"I can't believe that I attended this camp. It's my first experience of a very creative camp", said Pan Myat Zaw, a journalist from Mizzima of Camp Chindwin, EngageMedia's Southeast Asia Video Camp in Bago, Myanmar.
The camp, which aimed to be a space for video activists and filmmakers from Myanmar to meet, interact and collaborate with video and filmmakers from the rest of Southeast Asia, brought nearly 40 people together in an interactive learning and collaboration environment for three days.
The participants were invited not only to learn from us, but to share their own experiences and discuss with others to understand our greatest challenges and opportunities. And to that end, the event was a great success, with the over 100 topics that were brought up.
One of the sessions I’d like to highlight is the discussion on violence against women, which was a collaborative effort between Dhyta and myself from EngageMedia, and filmmakers Nway Zarche from Myanmar and Ilang Ilang from the Philippines. We talked about how violence against women is one the main social problems in Myanmar today, and one person pointed out that out that even if we promote women’s rights, women in Myanmar women still don't have a basic concept of what they are. We collectively agreed that we have to conduct some activities for awareness of women’s rights in the near future.
And in that spirit of collaboration, the participants of the various sessions identified problems and suggested solutions. One of participants from Myanmar, filmmaker Thet Oo Maung said, “It’s a great camp for networking. We can gain a lot of knowledge by sharing with each other. Our region faces very similar issues and people in Myanmar can learn a lot from the experiences of other Southeast Asians. After what I’ve learnt from this camp, I have to try doing many new things."
The favourite moment for the participants was the “Banana Dance” by Prakkash from WITNESS. As a result of him teaching us how to “dance like a banana”, a group of camp-mates produced a cute short film called, ‘Kwayy Zuu Banana’ (Thank you Banana).
Everyone agreed that this very fruitful event shouldn't be our last chance to meet and work together, as there are still many ideas from it that need to be implemented.
With best regards from Myanmar,
I just got back from the EngageMedia's Southeast Asia video camp, Camp Chindwin in Yangon, Myanmar. We spent three fun days together, making many new friends from all across the region, sharing lots of skills and experiences, and trying out new food!
The camp-site itself, Bago Center, was quite unique with a kind of forest-kampong (village) scenery. And it is run by communities that live nearby. The locals were very warm and hospitable, and they served us delicious Burmese food which was almost always a mix of natural flavours and healthy vegetables.
Camp Chindwin was run in an unconference style, where all participants get a chance to join and propose their own sessions for sharing or discussion.
In one of the sessions, we learnt about new and secure apps for video production from our friend Arul Prakkash from WITNESS. Another cool session was a 101 introduction to video making with Kim Buy and co-production that was held by Josep Laban, an experienced filmmaker from the Philippines. And these were just some of the many interesting discussions that took place!
Even though the camp has ended we still have so much homework to do, including maintaining and nurturing this network of Southeast Asian video activists in the hope that someday soon, we will get to meet again!
Warmest regards from Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia,
Upon invitation from the Not34 Film Club, Crossroads, our video collection on migrant rights was screened with local activists in Penang, Malaysia. Penang, a Northern state which is one of the top tourist destinations in the country, hosts a great number of migrant workers seeking work in the businesses and development projects there.
The screening focused on the films Polis Pao and Perangkap, both of which were produced by Muhammad Mundir, an activist from the migrant community and participant in the Crossroads project, who also traveled up to help facilitate the discussion.
Polis Pao is a comic recreation of migrant run-ins with the police in Malaysia, including a local businesswoman's perception of the whole situation, while Perangkap tells the stories of two undocumented women migrant workers who are sexually harassed by some errant members of the police force.
The Malaysian audience found much they could relate to in both films, as police corruption and the abuse of authority are issues locals have to deal with on a constant basis as well. The activists also expressed that the equal rights of workers, such as minimum wage, should be basis for advocacy by locals and migrants alike.
The Not34 Film Club is keen to partner with EngageMedia to screen more films on migrant and other human rights to widen the discussion on social change in Penang.
Over the past month, Marcel Simok, one of the participants in Crossroads, our advocacy video project on migrant rights in Malaysia, has been holding screenings of the collection across Sabah, East Malaysia.
His travels brought him to several remote locations in the vast island of Borneo, where he shared and discussed the content of the films with various communities.
The first event was conducted with a selected group of NGO activists who are working on issues related to the plantation workers there, many of whom are migrants from Indonesia.
Next was a screening to students, teachers and volunteers in a school that was independently built to provide education to the children of migrant workers in Sabah. This was was an especially interesting event for the audience as the film Marcel had produced for Crossroads, 'School of Hope', was about the story of the school itself.
The last screening was held in a common area in the hills where many migrant workers gather. A feast was served for the attendees, who expressed after during the discussion that they found much relation to what fellow Indonesians were going through in the Malaysian peninsula.
Education opportunities for children who had followed their parents abroad was the main issue brought up at all the screenings in Sabah, one that remains critical and unresolved.
Crossroads, our collection of advocacy videos on the rights of migrants in Malaysia, was screened for the first time in Yangon, Myanmar.
A select group of 15 people attended the event, which was targeted at representatives from the independent media and migrant worker support organisations there.
The screening focused on the film, 'In Search of Shelter', which tells the story of how asylum seekers and refugees from Myanmar unite and combine resources to establish access to basic services like health clinics and primary schools for their children in Malaysia.
Members of the media such as Mizzima, Messenger Journal, and DVB had several questions on the production of the project, with Kamayut Media having published a video report which is available here.
Labour Rights Defenders & Promoters (LRDP) is keen for Crossroads to be screened during their training sessions in the industrial zones they work in, and we are looking forward to facilitating those and more similar events in Yangon in the near future.
Migrants and locals gathered in a village in Kota Kemuning, Malaysia, for a screening of Crossroads, our advocacy video collection on migrant workers, refugees and stateless people in the country.
The cosy event, which was held over a home-cooked dinner, was a good example of the communal spirit of the many community we've held over the year in villages or kampungs, as they are more commonly referred to in Bahasa.
The videos screened portrayed the many realities of migrants living in Malaysia and spoke to the heart of the community in attendance. They discussed having faced similar situations themselves, and in some cases, shared how they've overcome them.
To end the night, the audience wrote down their hopes and aspirations, reflections they've had after watching the films, as part of the Crossroads photo campaign which will be publicly available as a collection in June. Crossroads is available with English subtitles for online viewing and download here.
၂၀၁၅ ခုနွစ္အတြင္း မွာ EngageMedia ရဲ့ အယ္ဒီတာအဖြဲ႔ဟာ ျမန္မာလူမႈေျပာင္းလဲျခင္းဆိုင္ရာ ဇာတ္လမ္းဗီဒီယိုမ်ားကို စုစည္းျခင္း၊ ဘာသာျပန္ျခင္း၊ ျဖန္႔ေ၀ျခင္း မ်ားျပဳလုပ္ခဲ့ပါတယ္။
ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံရဲ့ လူမႈႏိုင္ငံေရးကို ေဖာ္ညႊန္းတဲ့ ဗီဒိယိုဖိုင္မ်ားကို ေကာက္ႏႈတ္တင္ဆက္ခဲ့တာဟာ အခုဆို ဗီဒီယိုေပါင္း(၁၈၀) ရွိခဲံျပီျဖစ္ပါတယ္။
Students Boycott Education Law (အမ်ိဳးသားဥပေဒကို ေက်ာင္းသားမ်ား သပိတ္ေမွာက္ျခင္း)
The Children of Bhamo's Brickworks (ဗန္းေမာ္ျမို႔က အုတ္သယ္ကေလးေတြ)
Monk Rejects Preaching Ban (တရားေဟာရန္ တားျမစ္ခံရေသာ ဆရာေတာ္)
A Song for Freedom (လြတ္လပ္ျခင္းအတြက္သီခ်င္းတစ္ပုဒ္)
Earlier in May, we collaborated with SAFENET to host an event in Jakarta, Indonesia, for members of the public to discuss the topic of digital rights and the issues surrounding it, along with a screening of Citizen Four.
Those present agreed that state sponsored surveillance, where a government with unlimited resources is specifically spying on your activities, is the worst scenario someone can find themselves in. However, we weren't only looking at high profile cases, but also at privacy awareness at wider, subtler, and even cultural levels.
