|Bangladesh Hearing - Speaker Biographies|
Peter M. Manikas
Kimber L. Shearer
Kimber L. Shearer joined the International Republican Institute (IRI) in July 2005 as the Deputy Director of the Asia Division, where she assists the Director of the Division with managing IRI's programs in Asia. Just prior to this, Ms. Shearer served as a political and global affairs officer in the Office of European Union and Regional Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, where she was responsible for managing relations with the European Union on a portfolio of issues that included Justice and Home Affairs, counterterrorism, democracy and human rights, and Latin America.
Prior to that, Ms. Shearer served as the Senior Editor for Europe and Eurasia in the Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. She oversaw the production of 52 of the Department's annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which included maintaining expertise on human rights and democracy issues in the region, and editing and negotiating the final text of the reports. Ms. Shearer also served as the Europe regional coordinator for asylum, where she was responsible for examining and commenting on asylum applications and Convention Against Torture cases for immigration judges, asylum officers and attorneys with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Ms. Shearer is a former Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) with the Department of State. During her time as a PMF, she served on three short-term overseas assignments as the Acting Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, a Legal Officer with the Office of the Legal Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, The Netherlands, and the Acting Assistant Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan. Prior to this, Ms. Shearer worked as a legal intern in the Office of Children's Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs where she assisted attorneys in developing and coordinating policies on international parental child abduction and adoption issues.
Previously, Ms. Shearer worked with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) where she assisted in the resettlement of refugees in the U.S., and implemented and coordinated an immigration project that assists refugees in adjusting their residency status. Ms. Shearer also worked for a U.S. Senator at both the central office in Washington, DC and the district office in Pennsylvania, where she supported special projects for the Legislative Director, assisted in constituent outreach, and researched and assisted with drafting new legislation.
Ms. Shearer holds a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law, where she concentrated on International Law and Public and Governmental Service. She was admitted to the Maryland Bar in December 2001. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from LaSalle University.
Sara Hossain, Esq., High Court Lawyer and Human Rights Activist
Sara Hossain is a barrister practicing in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, mainly in the areas of constitutional, human rights, and public interest law.
Ms. Hossain has represented, among others, slumdwellers seeking protection against forced evictions, women in protective custody, and journalists facing contempt of court prosecutions for reporting on judicial corruption, as well as individuals who have faced death threats and fatwas from Islamist groups; she has also been involved in constitutional challenges on censorship of books and films on minority rights issues. She has been involved in many fact-finding missions on human rights violations, including on assaults on indigenous peoples, and forcible land occupations. She currently serves as a member of the International Commission on the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
From 1997-2003, Ms. Hossain headed the South Asia Program at the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS), where she was involved in litigation before international and regional human rights tribunals (including MC v Bulgaria (European Court of Human Rights) Singarasa v Sri Lanka (UN Human Rights Committee)), training for lawyers on comparative human rights law, and convening judicial colloquia for superior court judges in the region on access to justice. She also jointly ran a multi-country research and advocacy initiative across South Asia, Europe and the Middle East on ‘crimes of honour' with a focus on legal and policy reform on the issue of choice in marriage, including advocacy on the rights of dual nationals to obtain consular support in cases of forced marriage.
Ms Hossain's has written and lectured for national and international human rights organisations and at universities in Bangladesh and the United Kingdom on access to justice, public interest litigation, women's human rights and the rise of the religious right. Her publications include ‘Apostates, Ahmadis and Advocates: Use and Abuse of Offences against Religion in Bangladesh' (WLUML, 2005), ‘Honour': Crimes, Paradigms and Violence against Women (Zed, London, 2005) (co-edited with Lynn Welchman), "Socio-Economic Rights in South Asia" (in M. Langford, Socio-Economic Rights, (CUP, 2008)), "Confronting Constitutional Curtailments: Independence of the Judiciary in Bangladesh (in Paul Brass (ed) Handbook of Politics in South Asia (Routledge, forthcoming) and Remedies for Forced Marriage in South Asia and the United Kingdom (edited), (Universal Law Books, Delhi, forthcoming).
Regionally, Ms Hossain has been involved in training programmes for lawyers and activists for the International Women's Rights Action Watch (Asia Pacific) and the South Asian Forum for Human Rights. Nationally, she is an Executive Committee member of the national human rights organization, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) (www.askbd.org) and a Consultative Group member of the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust. Internationally, she currently serves as a member of the International Commission on the Chittagong Hill Tracts and is on the Board of the South Asian Women's Fund.
Ms Hossain was educated at Oxford University and called to the Bar from Middle Temple, London.
