On 13 August, we screened Crossroads, our video collection on migration, and other relevant videos from Southeast Asia in Bangkok, Thailand, to discuss the methodology and impact of community video and advocacy in the region.
A diverse group of individuals attended the event, which was held at the Ma:D Hub for Social Entrepreneurs, one of the most popular spaces where members of Thai civil society gather to work, share, and collaborate.
This event was organised following an invitation to learn from EngageMedia's experiences in working with community media by the Thai participants at the Mekong ICT Camp, where we ran a series of workshops on the use of social media for social change.
Screenings of the short videos were part of an interactive presentation, where the socio-political background of each video was explained first, followed by a sharing of its process of production and the kinds of impact it made, and an open discussion.
We focused on the work on the Crossroads project, which the attendees found intriguing and inspiring, as they feel that community/participatory video has yet to happen in Thailand. A request was made for EngageMedia to hold a "training of trainers" and possibly collaborate on a video project in the country, which we're enthusiastically looking into.
ဒီသင္တန္းကို တက္ျဖစ္ခဲ့တာ ယံုေတာင္မယံုႏိုင္ဘူး။ ဒါက ပန္းျမတ္အတြက္ ဖန္တီးမႈပိုင္းဆိုင္ရာမွာ အရမ္းအေတြ႔အၾကံဳရေစတဲ့ ပထမဆံုး camp ပါ လို႔ Mizzima Media က ဂ်ာနယ္လစ္တစ္ဦးျဖစ္သူ မပန္းျမတ္က ဆိုပါတယ္။အေရွ႔ေတာင္အာရွVideo Camp(ေခၚ)ခ်င္းတြင္းCampကို EngageMediaက ပဲခူးျမိဳ႔ရွိ Bago Centre မွာ လုပ္ခဲ့တာပါ။ ဒီကန္႔ကို ျမန္မာႏိုင္င့ရွိ Video Activist မ်ားနဲ႔ အေရွ႔ေတာင္အာရွမွ ရုပ္၇ွင္ဖန္တီးသူမ်ား အေတြ႔အၾကံဳမ်ားအခ်င္းခ်င္းေတြ႔ဆံုဖလွယ္ႏိုင္္ရန္ရည္ရြယ္ျပဳလုပ္ခဲ့တာပါ။ သင္တန္းသား (၄၀) နီးပါးရွိခဲ့တဲ့ ဒီcamp ကို ပဲခူးမွာ(၃)ရက္တာ ျပဳလုပ္ခဲ့ပါတယ္။ တက္ေရာက္သူမ်ားဟာ အခက္အခဲ အခြင့္အေရးဆိုင္ရာမ်ားကိုအခ်င္းခ်င္းနားလည္ရန္အတြက္ တျခားသူထံမွ သင္ၾကား၇ံုမွ်မကဘဲ မိမိတတ္သမွ်ကို အခ်င္းခ်င္းျပန္လည္မွ်ေ၀သင္ၾကားေပးခဲ့ၾကပါတယ္။ ခ်င္းတြင္းCamp ဟာေအာင္ျမင္စြာျပီးဆံုးခဲျဲ့ပီး ေခါင္းစဥ္ေပါင္း(၁၀၀)ေက်ာ္ကို ေဆြးေႏြးမွ်ေ၀ခဲ့ၾကပါတယ္။