We discussed privacy as having quite a different meaning in the Asian cultural context, and the boundaries and parameters to specify what kinds of activities can or can't be considered as trespassing rights or privacy. For example, how many people in the region are often very welcoming, opening their doors and inviting strangers into their homes, or when meeting someone new on public transportation, asking many questions on matters that would be considered private to a person from the West. This may relate to how "open" they are on social media platforms such as Facebook.
That dialogue was followed by the screening of Citizen Four. The film featured Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) employee who became a whistleblower on the dubious activities of the organisation, such as its mass appropriation of public data for its own political agenda. The discussion held after the screening touched on some critical points such as exactly who is spying on us, the rights of the public, and also how best we can defend ourselves against invasions of privacy.
It was a very fruitful event, but everyon agreed that it wouldn't be our last meeting, as there are still many related issues that need to be explored and work that needs to be done to spread awareness on them. And one of the events we're looking forward in that regard is 1st Global Feminist Hackathon, which we'll be participating in on 23 May!
As part of EngageMedia's outreach work in Myanmar, our editorial team been working throughout 2015 to collate, translate and distribute critical videos from the country.
Our collection currently features 180 videos, and here we'd like to highlight some key content that gives insight into Myanmar's socio-political situation.
Students Boycott Education Law
The Children of Bhamo's Brickworks
In the conflict zone of Bhamo, Kachin children work alongside their parents in a riverside brickworks where families are struggling to make ends meet. Watch
Monk Rejects Preaching Ban
Despite a ban by his government-appointed seniors, an outspoken monk says he intends to keep on preaching if called upon by the people. Watch
A Song for Freedom
The song 'Freedom', which features a trio of local rappers, puts a beat to Myanmar’s recent reforms, and the hopes that youth have for the future. Watch
These are the highlights of our Myanmar content, but you view the rest of our growing collection here, and contribute subtitles in more languages too. Also look out for news from our Southeast Asia Video Camp, happening in Yangon this June!
Despite being formerly banned and operating in exile, Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) have captured some of Myanmar’s most historical moments on camera. The media organisation got international attention after the award-winning film, 'Burma VJ', which shows the work of their secret video reporters during the Saffron Revolution.
DVB continues to present videos on Myanmar's political process, the different regimes, conflicts and aspirations of the people. We highlight some videos from their collection below.
Aid Exodus: Rohingya Children Face Malnutrition
Muslim Rohingyas living in shelters in Burma's violence-plagued western Arakan State state have said they are facing a severe lack of nutrition as a result of aid workers evacuating from the region following attacks on their homes and offices.
The United Nations describes the Rohingya as one of the world's most persecuted minority groups. The Myanmar government denies them citizenship, arguing they are relatively recent migrants from the Indian sub-continent.
In recent years, the flaring conflict has led to thousands of Rohingya fleeing the country on boats for refuge, with many being stranded at sea.
The Dark Heart of Burma's Drug Epidemic
Palaung communities in northern Shan State are suffering from the effects of an even greater upsurge in opium cultivation than in previous years.
Local paramilitary leaders, some now elected into Burma’s new parliament, are being allowed to cultivate and profit from drugs in return for helping the regime suppress ethnic resistance forces in Burma’s escalating civil war.
As a result, drug addiction has escalated in the Palaung area, tearing apart families and communities. Burma’s drug problems are set to worsen unless there is genuine political reform that addresses the political aspirations of Burma’s ethnic minority groups.
Iconic Lake on Brink of Disaster
Thousands of dead fish have washed up on the banks of the Taungthaman lake on two separate occasions over the past month, signaling a deeply unhealthy natural environment.
The travellers’ day trips to the world’s longest teakwood bridge do not underpin the livelihoods of the locals living on the lake’s shore. It is an environment that sustains the families of over two thousand fishing industry workers, and hundreds more in related businesses.
Tourism officials, historians and architects have led a concerted push to save the U Bein bridge from dilapidation. But with the surrounding ecosystem on the cusp of disaster, the people of Taungthaman Lake need an environmental saviour.