This is not Myanmar junta leader General Than Shwe
The military junta leader of Myanmar (Burma), (senior) General Than Shwe, went on a multi-day visit to India. While there, Than Shwe (responsible for widespread human rights violations in Burma, including the detention of thousands of prisoners of conscience) received a most marvelous gift from the Government of India, a bust of Mahatma Gandhi, the “apostle of non-violence.” Surely the sense of irony is lost on the victims of human rights in Burma.
So, again a hearty congratulations to the leader of Myanmar junta Than Shwe for the successful trip to India and a special congratulations to the Government of India for undermining the shreds of hope for the people of Myanmar. It’s a job well done– I hope the Government of India enjoys the undeserved fruits of its cynical foreign policy until human rights comes to Myanmar. And then…?
UPDATE: Check out Amnesty’s brand new action page on Myanmar: Stand with the People of Myanmar. Demand they be given the three freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association. Also, show your support on twitter by start using #3freedoms
August 8, 2010, marks 22 years since Myanmar’s massive crackdown against student protesters, resulting in the deaths of 3,000 and the detention of countless opponents of the military junta. Although 8/8/88 remains a disheartening defeat, it also continues to symbolize the hope for change.
Similarly, in 2007, citizens took to the streets again to wage anti-government protests. However, this time, the demonstrations were led by thousands of monks, heralding the movement as the “Saffron Revolution” due to the color their robes. Within weeks, the military brutally squashed the peaceful protests, evoking international condemnation and outcry.
That outcry was only made possible by the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), a non-profit media organization based in Norway, which filmed the events with hand cameras and smuggled the footage out of the country for international broadcasting. They communicated to the world the tense atmosphere, desire for basic human rights and desperate hope that Myanmar experienced in August and September 2007. The reporters of DVB took great personal risk to give the international community unprecedented access to the political and social atmosphere in Myanmar.
Cameras vs. Guns
Yesterday, I finally got a chance to watch Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country, an Academy Award nominated documentary created from the footage captured by the Democratic Voice of Burma during the “Saffron Revolution.” The documentary is incredibly powerful and inspiring; Burma VJ highlights more than the overwhelming human rights abuses present in Myanmar by emphasizing the everyday devotion to freedom as well as the great personal risks that ordinary citizens assume to record political events. While emotionally poignant and insightful, Burma VJ also chronicles the challenging footsteps of video journalists in Myanmar in their quest to capture the truth. The desperate expectation for change is evident in the documentary and reminiscent of the political and social environment of August 8, 1988.
To catch a glimpse of daily life in Myanmar and view human rights activism and advocacy at its finest, watch Burma VJ. The documentary, produced by Anders Østergaard, was just released on DVD in the United States, so update your Netflix queue, sit back and get ready for some serious human rights activism!