Kirsten Han is a freelance journalist and Editor-in-Chief of New Naratif, a platform for Southeast Asian journalism, research, art and community-building. She also curates We, The Citizens, a weekly email newsletter covering Singaporean politics, social justice and civil society.
Originally trained in film and video production, Han got her introduction to journalism while working as an assistant producer on documentary projects. She began freelancing, mostly in print and online journalism, in 2012. Although largely focused on her hometown of Singapore, she has also covered stories from countries like Greece, Scotland and Malaysia.
Han has covered a wide range of topics - from general news to business, and even architecture but tends to gravitate towards the themes of social justice, civil movements, human rights and democracy. Her features, reports, and op-eds have appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Asia Times. In 2019, her essay The Silhouette of Oppression was published by Epigram Books.
Outside of work, she is a founding member of We Believe in Second Chances, a group advocating for the abolishment of the death penalty. As part of the campaign, she tells the stories of death row inmates and their families, and also volunteers her time as a case worker to work with the families of inmates.
In 2016, she was named the Advocate of the Year at the Singapore Advocacy Awards, both for her work as a journalist as well as her role in the anti-death penalty campaign. She was also named a Champion of Gender Justice and Equality at the AWARE Awards that year. In 2018, she received an Honourable Mention for the World Justice Project’s Anthony Lewis Prize for Exceptional Rule of Law Journalism. In 2019, she won a Human Rights Press Award for her commentaries on “fake news” and freedom of expression.
Han is a staunch ally of the LGBT community and has written numerous articles advocating equal rights for LGBT Singaporeans. In honour of her allyship, she was invited to give a speech as one of the Community Voices during Pink Dot 2017.
- Tufts Fletcher School, USA (June 2016), ICNC (International Centre of Nonviolent Conflict) Summer Institute at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
- Cardiff University, Wales (September 2012 – September 2013), Master of Arts – Journalism, Media and Communication
- Chevening Scholar
- School of Authentic Journalism, Mexico (March 2012), Workgroup: Investigative Journalism
- Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand (2009), Bachelor of Arts (Honours) – Film, Graduated with First Class Honours
- Waikato Institute of Technology, Hamilton, New Zealand (July 2006 – November 2008), Bachelor of Media Arts (Communications) – Moving Image
Han is fluent in English and Mandarin Chinese, and writes in English. She is also skilled at using computer software such as Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, iMovie, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Pages and Keynote.
- Excellence in Communications – First Year, Excellence in Contextual Studies, New Zealand Writers’ Guild Award for Excellence in Screenwriting – Third Year
- Editor-in-Chief, New Naratif (9 September 2017 – )
She commissions features from around Southeast Asia, as well as writing stories. She also works on community-building initiatives and events.
- Senior Communications Officer, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, Singapore (11 April 2016 – 1 July 2017)
She assists MSF Hong Kong on a part-time/freelance basis with the development of a communications strategy, as well as building a communications and media network in Singapore.
- Freelance Journalist (March 2012 – )
She multi-tasks and works as a journalist, a writer, a community manager, a project manager, a fixer, a videographer and a photographer as and when necessary. My bylines have appeared in publications like The Guardian, ABC News, Al Jazeera English, Southeast Asia Globe, Waging Nonviolence and The Diplomat, among others.
- Singapore stringer, Deutsche Presse Agentur (January 2014 – August 2016)
As dpa German press agency’s only correspondent in Singapore, she covered breaking news and features.
- Blogger, Asian Correspondent (March 2012 – April 2013)
She wrote short blog posts and news updates on current affairs in Singapore.
- Deputy Editor, The Online Citizen, Singapore (1 July 2011 – 31 October 2011)
She assisted the Interim Chief Editor in vetting/editing articles, as well as coordinating volunteers. I also contributed to the site in terms of articles, photographs and video, and was an administrator of the Facebook page.
- Production Assistant/Assistant Producer, Lianain Films, Singapore (1 March 2010 – 28 February 2012)
Her duties included researching stories, handling the logistics of productions (confirming schedules, setting up interviews, etc.), helping out on both local and overseas shoots, digitising and transcribing footage, assembly editing, sound mixing and handling administrative matters such as deliverables and accounts. She also helped to supervise interns.
- Co-Founder, We Believe In Second Chances, Singapore (August 2010 – )
A youth-led campaign against capital punishment in Singapore, the NGO researches and tell the stories of death row inmates. It also organises events and forums to try to encourage more discussion on the death penalty in Singapore.
- Contributor, The Online Citizen, Singapore (February 2010 – June 2011)
Bibliography of LGBT articles
This article was written by Roy Tan.