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Irene Khan: Northern Ireland's own

Northern Ireland's very own Irene Khan is featured in a fascinating profile in today's Guardian (well if the Belfast media has the cheek to claim Katie Melua, then I think we are well within our rights to claim Amnesty's Secretary General).

When war wreaked havoc in Irene's homeland of Bangladesh, her parents thought she and her sister would be safer being educated in … yes, you've guessed it, early-seventies Northern Ireland.

Perhaps not the best decision of all time, but mostly sleepy Kilkeel was certainly a much safer option than war-torn Bangladesh.

Having met Irene on a few occasions, I know she is a really warm, thoughtful, astute and steely lady. Just the sort we need at the helm at a difficult time in a world far from at ease with itself.

I once drove Irene to and from an international Amnesty conference which we were hosting up at the Corrymeela Community centre on the north Antrim coast. It was terrific chance for a long chat with Amnesty's global leader – basically, a much more sober version of that one where you put the world to rights.

It was clear to me that having spent some of her formative years in a troubled Northern Ireland has definitely helped inform Irene's understanding of a troubled world. I think Amnesty is in all the better hands for that.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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