After publishing an “incriminating” poem involving a former president, Maung Saung Kha was arrested for online defamation and criminal insult on 5 November in 2017. The poem took the attention of a staff member of then-president Then Sein, who immediately ordered his arrest.
Myanmar has a stringent history of denying its citizenry their freedom of expression through its policies. In fact, Saung Kha’s arrest was made possible by the Article 66(D) of the 2013 Telecommunications Law.
Eventually, due to numerous protests, along with the old promise of freedom by National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Telecommunications Law was revised in 2016. However, these revisions still fall short of the freedom the Myanmar people were hoping for.
Are You Ready is a 2-minute animated film that provides an overview of the Article 66(D) and its impact on the freedom of speech of the Myanmar people. Providing a short historical review of the past cases under the article, the film aims to showcase how the article is prone to abuse by authorities who would want to avoid and repress dissent. Moreover, it hopes to reiterate that while the article has been used to penalise dissenters, its ambiguity can also be used to target ordinary people.
Are You Ready premiered last 15 December in Yangon and has been screened at the Myanmar Digital Rights Forum. Under a Creative Commons license, the film is available for download for any purpose whatsoever.
Watch the video here:
Download a high resolution screening version with English subtitles from here (123mb).
EngageMedia is seeking short film submissions to include in a video-based interfaith and minority rights outreach and engagement project across Myanmar via online and mobile platforms, and through screenings in Mandalay Division and Yangon.
The initiative will work with local and national partners to deepen understanding of minority rights and interfaith issues, provide minority communities and activists with video engagement tools, and directly support campaigners seeking to draw attention to these critical issues. The outreach and engagement program will take place from October to December of 2016.
Rules & Regulations
- The film addresses issues relating to minority rights, religious tolerance, land grabbing, war and violence, including sexual violence in Myanmar or Southeast Asia
- Duration of the film should be 5-10 mins
- Copyright to the film should belong to the filmmakers themselves (The films will be published as a DVD collection, will be screened in Myanmar, as well as used for other outreach in Southeast Asia)
- Must include English subtitles if the film is not in English
- HD quality
Deadline for submissions is 5 November 2016.
Please send a short synopsis and a link to your film to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every 17 July, people observe the World Day for International Justice (International Justice Day) to recognise the strengthening system of international justice. The day unites professionals, activists, and citizens around the world who wish to support justice, promote the rights of victims, and help in preventing crime that threatens peace, security, and the well-being of the world.
In 2012, EngageMedia published a video by Nerve Macaspac depicting the participation of the Cambodian-American Survivors of Genocide in the Khmer Rouge Trials conducted by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Starting in 1975 (the regime’s “Year Zero”), the Khmer Rouge devastated Cambodia in its effort to create a utopian agrarian society. The Khmer Rouge regime, under the leadership of Pol Pot, carried out the The Cambodian genocide. From 1975 to 1979, it resulted in the deaths of over 1.6 million people or about a fourth of Cambodia’s 1975 population.
The ECCC was established in 2003 and worked towards a model for post-conflict cooperation and reconciliation. However, after over a decade of trials and spending more than $300 million, the ECCC could sentence only three defendants, and the last verdict was on November 2018. Many families of the victims still await justice.
The second video by MalaysiaKini is an interview with award-winning British Filmmaker Callum Macrae, who, with his investigative documentary "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields," exposed atrocities committed against civilian Tamils during the end of the Sri Lankan civil war.
The Sri Lankan government continues to reject the allegations of war crimes, and justice has not been done.
The third video, created by Democratic Voice of Burma, is an interview of Rohingya migrants at an internally displaced camp in Myanmar. They described their failed attempt to flee the country to escape poverty and persecution.
The Rohingya refugee crisis is a series of ongoing persecution by the Myanmar government against the Muslim Rohingya people. It has forced over a million Rohingyas to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, and they are eagerly waiting for their return – and justice.
One goal of International Justice Day is to promote international criminal justice, especially through support for the International Criminal Court (ICC). It is an independent international judicial institution capable of trying individuals accused of the most serious violations of human rights, which include the genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. On July 17, 1998, 120 countries of the world adopted the Rome Statute, creating the ICC.
To achieve justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity, we need organisations like the ICC to function without hindrance and find justice for the victims around the world so that crimes like these can be prevented in the future, and for those who commit them to be held accountable, achieving justice for everyone.
Based on MCMAHT’s reports, the area is home to many who become migrant workers in neighborhood countries like Thailand and Malaysia. We found it fitting then, to screen films from Crossroads, our collection of advocacy videos on migrant workers, refugees, and stateless people in Malaysia.
Beginning our Journey
At 10am on a Monday morning, I, Kyalyi from EngageMedia, and MCMAHT volunteers departed from Yangon by bus and we arrived at the town of Zeekone at about 4pm. Kwin Sann village is located in the vicinity of Zeekone, but we had to travel for two hours on motorcycles to get there. We arrived safely at Kwin Sann at 6pm.
Most of people in the village are of Catholic faith, Karen ethnicity and speak the Karen language. Thankfully for me, one of the characters from a film of mine is a Karen girl, so I was familiar enough with their language.
On Tuesday, I visited the village leader’s home to get permission to screen our films there. I was delightfully surprised that they chose to screen the films in the area where they congregate to pray, called “a Holy Place for Mary”.
The area faces a sever lack of electricity and the people there can only get power from small solar generators. We faced an issue in making our projector work and finally we had to think of an alternative. Some of the villagers have small TVs with 14-inch screens, but I decided that it would be better to screen the films from my own laptop which has a screen of almost 16 inches.
I’ll never forget how much I worried about the battery life of my laptop for the screening the next day. But by a stroke of luck, using one of the small solar generators somehow worked out.