ကြ်န္မညႊန္းဆိုလိုတဲ့ ေဆြးေႏြးခ်ိန္ကေတာ့ အမ်ိဳးသမီးမ်ားအၾကမ္းဖက္မႈဆိုတဲ့ ေခါင္းစဥ္ႏွင့္ သက္ဆိုင္ေသာ ေဆြးေႏြးမွ်ေ၀ခ်ိန္ ျဖစ္ပါတယ္။ ဒီေဆြးေႏြးခ်ိန္မွာ EngageMedia က ကြ်န္မနဲ႔ Dhyta ..ျမန္မာမွ ဒါရိုက္တာ ေႏြးဇာျခည္စိုး၊ ဖိလစ္ပိုင္မွ ဒါရိုက္တာ အီလန္အီလန္ တို႔ ပါ၀င္ခဲ့ပါတယ္။ အမ်ိဳးသမီးေတြကို အၾကမ္းဖက္ခံရျခင္းဟာ ျမန္မာမွာ အဓိက ျပသနာတစ္ရပ္ျဖစ္လာတာကိုကြ်န္မတို႔ေဆြးေႏြးပါတယ္။ ေဆြးေႏြးပြဲထဲက အသံတစ္ခုၾကားသိခဲ့ရတာေတာ့ ကြ်န္မတို႔ဟာ အမ်ိဳးသမီးအခြင့္အေရးေတြကို ျမွင့္တင္ဖို႔ၾကိဳးစားေနေပမယ့္ အမ်ိဳူသမီးေတြကိုယ္တိုင္က အမ်ိဳးသမီးအခြင့္အေရးဘာလဲ ဆိုတာကို မသိေသးဘူးဆိုတာပါ။ ဒီအဆိုကို ကြ်န္မတို႕႔ေထာက္ခံခဲ့ၾကျပီး အမ်ိဳးသမီးေတြနဲ႔ ပတ္သတ္တဲ့လႈပ္ရွားမႈေတြကို ေနာင္ အနာဂတ္မွာ ပိုမိုလုပ္ေဆာင္ဖို႔လိုတယ္လို႔ ကြ်န္မတို႔ အားလံုးအေျဖရွာခဲ့ၾကပါတယ္။
တက္ေရာက္သူသင္တန္းသားမ်ားဟာ ျပသနာမ်ားႏွင့္အတူ ျဖစ္ႏိုင္ေသာ အေျဖမ်ားကိုပါ တပါတည္း ေဖြရွာေပးခဲ့ၾကပါတယ္။ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံမွာ ဒါရိုက္တာတစ္ဦးျဖစ္သူ ကိုသက္ဦးေမာင္က ဒီcamp က မိတ္ေဆြမ်ားဖို႔ ခ်ိတ္ဆက္ေပးပါတယ္။ မွ်ေ၀ျခင္းအားျဖင့္ ကြ်န္ေတာ္တို႔ ဗဟုသုတပိုတိုးတယ္။ ကြ်န္ေတာ္တို႔ ႏိုင္ငံမွာလည္းတျခားႏိုင္ငံေတြနဲ႔ဆင္တူေသာျပသနာေတြရွိတယ္ေလ။ ဒါ့ေၾကာင့္ ျမန္မာ သင္တန္းသားေတြအေနနဲ႔လည္း အေရွ႔ေတာင္အာရွသင္တန္းသားေတြဆီက အေတြ႔အၾကံဳ ဗဟုသုတေတြ ရခဲ့ပါတယ္ လို႔ ဆိုပါတယ္။ camp ျပီးတဲ့ေနာက္ တျခားအသစ္လုပ္စရာေတြအမ်ားၾကီးေပၚလာပါတယ္ လို႔ သူက ထပ္မံေျပာပါေသးတယ္။
သင္တန္းသားေတြအတြက္ ေပ်ာ္စရာအေကာင္းဆံုးအခ်ိန္ကေတာ့ Witness မွ Prakkash ရဲ့ Banana Dance (ငွက္ေပ်ာ္သီးေလးလို ကျခင္း) ပါပဲ။ သူ႔ရဲ့ ဒီသင္ၾကားမွ်ေ၀မႈေၾကာင့္ အဖြဲ႔တစ္ဖြဲ႔က ေက်းဇူး ငွက္ေပ်ာ္သိီးေလး ( Thank You Banana) အမည္ရ ဇာတ္ကားတိုေလးကို ရိုက္ကူးခဲ့ပါတယ္။ ဒီcamp တက္ေရာက္သူတိုင္းေမွ်ာ္လင့္တာကေတာ့ ဒါဟာ အားလံုးအတြက္ ခုလို အတူတကြတြဲဖက္လုပ္ကိုင္ရတဲ့ ေနာက္ဆံုးအခြင့္အေရး မျဖစ္ဖို႔ပါ။ ဒီcamp ကေမြးဖြားလာတဲ့ အိုင္ဒီယာေတြကို ျပန္လည္ အေကာင္အထည္ေဖာ္ဖို႔ လိုပါေသးတယ္ မဟုတ္ပါလား။
EngageMedia is a non-profit media, technology and culture organisation. EngageMedia uses the power of video, the Internet and open technologies to create social and environmental change. We harness old and new media to assist movements challenge social injustice and environmental damage, as well as to present solutions.
Our new sys-admin is required to look after EngageMedia's servers and technical systems, including backups, administration of accounts, web server configuration, security patches, minor upgrades, monitoring and uptime maintenance. Commitment to ongoing updating and improving of technical documentation on our internal wiki is a must.
Our new sys-admin should work closely with our part-time technical manager and one other existing casual sys-admin, and also offer assistance to staff in administering email accounts and lists, project management software and other web services including maintenance, security patches and upgrades of Wordpress, Drupal and MediaWiki installations. Other technical consultants who work with EngageMedia will also need assistance from our sys-admin at times.
We are looking for somebody competent, experienced and friendly, with good communication skills, who works well in teams, and is fluent in English. We also want to work with somebody who shares our long-term goals towards social and environmental justice, and who has a strong connection to FOSS projects.
- Ongoing maintenance and technical support for two main production servers and one backup server
- 24 hour monitoring and emergency up time support of servers and major user-facing web services
- Ensure backup systems between servers are functioning effectively at all times
- Ensure technical documentation on our internal wiki is always up to date
- Weekly review and installation of security patches and updates to OS, web apps and plugins where required
- Weekly review of tickets in the technical issues management system, and response to all pending tickets
- Weekly response to requests to install new software or apply extensions or changes to existing services including cron jobs, email accounts, mailing lists and small fixes
- Weekly online meetings with technical team and engagement in planning and feedback
- Take a lead role in coordinating systems administration tasks
Application and updated CV should be emailed to email@example.com with the title "Sys-Admin". Please include 2 referees in your CV. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and we seek to fill the position as soon as possible.
According to the Global Slavery Index in 2014, the number of victims of modern slavery worldwide went up 300% from the previous year. Research by the Walk Free Foundation (WFF, Australia) in 2013 has stated Indonesia as being one of 114 countries around the world that practices modern slavery and that there were an estimated 210,000 Indonesians who were working in conditions equating to slavery in foreign countries.
Indonesian NGO Migrant Care reported that in 2013 alone, there were 398,270 cases of violations against migrant workers from the 6.5 million Indonesians who were working abroad, 84% of which are women workers.
To further highlight these cases of abuse and exploitation, we collaborated with the Alam Tara Institute to organise a screening of Crossroads, our advocacy video collection which includes several videos telling the stories of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia.
The event was held on 29 July at Kedai Kalikuma in Mataram, and invited to participate in the post-screening discussion were Endang Susilowati, who has been an activist for migrant workers in Lombok since 2004, Paox Iben Mudhaffar, a cultural activist, novelist and researcher who focuses on issues pertaining to Lombok, and Rangga Babuju, who was moderating.
Reflecting on the many testimonies that were in the films, Endang Susilowati said that those were all factual representations of what migrant workers went through. Working abroad with a paspor melancong (tourist passport) was among the most common reasons for the issues they faced. “As tourists, they can’t stay there for a long time but it is the easiest way they can get there”, Endang added.
"The government has to start using the term 'cultural representatives' instead of 'remittance hero', as what they do is associated with the dignity of the country. They have to be more appreciated and treated righteously”, said Paox Iben.
Crossroads is a video advocacy initiative aimed at developing and strengthening the advocacy and documentation capacity of migrant workers, refugees and stateless persons and their support organisations. Watch the entire collection here.
Migrant adalah orang yang berpindah dari wilayah lahir ke wilayah lain dengan maksud untuk bekerja. sehingga dikenal dengan Migran Internal yang merantau dari daerah ke daerah lain dalam Negara Indonesia dengan maksud bekerja dan adapula Migran Internasional yang keluar negeri dengan maksud bekerja. Migran Internasional inilah yang disebut sebagai Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (TKI) atau ada pula disebut Tenaga Kerja Wanita (TKW). Belakangan disebut sebagai Buruh Migran Indonesia (BMI).
Berdasarkan hasil penelitian Walk Free Foundation (WFF) – Australia pada tahun 2013, bahwa Indonesia adalah salah satu dari 114 negara di dunia yang menggunakan praktek perburuan modern. Dalam penelitian tersebut, di releas juga bahwa terdapat 210.000 warga Negara Indonesia bekerja sebagai Budak di Luar Negeri. Hal ini singkron dengan penelitian Global Slavery Index yang di releas tahun 2014 yang menyebutkan bahwa Korban perbudakan modern pada tahun 2014 meningkat 300 % dari tahun sebelumnya (2013). Setidaknya terdapat 210.970 orang pada tahun 2013, meningkat menjadi 714.300 pada tahun 2014.
Catatan Migrant Care tahun 2013 menyatakan bahwa ada 398.270 kasus yang menimpa BMI di luar negeri selama setahun terakhir. Jumlah tersebut dari 6,5 juta WNI yang bekerja sebagai BMI di luar negeri. Dan 84 % dari jumlah tersebut adalah kaum Perempuan atau TKW.
Dari hal tersebut, Alam Ntara Institute bekerjasama dengan EngageMedia menginisiasi untuk mengadakan Bedah Film ‘Crossroads’ sekaligus Diskusi tentang Isu dan Fenomena Buruh Migran di Asia Tenggara khususnya Indonesia. Bedah Film dan Diskusi yang diadakan di Kedai Kalikuma – Mataram, pada hari Rabu, 29 Juli 2015 tersebut menghadirkan Pembicara, Endang Susilowati, SH, Aktifis Lembaga Pancakarsa yang intens melakukan kajian dan advokasi BMI di NTB sejak tahun 2004. Juga sebagai pembicara pembanding, Paox Iben Mudhaffar, Budayawan NTB, Novelis, sekaligus Penggiat dan Peneliti masalah-masalah Konflik di NTB melalui ‘Rumah Arus’ nya. Diskusi ini dipandu oleh saya sendiri sebagai Moderator.
Film ‘Crossroad’ (Persimpangan jalan) adalah sebuah Film Dokumenter Testimoni tentang hiruk pikuk BMI dibeberapa Negara Asean. Film ini diproduksi sendiri oleh BMI, termasuk dalam penggalian Ide, proses Syuting, Editing hingga promosi. Pembuatan Film ini cukup lama, 1 tahun untuk sebuah Film Dokumenter Testimoni.
Dari beberapa testimoni yang ditayangkan dalam film tersebut, menurut Ibu Endang, kerap dirasakan oleh BMI dengan Paspor Melancong. Istilah Paspor Melancong ini biasa didengar dari para BMI Malaysia, yaitu Paspor wisata. “Karena sebagai wisatawan, tentu tidak lama, namun para BMI lebih mudah mendapatkan Paspor Melancong ini yang kemudian digunakan untuk bekerja” jelas Endang yang sudah melalang buana bolak balik Lombok – Malaysia ini.
Dilain sisi, berdasarkan fakta-fakta pengakuan dalam Film tersebut, bahwa dugaan Trafficking itu cukup tinggi dengan Modus Potong Gaji. Hal itu didasarkan dari testimoni sebagian besar BMI yang diusir dari Malaysia. PJTKI dengan mudahnya melakukan kongsi dengan Agency yang ada. “Potong Gaji sekian bulan, setelah itu dipindahkan lagi dari majikan yang satu ke majikan yang lain. Sehingga selama itu BMI tidak terima gaji sekalipun” Tegasnya.
Menurut Paox Iben, apa yang dijelaskan oleh Ibu Endang itu diakui benar adanya akibat rendahnya martabat bangsa Indonesia melalui para BMI. Meskipun tidak semua BMI mengalami perlakukan yang sama dan mendapatkan kasus-kasus yang disebutkan, namun tentang Perbudakan Modern tersebut, Paox berkeyakinan atas adanya By Design.
Apalagi jika kita membaca UU Nomor 39 tahun 2004 tentang penempatan dan Perlindungan Buruh Migran. Dalam UU tersebut, hanya satu pasal yang berbicara tentang Perlindungan Buruh Migran. Selebihnya adalah Pasal Usaha dan ratifikasi. “Itu pun karena Konvensi Buruh Migran baru di Ratifikasi setelah 13 tahun diperjuangkan. Ini konyol, sebab, Kebijakan Migran Indonesia merupakan warisan Orde Baru yang sifatnya mengerahkan dan Penguasaan bukan perlindungan” Tegasnya.
Menurut Catatan Migran Care menyebutkan bahwa Indonesia menduduki Rangking ke 8 sebagai Negara yang warganya diperbudak (2014). Hal ini disingkronkan dengan Testimoni beberapa BMI dalam Film ‘Crossrods’ tersebut yang menyatakan bahwa mereka bekerja siang dan malam dengan upah yang tidak sebanding dengan apa yang mereka lakukan.
Diskusi hangat tersebut berlangsung selama 4 jam lebih. Menjadi alot ketika Paox Iben menuturkan tentang kajian Folosofis, Sosiologis, Antropologis serta Geografis atas BMI. Menurut Paox Iben, Simbolitas atau 'gelar' BMI harus diubah yang akan diikuti oleh perubahan mindset dan paradigma berpikir masyarakat tentang para BMI ini. “mereka tidak boleh lagi dianggap sebagai Pahlawan Devisa, sebab, tanpa dinyatakan demikian pun mereka dan kita semua pun adalah pahlawan pada masing-masing bidang. Pemerintah harus mendorong Istilah ‘Duta Kebudayaan’ kepada para BMI agar selaras dengan target peningkatan Martabat Indonesia di luar negeri. agar BMI kita dihargai dan diperlakukan sebagaimana layaknya seorang Duta Wisata” Tegas Paox.
Hal ini menanggapi beberapa pertanyaan Audience serta data Lembaga Panckarsa yang menyatakan bahwa Transaksi dari BMI yang masuk ke NTB dalam setiap hari adalah lebih kurang Rp 3 Miliar atau lebih kurang Rp 1,5 Triliun dalam setahun. Hal tersebut baru melalui transaksi per-Bank-an, belum lagi uang yang dibawa tangan oleh para BMI yang pulang cuti atau pulang tidak lagi menjadi BMI.
Dari Diskusi tersebut menghasilkan beberapa Point penting sebagai rekomendasi atau semacam Kesepakatan bersama bahwa:
1) Migran adalah sesuatu yang perlu diadvokasi lebih jauh dan luas, karena hal ini penting untuk menjadi perhatian bersama seluruh pihak. Sebab, NTB adalah salah satu daerah penyuplai Migran Internasional di berbagai Negara.
2) Tentang strategi Kebudayaan dalam mengubah Mindset dari ‘Pahlawan Devisa’ menjadi ‘Duta Kebudayaan’ sekiranya harus dilakukan berbagai upaya membangun Opini sosial agar Pemerintah baik pusat maupun daerah tergerak hatinya untuk menyiapkan warga masyarakat yang akan bekerja ke Luar Negeri agar memiliki Kreatifitas Seni dan kebudayaan yang Inovatif.
3) Dari diskusi yang dilakukan, besar harapan terbentuknya atau menyebarnya lembaga atau Wadah yang consent terhadap advokasi dan Konsultasi serta jalinan kemitraan terkait pengembangan potensi dengan para ‘Alumni’ BMI maupun calon BMI. Sehingga para BMI yang akan segera selesai masa kontrak dan kembali ke Indonesia telah memiliki rencana untuk membangun apa. Berdasarkan hasil komunikasi dan konsultasi potensi dengan lembaga atau wadah yang dimaksud.
Diskusi yang membicarakan tentang banyak hal mengenai kendala, hambatan, serta peluang sebagai seorang BMI yang diselenggarakan tersebut menyadarkan kita semua, bahwa penting untuk terus melakukan upaya sosialisasi dan interaksi yang lebih berkesenambungan dengan berbagai pihak dalam menyikapi setiap persoalan tentang BMI ini. Para ‘Pahlawan Devisa’ tanpa perlindungan Negara yang berarti. Dan akan menjadi sangat berarti bila pemerintah menyiapkan mereka sebagai ‘Duta Kebudayaan’. Martabat dan Harga diri bangsa Indonesia pun dihormati dan di hargai.
Kedai Kalikuma – Mataram, 29 Juli 2015.
Fleeing from prolonged conflict and persecution in Myanmar, hundreds of thousands of ethnic minorities find themselves living as refugees in neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia. In Malaysia alone, there are an estimated 150,000 refugees from Myanmar, with possibly a third of them being not being registered with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
In 2013, to highlight their stories and those of other migrant communities, EngageMedia began collaborating with Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY) on Crossroads, an advocacy video project to teach migrant rights activists video production and distribution skills. 'In Search of Shelter' is part of the collection of 12 videos that were produced, and highlights the plight of the Myanmar refugee community in Malaysia.
In the video, asylum seekers share how they've united and combined resources to establish access to basic services like health clinics and primary schools for their children. However, they also face many hurdles related to the difficulties in getting registered as refugees with the UNHCR in Malaysia, such as how many of the teachers in the schools they set up are themselves arrested by the police due to their lack of legal status.
Malaysia, which has stated that it will not sign the UN convention on refugees, also does not have any legal framework for national asylum and does not distinguish between refugees and undocumented migrants, leaving refugees at constant risk of detention, deportation and abuse. An undercover investigation by Al-Jazeera in 2014 revealed that some refugees pay up to $1,000 for official refugee status in Malaysia, as part of an illegal trade allegedly involving the UN Refugee Agency itself.
At one of the community screenings of Crossroads we held in Malaysia, we found that 80 to 90% of those present have had personal experiences being harassed by the police or faced problems with permits and employers. One member of the audience pointed out that there have been incidences where even if they produce their registered refugee card or supporting letter, the document was simply torn up by the authorities that had approached them.
With continued reports on acts injustice and exploitation committed against refugees in Malaysia, it remains to be seen how its government and the UNCHR will effectively address this grave and growing situation.
One of the most fun activities we did in Camp Chindwin was to have a Short Film Lab in the morning of the third day. The participants were grouped into eight teams and were tasked to plan, shoot, edit and submit short films in two and a half hours. The teams were given carte blanche as far as the topics were concerned. The resulting films was a testament to the talent, skill-level and creativity that abounded in the camp. More than that, the short films gave a snapshot of what life and times in Camp Chindwin was like. Team 6 did a film about the participant's impressions on the camp, capturing footage as the other teams worked on their short films. One of the teams did a short feature interview with Ju Ju, the woman who cooked all the meals for the camp venue. The interview, which was conducted in Burmese, tackled how Ju Ju found herself working at the Bago Centre. The team even managed to subtitle the edited video into English within the time frame! Another team did interviews with the staff that the centre, focusing on the ecological values of the venue. Yet another team captured the "wild life" in Camp Chindwin with a short film about the insects at the venue. One team did a short silent action film about one of the camp "rules": if you're late for the sessions, you either sing or dance (or both). The use of stop motion animation, one of the expertise of one of the participants, was a clever way to get "dialogue" in. Using finger puppets, one of the teams paid homage to the the "unofficial" Camp Chindwin song -- The Banana Song. Group 2, shot and edited an instructional video on coffee-making entirely on an Android phone.
The last short film was about the "myth" (that the team invented and propagated themselves) about what it means to see a snake in Bago.
All of the short films were screened during the closing of the camp.
The Short Film Lab was such a fun exercise, and I'm really glad that we did it. It was much-needed break from the discussions and technical skill sharing sessions, and provided the participants another way to work together.
Camp Chindwin, our Southeast Asia Video Camp, brought together over 30 video activists, citizen journalists, and filmmakers in Myanmar in June this year, and I'm still trying to digest all the excitement from finally seeing it happen, and the reflections I've had afterwards.
As an activist and artist from Singapore, I've been using video in my work for over 10 years now, while closely following social movements from across Southeast Asia through video. From the ongoing struggles of garment workers in Cambodia, to the tragic modern history of Indonesia and the Philippines, to the mass public demonstrations held in neighbouring Malaysia, video has always been central to how I've come to understand the region and found inspiration to work for change within my own country, which, as of this year, would have spent 50 years under one-party rule and a state-controlled mainstream media landscape.
Through my work with EngageMedia over the years, I've come to meet fellow activists from the region with similar concerns and doing similar things, which has helped me build strong ties of affinity that last till today. EngageMedia has organised three previous regional gatherings, namely, Transmission, an Asia-Pacific video and technology camp in 2008, and Camp Sambel I and II, which were Bahasa-language video camps in 2010 and 2012. And while we've built a good network of video activists, I wasn't able to know if we'd gotten to the point of building a movement ― something I began thinking more about after the second global convening of the global Video for Change network, where I was asked to present a regional report on the "State of the Movement" in Southeast Asia.
In many ways, Camp Chindwin is a key step we're taking from maintaining a network, to building a movement. And one of the reasons it came at the most perfect time is the prevalence and reach of online video (and other forms of media) today, alongside state propaganda and oppression.
During a discussion at Camp Chindwin, a participant shared that in his country, average citizens, even in their 50s, are so disillusioned with the mainstream media that they want to buy smartphones with mobile internet plans to obtain independent information. This struck a chord with most of the participants of the camp, in whose countries the mainstream media is predominantly state-run or subject to heavy censorship.
Although Internet penetration rates have been steadily increasing in Southeast Asia (and there are still places where you can't even get a phone signal), in the past two to three years I've noticed a marked increase in the number of people from low-income groups, including migrant workers, who've acquired smartphones and affordable mobile internet.
As more members of the public find it easier to access alternative information online, activists, filmmakers, citizen journalists, and independent media organisations have come to find it easier (or perhaps more encouraging) to focus on producing and distributing video content. The frequency and extent of the video content that we are able to share today has meant that we are that much more able to assess the impact of our work.
Eight years ago, my colleagues in the region surely knew how to produce the videos that they currently are, but the questions often were, "How long would it take to upload, and how long would it take for someone to watch it? How many people would actually watch this, and how would I know they did anything about it?". For most of us, gone are the days of publishing one video every few months to be viewed at 240p, and wondering what happened to it after.
In Myanmar, media organisations such as Irrawaddy have been producing video discussions on topics ranging from ethnic conflict to media freedom ― topics the mainstream media would never discuss in depth or in detail. Other organisations including Mizzima, Kamayut Media, and Democratic Voice of Burma have all been publishing several videos daily. This too, is a far cry from back during the time of the Saffron Revolution, where footage for the award-winning film Burma VJ had to be secretly shot and smuggled out of the country. Today, the film can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube from within Myanmar.
Of course, these developments also have to do with the recent "opening up" of political spaces, but that did not happen in a vacuum. Increased access to online content has granted the people here access to a freer market of ideas, the ability to hear everyone's stories and tell their own, and spurred many to participate in public action. These actions, which include forums, rallies, and demonstrations, are being continuously documented on video and being put back online, growing awareness and activity in an upward cycle. It's a movement.
Hot under the collar from the pressure of this movement, the governments of Southeast Asia, including monarchies, military juntas, political dynasties, and pseudo-communist regimes which make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), are trying to find a balance between having absolute control and losing it entirely. They evidently still haven't found a delicate way to do it, as critical films continue to be banned, film screenings raided, online videos blocked and taken down, and video makers arrested.
And as video is still seen as one of the most threatening forms of media by authoritarian entities, I believe that video must also still be one of the most effective forms of communication for social change.
Most of my conversations with Video for Change makers at Camp Chindwin and beyond have reinforced my view that this entire region is now in a state of social and political flux, for better or worse. In countries where even a one-person demonstration is a chargeable offense, the Internet opens up a world of possibility. And we've got this powerful tool, video, which we now have much greater means to produce and distribute, so what are we going to do with it?
In that regard, aside from the all the brilliant sharing of skills and engaging discussions that I witnessed at Camp Chindwin, the most important aspect of the event was that it brought us all to ask that question, together, and to begin to realize where and how we fit in this hopeful or volatile time.
A breezy location along the Ayeyarwady River, Pyay is the most interesting stop on the Yangon–Bagan Highway. The city, whose glory days date back to the ancient Pyu capital of Thayekhittaya, was the venue of Barcamp Myanmar 2015.
Representing EngageMedia, I participated in Barcamp Pyay, which was held over July 11 and 12 at a Basic Education School and attended by over 3,500 people. The camp was teeming with crowds of attendees delivering speeches and taking part in lively discussions.
The morning panel on the first day of the camp addressed opportunities for youth leadership in development, mostly in entrepreneurship, open-source and civic engagement.
On that day, I conducted a session called 'How to Make Films on Low Cost Devices', where over 20 people attended. I delivered this topic with the Yangon Heartz organization, who are holding the first Smart Phone Film Festival in Myanmar. I also briefly introduced how to deal with digital security issues for videos.
Since the Barcamp is an unconference which doesn't make use of any slide presentations, I just used entries in my notepad to deliver the main contents of the talk. This unconference format worked really well to bring people and ideas together in a non-formal setting.
On the second day, I ran 'How to Subtitle Online', where Myanmar Barcampers asked a lot of questions because they've had no experience in using online subtitling tools like Amara. This was a very active session and our room was pretty noisy from all the excitement!
After my presentations, I took part in other sessions and led discussions on topics such as 'Google Maps for Businesses', 'Social Networks and Innovation', and 'Love Problems of Youth', which was of course very popular!
In this Barcamp, the organizers focused not only on technology, but also agriculture, civilization, archaeology and education. This made Pyay Barcamp very different from the other Barcamps we've had in the past, and made it much more memorable for me. You all can have a look at all of the fun activities on the camp's Facebook page.
So, would you like to join the next Barcamp in Myanmar?
In all of our events, we try to ensure the inclusion of gender perspectives. For starters, we push for a gender balance among the participants. We're not always successful however, since the film, video and even documentary industry, as any industry in public domain, is still dominated by men.
Our approach to Camp Chindwin, our Southeast Asia Video Camp, was no different from any other events that we organized in the past. But this time, we worked harder for the presence of more women film/video makers from the region by giving more exposure of our online application to women. And it paid off. Many great film/video makers in the region applied, and as a result we achieved a balanced gender composition.
Gender balance is always a good start, but applying gender perspectives in the work is a must, so that the women feel really present and own the space. While it is very important to treat gender issues as intersecting ones, having specific spaces to talk about women’s rights are needed.
With the open space methodology that we used, I offered two sessions specifically on gender. One was about what it means to be women filmmakers and the other one was on how to make films where women victims of violence were subjects. Both were discussions and experience sharing sessions.
The first session on women filmmakers involved women from Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. It struck me, yet didn't really surprise me, that the experiences shared were very similar from one country to another. There was a slight different experience from the Philippines however, where the women’s movement has advanced more, compared to the other countries in the region.
The discussion was mostly around the experience of being women working in the film industry, whether as directors, camerapersons or editors. Most of the women shared how difficult it is to get film project opportunities compared to their male counterparts. We were trying to understand the reasons as to why the people running the industry believe more in the ability of men than women, especially when the films were about or to be shot in conflict zones. The latter always used the excuse of protecting women, while never attempting to investigate other factors that often times give an advantage to women in such situations.
The session also discussed how we, as women filmmakers, often have to work harder to prove ourselves and show that we are as qualified as men or even more. We came to discuss strategies on how we could work and be treated equally as men. We tried to find out what works, what doesn't, and came to an agreement to build a network of women filmmakers in Southeast Asia to support one another and share opportunities that might rise in the future. A network that we are currently working to make a reality.