith

Myanmar's Economy Needs Human Rights Reforms

(0) Comments | Posted November 27, 2013 | 1:56 PM

After decades of political and economic isolation, Myanmar is making economic strides to address "underdevelopment," and companies, consultants, and cronies are rushing to help realize the dream.

But in Myanmar's ethnic states, underdevelopment is not only an economic problem. It's also a human rights problem, and now is the...

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Is There a Legal Right to Protest?

(5) Comments | Posted November 11, 2011 | 11:12 AM

As Americans take to the streets against the exploits of Wall Street and outsized corporate influence, untried legislators halfway across the world will decide whether to legalize freedoms of assembly and expression for their long repressed people.

The upper house of Burma's nascent parliament is debating the "Peaceful Gathering...

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In Burma, Political Survival Means Doing the Right Thing, for Now

(0) Comments | Posted October 12, 2011 | 1:56 PM

Change is coming to Burma, or at least that's the message coming out of Naypyidaw. On Wednesday, authorities began releasing 6,359 prisoners from the country's squalid prisons, a very encouraging development, although the democratic merit of the move is murky as the number of political prisoners to be...

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Time for New Approach to Burma: War Crimes Mounting

(10) Comments | Posted July 22, 2011 | 12:35 PM

The catalog of documented war crimes in Burma is growing. Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) released a damning 70-page report documenting how ordinary Burmese convicts are brutally forced by the state to carry heavy munitions and supplies for the Burma...

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The Insein Strikers Need Solidarity

(1) Comments | Posted May 25, 2011 | 3:09 PM

More than 20 political prisoners in Burma recently started a last-resort tactic of nonviolent resistance: a hunger strike. On Saturday, 17 male inmates in Burma's Insein Prison joined at least five women who had been on a hunger strike since May 17. Addressing the inhumane conditions of prison life, the...

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Green by Gunpoint: The Environmental Dictatorship?

(5) Comments | Posted April 29, 2011 | 11:22 AM

Apparently even dictators celebrate Earth Day. On Tuesday, the authorities in military-ruled Burma passed a law banning the production, storage, and sale of polythene bags in the country's main city Rangoon, effective April 22. The decree was announced by the state-run newspaper and heralded as a move to...

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Publicity, New Media, and Human Rights in Burma

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2011 | 1:22 PM

While the Internet has spelled gloom and doom for print media and professional journalism, it has dramatically expanded the communications toolkit for the promotion of human rights.

If you haven't already, check out Carroll Bogert's essay on human rights and the media in the Human Rights...

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Corruption, Kleptocrats, and Politics: Sudan and Burma

(0) Comments | Posted January 11, 2011 | 2:32 AM

Southern Sudan's vote this week for long-awaited independence from the North comes amidst fresh allegations that President Omar al-Bashir stole an estimated $9 billion of the country's oil wealth and stored it in "illegal accounts."

The source of the corruption claim is no hack. He's the Chief...

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Norway Complicit in Human Rights Abuses in Burma: New Report

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2010 | 12:27 PM

For a government so often associated with the promotion of universal human rights (just think of Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Prize last week for his "long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China"), it may come as a shock to hear that Norway is complicit in human rights abuses...

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Burma's Electoral Authoritarianism

(0) Comments | Posted October 5, 2010 | 12:10 PM

Three years ago last month was a moment of high hope for Burma's pro-democracy movement. Buddhist monks organized across major cities, towns and villages to lead throngs of citizens, young and old, on peaceful demonstrations in the streets -- an unlawful act in the military-ruled country.

Dubbed the "Saffron...

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India's Burma Policy Is Not Pragmatism, It's Realism

(15) Comments | Posted July 29, 2010 | 12:53 PM

India graciously hosted the Burmese Dictator Than Shwe this week, raising the question as to why the world's largest democracy would welcome one of the world's worst dictators, a man associated with alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Indian officials and analysts explain New Delhi's foreign policy toward...

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Oil Companies Financing Nuclear Threat in Burma, Refusing Transparency

(8) Comments | Posted June 10, 2010 | 5:23 PM

The world has a new nuclear threat on its hands; the first ever in Southeast Asia.

According to a disturbing five-year study released Friday by the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), carried on Al Jazeera, and vetted by a nuclear scientist and former director of the International...

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News Flash: Oil Companies Sometimes Lie

(0) Comments | Posted May 14, 2010 | 5:30 PM

As America's environmental catastrophe continues to surface in the oil-slicked Gulf of Mexico, critics of the petroleum industry are rightfully coming out of the woodwork. Whether it's shoddy safety records, toxic pollution, or fueling conflict and corruption, oil companies have unarguably contributed to some of the most serious...

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The UN Singles Out Big Oil in Burma, With Good Reason

(3) Comments | Posted April 12, 2010 | 4:16 PM

In a surprising report last month to the UN Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on human rights Tomás Quintana recommended an official "commission of inquiry" into possible crimes against humanity and war crimes in military-ruled Burma (Myanmar).

Although the call for such a...

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