The Screening Day
At 5pm on Wednesday, after candlelight prayers, the MCMAHT volunteers and I started began the much-anticipated screening. We opened with the filmed, ‘In Search of Shelter’, a film about Myanmar refugees and migrant workers in Malaysia. In this video, a Karen man talks about the issues facing migrant workers in hopes that villagers who often “export” such workers would better understand them. We also showed the films, ‘Here to Help’, ‘Polis Pao’, ‘Siti Got Cheated’, ‘Trap’ and ‘Forsaken’.
The audience, which consisted of men and women aged 10–74, engaged in a lively post-screening discussion and answered a questionnaire on the issues raised in the films. A resource person from MCMAHT spoke in further detail with the villagers about official documents and how individuals looking to become migrant workers can better protect themselves.
One of the villagers who came back from Malaysia said that he is really afraid to ever go to Malaysia again because of the police there. He shared that was always staying and hiding in the darkest corners of the factory in which he worked for only three months before returning to Myanmar.
His account served as a stark reminder of the realities faced by migrant workers throughout the region, and we were glad that the screening of films from Crossroads helped to spark such dialogues in remote locations where even watching television is considered a luxury.
The shock effect after Snowden’s revelation has stopped. And it just stopped there. Except for a few journalists who are now using encrypted emails not much has changed. Security experts are juggling with words and acronyms like Securedrop, TOR, PGP and many others, but how many journalist are actually paying attention to these matters? Let alone who is really digging into these security measures and has started using them.
Even worse, many say all is back to basics. We just use the pre-existing threat models.
Around the globe, more and more journalists are being harassed, censored and monitored, all with the aim of stopping them from being able to continue their work. In the field we see that most threats are local threats. Not threats from higher level surveillance, although linkages between the two most likely exist, journalist state that they deal with these threats on a local level.
Local thugs, local mayors or politicians, local dictators, these are the common enemies of journalists.
Also there’s a new phenomena where journalist can't protect their sources. It has become easy for anyone to find out who the journalist's sources are, to discover who is providing him/her with data and information. Journalists need to be aware about the digital footprint and information they are releasing from their stories. Also they need to be aware to protect their research and data, including their work spaces. For example by paying attention to the security situation of their own desk and office. Also there is a need to protect recordings, tapes, smartphones, laptops and other personal things journalists carry with them while working.
In the meantime, journalists should also protect their own personal information as much as they can. Where they live, in which part of city they are working and so on. Another important issue is protecting their identity on social media. Actually most of these steps are included in journalist manuals on journalist ethics and guidance, in reality a lot of data surrounding journalists are easily available online.
For example, regarding the digital protection in an office, questions that need to be answered are
What are the considerations for using encrypted emails?
Who will we contact if there is a security problem?
Is there a security expert or reliable person around who can help?
Does our country denounce email encryption?
Does the State regard users of encrypted emails as illegal activists?
We need to know, what kind of threats journalists face in their home towns. Again this is related to the threat model discussed earlier. Below a list of question regarding local threats
Are you using PGP or Signal or other chatting apps? Why?
What are your considerations in choosing between Whatsapp versus Signal as a chatting app?
Is the password you are using safe?
Do you know how to create better passwords? Or should you opt for an app that offers more security?
The most basic and important fact related to all these issues is, that journalists need to change their behavior. But we all know that it is hard to change a person’s behavior. Let alone a journalists’ behavior, as they are always chasing deadlines and in need for quick bits of information. Usually the hardest question to ask oneself as a journalist is that one: am I willing to change my behavior?
This Blog is based on a dialog at Secure the News: A Dialogue on How to Protect the Future of Journalism.
March is the month when people across the world celebrate International Women's Day.
This year's theme, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change,” calls for the involvement of the experiences and insights of women and girls in the development of technology. With the aim to close-in gender gaps, the campaign hopes to mobilise beyond initiatives that focus on women–it seeks to overturn institutions and narratives that dictate the status quo.
EngageMedia has recently collaborated with women who are critical voices in the digital rights movement: Kyal Yi Lin Six, a documentary filmmaker who co-founded a digital rights organisation for in Myanmar; Shubha Kayastha of body & data, an organisation that focuses on intersection of gender, sexuality and digital technology in Nepal; and Chinmayi SK of The Bachchao Project, a community that tackles solutions to issues on gender and technology in India.
In the absence of inclusive online infrastructure and policies for women, Kyal Yi, Shubha and Chinmayi have worked towards mobilising and educating women on their human rights, and how these rights are translated on the internet.
Envisioning a gender-balanced society, EngageMedia reiterates its unwavering commitment in establishing just and accessible spaces for everyone–we will continue working towards a feminist internet.
Since our recent Video4Change gathering (V4C) was the first of its kind in Indonesia, we made some observations and received feedback on design of the gathering.
We gathered video makers from different backgrounds with varying level of expertise. This became a plus point for us because there provided diverse perspective to the discussions. But it also posed a challenge, however, as they had different level of understanding and awareness about video its use in advocacy. So, instead of going deep into discussion about impact, we had to start with an open forum to ensure everyone understood basic concepts. Our recommendation for other such gatherings would be to start with basic discussions about video, advocacy and impact at the very beginning so everyone is familiar with the concepts and terminology.
Gathering participants in a single location helped a lot with keeping up with the workshop schedule and the participants' needs. Some participants were also interested in learning some technical skills from each other. Organising pre and post events on skills-share would also prove useful.
Other difficulties we faced included not having well-accepted definitions of terminologies like impact, indicators and evaluation. Providing participants reading materials on such issues before the event could help with this, as well as more materials in local languages.