'Perangkap (Trap)', by Crossroads participant and migrant community activist Muhammad Mundir, tells the story of two women migrant workers do not have the necessary documentation to live and work in Malaysia. The women open up about how their illegal status is used by some errant members of the police force to demand sexual favours from them.
The film was shown during a segment on 'Non-Discrimination & Equality' to an audience of over 250 people. Filmmaker Mundir was present and spoke on the issue highlighted in the film, and how the cases of the women in it are just two out of hundreds that he and other migrant worker NGOs in Malaysia have come across.
In Myanmar’s media landscape, most would observe that the reports by independent media there are focused on human rights issues. And in that regard, Kamayut Media, the country’s first private online TV organisation, delivers up-to-date.
Founded in 2012, Kamayut covers everything from political, business, social and entertainment news but continues to address the question, "What is the meaning of Human Rights in Myanmar?". Below we feature their coverage of three recent critical events.
Demands to Release Letpadaw Protesters
On 27 March 2015, a group of 100 students rallied in downtown Yangon, demanding the release of students and their supporters who were detained earlier that month after protesting a new education bill they say stifles academic freedom.
Journalists Boycott Yangon International Press Congress
Several Burmese media organisations boycotted the 65th World Congress of the International Press Institute, which was held in Yangon for the first time from 27 to 29 March 2015.
U Soe Myint, the organiser of the congress and Chief Editor of Mizzima said of the incident, “It is their right to hold a boycott, but this is not a government organised congress. Among the panelists there are government officers and National League for Democracy members. There will also be discussions between the authorities and the media.”
He added that the Congress will discuss topics of importance to the media such as press freedom and the role of media in elections.
However, as journalists have continually been beaten and unfairly imprisoned by the authorities, and because of the attendance of the Information Minister, the Myanmar Journalist’s Network urged local journalists to boycott the event.
Monk Rejects Preaching Ban
Shwe Nya War Sayadaw, an outspoken monk who has challenged the Buddhist establishment has stated that he intends to keep on preaching if called upon by the people, in defiance of a ban imposed by his government-appointed seniors.
The popular 50-year-old monk called a press conference in Hmawbi township to declare that he would defend his right under the constitution to speak freely without causing any damage to religion.
More videos from Kamayut Media are available on their video page. And if you're interested to learn more about contemporary Myanmar, its filmmakers, and journalists, look out for updates on our Southeast Asia Video Camp happening in Yangon in June 2015.
Over a weekend, our partners KOMAS held two screenings of ‘Here to Help’, one of the advocacy videos from our Crossroads collection on migrant rights in Malaysia. The film tells the story of a young Nepali man who gets his hand cut at the factory he works at, and how he struggles while seeking compensation.
The screening on the 5th of April was held in conjunction with the Nepalese Poeple's Progressive Forum which was attended by over 200 Nepali workers. It was also attended by the Nepali ambassador to Malaysia as well as the former Deputy Minister of Nepal.
The film was shown in between several speakers, who referred to its content during their presentations.
After the event on Saturday, we were contacted to have another screening the following day at an impromptu gathering at a Nepali restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.
Fajar from Tenaganita, an NGO working for the rights of migrants in Malaysia, conducted a discussion on the effective handling of medical cases with the audience of about 20 workers, before they continued with a screening of another film produced in Nepal.
Five films from the collection were screened to 35 migrant workers from Flores, Indonesia, who were engaged in a lively discussion afterwards.
There were questions from the workers on whether employers could be requested to compensate workers if they go to a private hospital in order to get speedy treatment for more serious injuries. Sometimes, employers tend to delay or not give notice on health treatment to the authorities at all, making compensation impossible to process. The workers revealed that they usually try to look for medical treatment and recovery on their own expenses.
According to Fajar from Tenaganita, employers are liable to pay the expenses of medical treatment sustained at work but it is important that workers keep all documentation such as hospital bills and have proof of their employment.
He elaborated that in some cases, third-party involvement could be of help to solve cases, such as Tenaganita itself, and the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), both of which work to protect the rights of migrant workers. These organisations could put pressure to start investigations on cases, something most employers would rather avoid.
However, it was noted that most workers at the screening had no idea of what the MTUC is and that they could register as members. Fajar recommended that they do so to protect themselves.
The workers also expressed some dissatisfaction with the Indonesian embassy, which they felt is not pro-active enough or appearing to be concerned in helping and supporting their citizens working in Malaysia.
The session ended with the workers penning down their messages and wishes to the Malaysian government on a blackboard. Photographs of their messages will be part of a Crossroads awareness campaign that is set to be launched in April 2015.
Here's sending out a big thanks to the 650 people who attended RightsCon Southeast Asia; from the high caliber participants and speakers, to the stellar programming and advisory committees, to the wide array of sponsors. It was an energizing display of the diversity of the global digital rights community that is fighting for a open and secure internet, and we hope an event that has strengthened that movement both regionally and internationally.
RightsCon provided the opportunity to connect with peers, advance conversations and strategic partnerships, and plan for the many challenges ahead. Access and EngageMedia are mapping the event outcomes, which we’ll release in the next few weeks.
Most critically for EngageMedia the event saw a deepening of existing regional networking, the development of further regional and global dialogue and a number of emerging and concrete collaborations.
In particular we were very please to see solid outcomes such as the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability; a framework of safeguards and best practices for protecting free expression online.
EngageMedia will be following up many of the collaborations and regional networking by supporting a series of day long digital rights events in Yangon, Bangok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta between June and August this year. Stay tuned for more details on those.
If you attended this year's RightsCon, please provide us with your thoughts on the event by submitting feedback in this anonymous survey.
In the next few days the RightsCon and EngageMedia websites will feature an archive of select sessions. Check back in to watch sessions you may have missed and be sure to share them with those who were unable to attend.
And lastly, a huge thank you to Access and the Foundation for Media Alternatives for a fruitful collaboration.