Yali Banton Heath

Inter|national section writer

Yali is currently studying for an MA in Human Rights Law at SOAS having graduated with a degree in International Development from UEA. Her writing and research focus on minority and indigenous rights, the politics of land, and marginalised groups’ access to justice. Balancing her academia and studies with a healthy dose of counter-culture and tomfoolery, if she’s nowhere to be seen in the library she’s probably sat round a fire in a muddy field putting the world to rights with an old raver over a can of Stella.


(04.02.18) – Criticism of USAID’s Legal Aid Toolkit in Myanmar

Myanmar is a country under the spotlight at the moment. Human rights abuses, allegations of ethnic cleansing, economic development and foreign investment, and piss poor freedom of speech are among many controversial issues which cast shadows in today’s political discussions. On the ground, such issues require adequate legal aid, but Myanmar’s judicial system has been in tatters for decades.


(07.01.17) – Hotspot for Environmental Killings: The Philippines Moving into 2018

A figure which always captures my attention at the end of each year is the number of environment and land defender murders that have taken place over those past dozen months.

2016 was bloody. 200 people lost their lives that year while protecting their land and natural resources. The Guardian and Global Witness have estimated that last year, in 2017, there were 185 such deaths. Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, these figures are always underestimations, as in reality far more deaths occur over land and environmental struggles than get reported.

As the country with the third highest environmental defender death toll globally (beneath Brazil and Colombia), the Philippines continues to have the highest environmental activist death toll for any Asian country. The archipelago of over 7,000 islands is seen to be one of South East Asia’s booming economies. But what will 2018 bring with regard to the country’s piss poor human rights and all too frequent environmental killings?


(26.11.17) – Business, As Usual: The Rohingya Crisis, Repatriation And Economic Interests

Content warning: ethnic cleaning, sexual violence.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have just signed an agreement which concerns the repatriation of over 600,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled their homeland in Rakhine state since August. What many are now rightfully calling out as genocide, the persecution, murder and rape of Rohingya people and the burning of their villages has left deep scars.


(12.11.17) – Japan Must Reflect On Its History If It Is To Revise Article 9

On September 25th, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe called for one of those snap elections we all know and love. Unlike Theresa May, when the results were announced almost a month later on October 22nd, Abe managed to pull through and secure himself a majority in the Diet.

Japan is now swinging heavily to the right. With Abe possessing a mandate to attempt implementation of his main objective – revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution – is the country about to embark on a dangerous path of no return?