Ali Riaz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Politics and Government, Illinois State University
Ali Riaz is Professor and Chair of the Department of Politics and Government. He joined Illinois State University in 2002. Prior to joining Illinois State University he has taught at Claflin University in South Carolina, and the University of Lincoln in England.
He was an Assistant Professor at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh between 1993 and 1995, and a Lecturer between 1984 and 1987. Ali Riaz earned his PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawai'i in 1993 under the East West Center fellowship.
He also has MA in Communication and MA in Political Science earned in 1989 and 1991, respectively. He was awarded the ‘East West Center Honor' Award in 1990.
Dr. Riaz was a Research Fellow of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore. His research topic was the role of telecommunication in economic growth of Malaysia and Singapore.
Dr. Riaz has an extensive experience in journalism. He has worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service for five years, as Producer and Senior Broadcast Journalist.
His research interests include Islamist politics, South Asian politics, community development, and political economy of media. He has six books in English and more than a dozen books in Bengali. His publications include Islamist Militancy in Bangladesh: A Complex Web (Routledge, 2008), Paradise Lost? State Failure in Nepal (with Subho Basu, Lexington Books, 2007), Unfolding State: The Transformation of Bangladesh (de Sitter Publications, 2005), God Willing: The Politics of Islamism in Bangladesh (Rowman and Littlefield, 2004), 'State, Class and Military Rule: Political Economy of Martial Law in Bangladesh' (Nadi New Press, 1993).
Professor Ali Riaz earned the College of Arts and Sciences first Dean's Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement 2004 and Outstanding College Researcher Award 2005. Riaz received Pi Sigma Alpha Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006.
Asif Saleh, Executive Director and Founder, Drishtipat
Asif Saleh recently retired as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs in London to be the full-time managing director of Drishtipat, a Bangladesh human rights organization he founded in 2001. Drishtipat is an active force in the Bangladesh diaspora, with branches in nine cities on four continents, and numerous programs and fundraising initiatives that focus on human rights and humanitarian relief. Drishtipat's blog has been named one of the most influential in Bangladesh by leading newspaper The Daily Star, and members of the Drishtipat Writers' Collective are frequent contributors to numerous print publications. Asif writes regularly for leading daily newspapers in Bangladesh and in international magazines on society and politics. His articles and editorials have been published in The Guardian, Himal, The Daily Star, and New Age, among other publications. In August 2008, Asif was selected as the delegate representing Bangladesh for the Asia Society's "Asia 21 Young Leaders" program in Tokyo.
Shapan Adnan, Associate Professor of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore
Sachi G. Dastidar, Professor of Politics, Economics & Law at the State University of New York, Old Westbury
Professor Dastidar has been teaching and working in the fields of urban planning, public administration, and economic development for over thirty years. Partition, independence and subsequent socio-political changes in newly independent South Asian nations are of special interest. Professor Dastidar has has lectured widely, taught in the United States, Kazakhstan, and India, and is the recipient of numerous fellowships and grants, including the Distinguished Service Professor award of the State University of New York and a Senior Fulbright grant to Kazakhstan.
Professor Dastidar received his doctorate in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University at Tallahassee, his Master's of City Planning from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur, and his Bachelor of Architecture from the Bengal Engineering College of Calcutta University, India.
Selected publications include the following:
Empire's Last Casualty: Indian Subcontinent's Vanishing Hindu and Other Minorities, Firma KLM
Publishers, Kolkata (Calcutta), India, 2008.
Living among the Believers: Stories from the Holy Land down the Ganges, Firma KLM Publishers,
Kolkata (Calcutta), India, 2006.
"From the First Indian War of Independence (1857) to Another War of Independence to more Wars
of Independence: The 150 year Lesson of Union, Division to Further Vivisection," in First War of Independence, edited by History Department of Peshawar University, Peshawar, Pakistan (Forthcoming)
"One Hundred Years of Banga-Vanga - The Partition of Bengal: 1905-2005," in Bengal - Past and
Present, a forthcoming book in memory of Prof. Priti Kumar Mitra, History Department,
Rajshahi University, Bangladesh, 2008.
"October 16, 1905: A Forgotten Date of Indian/Bengali History," Journal of the Annual Conference
of Campaign Against Minorities in Bangladesh, February 11-12; Kolkata (Calcutta), 2006.
"On Centenary of Colonial Religious Partition: British Administration Partitioned Multireligious
Bengal into ‘Muslim' east and ‘Hindu' west," News-India Times, October 14; 2-3, 2005.