In partnership with the U.S. Embassy and the Innovation Lab: Phanteeyar, this Tech Camp aimed to promote inclusiveness in Myanmar by creating technology strategies for a new Myanmar. Among the many topics that were discussed were data collection, citizen journalism, online/offline community organizing, digital privacy, data visualization, tools for emergency and data mapping.
International trainers from BBC, RFA, the Carter Centre, Change.org, Open Development Initiative, IRI and ICT4Peace showcased various tech solutions and strategies that could potentially aid the growing democracy. Local trainers like myself and others from different organizations also attended and trained at the camp.
Esra Dogrmaci from the BBC and I specifically trained on 'Social Video and Podcast Production’, where we introduced a selection of mobile video editing apps for iOS and Android. The focus of our session was on how to produce short and effective campaign videos for access on slow internet connections. We also spoke on tactics for reaching new audiences via social media, specifically for mobile video
Esra suggested using text-based video tools because they don’t require getting a good voiceover or presenter. The strength of making text-based video is that everyone can easily understand concepts and ideas through a combination of text and photographs.
Our participants had a lot of fun producing content using the apps and techniques we recommended, and were really excited to finish their projects within the given time frame. The four groups made up of our participants worked on themes such as drug abuse, child rights and caring for the elderly.
One participant from the Pat Jasan organization, which is conducting an anti-drug campaign in the Kachin area, shared that they’d like to work on a documentary on drug abuse because it’s a serious problem there. He felt that the session was very valuable for him, adding that although he can only produce short mobile videos now, he hopes that he’ll be able to produce documentary films with professional editing software.
Tech Camp Myanmar was a great platform to bring innovative groups of people together, engage them in meaningful training, and kick-start a conversation on the importance of digital communication strategies. Welcome to the New Myanmar!
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.
When a group of us “organizational security practitioners”* gathered in Prague this February, we were cautiously optimistic about what we could achieve.
Many security experts and practitioners have been gaining invaluable experience while working to strengthen human right defenders and civil society organisations' awareness, ability and confidence in thwarting security threats while continuing on their striving for positive change. Commonly referred to as "organizational security", this engagement comprises a complex, evolving and multifaceted process which has been fraught with challenges.
So, earlier this month, 15 such practitioners convened in Prague to share our experiences, resources and approaches, and to address our collective challenges by coalescing our understanding of what organisational security is, and how we, a fledgling community of trainers and organisational security practitioners, can grow and hone our practice.
The groups that participated were:
- the engine room
- Association for Progressive Communications
- The ISC Project
- Access Now
- Digital Society of Zimbabwe
- Front Line Defenders
- HIVOS-DIF / pantraining
More specifically, we put thought and effort into understanding and answering some questions:
- What do we mean by organizational security? what are its reaches and boundaries?
- What are the components (or "stages") of a successful organizational security process? How are they interrelated?
- What are the barriers and the enablers towards success for the organizations? for us, the practitioners?
- What are some of the resources already in place? what more is needed?
- How can we benefit from each others' experiences? How can we better leverage our collective expertise?
The result was an inspiring start, which we like to share and expand.
We want Prague to be the beginning. We were very encouraged and buoyed by the depth and breadth of the collective knowledge to be tapped, and resolved to use the Prague gathering as a launching pad towards a larger knowledge space and a community of practice.
If you are attending the Internet Freedom Festival [https://internetfreedomfestival.org/], we invite you to join us to discuss what we started in Prague, hear our outline of how to grow as an independent, open, and collaborative community; and if you are interested, to join efforts. You'll find us at the organizational security session, currently scheduled for Friday, March 4. We want to hear from you about the challenges you face implementing organizational security support and your solutions; about your own organizational security systems and practices; and how you could benefit and contribute as an active member of this growing community.
Today, video has quite possibly become the strongest conveyor of stories. Considering the power of storytelling, its potential to leave you hanging by the edge of your seat, change minds and force audiences to see things differently, it is no wonder video is so popular within human rights work. Nonetheless many organizations have a rather simplistic view, or approach, on using of video. It’s often something like: go to a site of injustice and record the activities and people there. Let people tell their stories, illustrating the injustice taking place. Take the recorded footage home, edit it and post the results online. The video(s) then become part of an already existing, or perhaps newly created advocacy campaign hoping to influence both public and policy makers. Sound familiar? Parts of it perhaps?
Through a real-life story I would like to illustrate a different way in which video and the power of storytelling can be used. In 2011 Asrida Elisabeth, a young Indonesian woman originally from Flores, an island in the eastern parts of Indonesia, joined an activist pastor in Papua, a huge island at the most eastern end of Indonesia. For decades the Papuan people live in oppression. As a primitive society living on a land incredibly rich in natural resources they have become an easy target for big mining companies, whom facilitated by the Indonesian government simply take, take and take. Everyone profits from Papua except for Papuans, as a Guardian journalist put it.
In her activist work, trying to educate and empower the Papuan people, Asrida noticed that using video was very effective. People would gather easily to watch and audio-visual media resonated strongly, provoking discussions on issues addressed in the videos. As most of the videos used are produced outside of Papua, often even outside Indonesia, Asrida wondered: Wouldn’t it be great if we could make our own videos and show them here?
EngageMedia, a non-profit working with video in South-East Asia, was active in the region through a project called Papuan Voices. Besides producing videos Papuan Voices has a strong empowerment aspect. Asrida got involved and learned a thing or two about filming through workshops and engaging with the local Papuan Voices team. Later on she joined with filming and also managed to produce two of her own videos independently.
When an opportunity presented itself through Project Change to get funding for a video on women living in marginal communities, Asrida grabbed it. By now she knew how to film plus she had a network and access to a region in Papua where she had been actively working for quite some time. The idea for the documentary was simple: follow one mother (Mama) in her struggle to survive in her own land (Tanah). The resulting documentary film, Tanah Mama (2015), was a big success. It opened many Indonesian viewers’ eyes about the oppression of the Papuan people. It is still screened in an effort to empower Papuan communities, providing exactly the type of locally produced videos Asrida had wished for back in 2011. On top of it all, Tanah Mama won the prestigious best documentary film award at the December 2015 Yogyakarta Documentary Film Festival.
It’s not so much the winning of this award that illustrates my point, although I hope it opens up new opportunities for Asrida. It is the way video was used within Papuan Voices that’s most interesting. While it produced someamazing videos, Papuan Voices’ greatest impact is achieved during the process and in the way the project was set up. From the onset the goal was to provide Papuans with the means to tell their stories.
Human rights activists or organizations will achieve greater impact if they can go beyond letting people tell their own stories and move towards actually enabling people to tell their own stories. A much more long-term and process orientated approach, acknowledging not all outputs can be predicted from the start. Video projects then are initiated by listening and engaging and aim to let go as much and as soon as capacities and circumstances allow. Thereby opening up a space where video making becomes a collective creation and learning process, filled with creativity. Only then will more Asrida’s be given the opportunity to surface and address the world in more meaningful and impactful ways than any human rights organization can. Their job is “simply” to enable the impact to happen and capture it in order to inspire.
Join New Tactics in Human Rights and EngageMedia for a conversation on Video for Change & Impact from February 22-26, 2016.
The BarCamps in Yangon have been huge successes, seeing thousands of participants every year. And this year, I took part in it as a speaker and participant.
On the first day, people came as early as 8am (an hour before the event started) to start sharing and learning from each other by embracing the freedom of knowledge. There were over 60 “colorful” topics at put up on the speaker board such as Start-Ups, Big Data, Web Development and even Magic! For the eager participants, it was a mind-boggling experience, as many of the sessions were happening at the same time.
The topic I offered was 'How to make films on mobile devices', which is targeted for citizen journalists and youth who are interested in producing video content. My sessions on this topic are typically 45 minutes long, where I actively share information and experiences, screening some very short films, teaching practical skills and demonstrating the use of mobile video apps.
To fit the BarCamp model, I had to make the session shorter. I started by welcoming everyone to the room as a “creative space” and went through tips on mobile video making. There are two very useful apps I introduced, CameraV & Storymaker.
Several participants wanted to learn more about how to stabilize cameras and how to script/storyboard your mobile videos quickly. They were also themselves offering tips, opinions on the topic, and proposed an idea to start a mobile video filmmaking industry in Myanmar.
One keen participant said that, “We’d like to produce good mobile videos but we don’t know how to produce them step by step”. Her suggestion was that mobile videographers like myself need to share our skills on social media platforms. I hope that I can share my mobile video production tutorials in Burmese online in the near future.
On the second day, I distributed Burmese-subtitled DVDs of EngageMedia‘s Crossroads and Papuan Voices advocacy video collections. One of the campers said, “I never thought I’d get these kinds of gifts at Barcamp. It’s really difficult to get documentary films from outside Myanmar with Burmese subtitles”.
I also spent some time participating as a Camper in other sessions, such as a discussion that was held on the Womens Rights app market.
At the closing ceremony, the organizers and I discussed how to share our mobile video making tips in more detail at next camp, where we decided that I should run an even longer session and hopefully collaborate with other trainers as well.
Yangon BarCamp was filled with people from so many different backgrounds – the independent movers and shakers, the geeks, the youth and more. It was a great place to develop new relationships and have fun while learning. Congratulations to the Colorful BarCamp!
In the bustling city of Yangon, it’s not uncommon to see kids sniffing glue in dark street corners. Most people have gotten used to this sight. The many children make money from selling goods such as flowers, helping on construction sites and in cafés, but often from prostitution and criminal activity such as break-ins as well.
Most of them live in constant insecurity. They are scorned by society, cast out and have no chance at having a normal childhood. Some were sent out to work because their parents could not afford to send them to school, while others are refugees in the conflict zones across Myanmar.
If Street Children's Day is an opportunity to send a message to and request action from all the governments of the world, then the new government of Myanmar, led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, have to show a strong commitment to ensuring the rights of children.
We hope that the following videos help you to understand the plight of street children in the country, and share them to help raise awareness on this tragic, unresolved issue.
The Kids Who Sniff Glue
Growing up on the streets of Mandalay is tough. Many children sniff glue as a means of escapism and to forget their hunger. With no one around to help them, they are vulnerable to abuse and further decline into harder drugs.
I Wanna Go to School
Filmmaker Nyan Kyal Sal told the story of a brother and sister who’ve always dreamed of going to school. Together, they try to escape from obstacles such as gender inequality, poverty, child abuse, forced labour and human trafficking that prevent them from having access to education.
This film was an awarded animation film at the Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival in Myanmar in 2015.
Giving Their Lives Back
“I was 16 years old and always wanted to be a driver. I was approached by a guy who offered me a job as a driver, so I went with him. He then took me to the army and I had to stay for two years.”
For over a decade, children in Myanmar have been recruited to participate in violent, armed conflicts between the state and numerous militarized ethnic groups. Community organizers are working hard to return child soldiers to their families and end this profound abuse of children’s rights.
Below are some organizations working to help street children in Myanmar, which you can volunteer with or donate to.
The '1965 Tragedy' that happened fifty years ago in Indonesia is considerably the worst tragedy in the political history of Indonesia. The incident claimed the lives of over a million victims from various ethnic and religious backgrounds. The army trained militias all over Indonesia with a directive to eradicate the "followers of Communism" and anyone who was thought to be supporters of the ideology. Mass killings, disappearances, exiling, imprisonment and horrendous torture have left a dark stain in the history of the nation.
The New Order systematically controlled the socio-political narrative and silenced other versions of historical truth. For instance, every year students were required to watch a film on the 1965 Tragedy entitled̳, Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (The Betrayal of the 30th September Movement/Indonesian Communist Party). The film propagates that communism is "fundamentally evil".
The fall of the New Order and the emergence of the reformation era in 1998 have triggered the people‘s curiosity to dig deeper into the truth behind the 1965 Tragedy, in order to provide an alternative discourse of history different from the mainstream version. This counter-movement realized itself through alternative documentary films, theatre, literature, posters, conferences, art exhibitions and much more.
Efforts to keep memories of the events of 1965-1968 alive continue to be made by victims of the persecution and civil society. