University Honors Vet Osheroff

June 1, 2010

The University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights has chosen two students to receive human rights awards in honor of Lincoln vet Abe Osheroff and his wife Gunnel Clark. This year’s winners are graduate students Erin Murphy and Peter Morris, each of whom will receive $750 toward their international human rights project.

Erin Murphy is pursuing a joint MA in Public Affairs in UW’s Evans School and International Studies in the Jackson School. Last year, she participated in an innovative study abroad program created by Prof. Joel Ngugi, Associate Professor of Law and Director of UW’s Africa studies program. This program, entitled “Health, Human Rights, and Social Transformation,” lasts for three quarters and culminates in students’ conducting their own human rights project in conjunction with Kenyan organizations; it is designed to forge lasting ties between the University of Washington and Kenyan human rights groups.

Abe Osheroff

Last year, Erin and several of her peers had the opportunity to meet members of the Ngecha Artists Association, a group dedicated to using art to advance dialogue around important human rights concerns. Erin took on a leadership role in bringing some of their artwork to Seattle to host a show in January 2010. All proceeds from this show went to the artists and their community arts center fund (video here). At the artists’ request, Erin created a website, With funds from the Osheroff-Clark Fund, Erin will return to Kenya this summer to continue work with the Ngecha Artists Association.

Peter Morris, a JD/MA student in Law and Southeast Asian Studies, will use support from the Osheroff-Clark Fund to work with Human Rights Now (HRN), a Japanese NGO that has played an active role in addressing Burma’s refugee crisis and other human rights issues in Asia. Morris has prior experience in this region, having conducted research on human trafficking in Japan at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies as well receiving a Master’s Certificate in China Studies from Johns Hopkins’ Center in Nanjing, China. He has served previously as an intern with Burma Lawyers’ Council, an NGO in Thailand that provides legal assistance to Burmese migrants and advocates for democracy and human rights in Burma.

Last year, Morris worked on the creation of the Peace Law Academy, an institution designed to teach aspiring Burmese lawyers exiled in Thailand about human rights and international law. This year, he plans to continue that work, aiming to impart students with tools they can use to provide legal assistance to Burmese migrants in Thailand and to advocate for democracy and human rights in Burma through non-violent means.

(For more on the fund, see here).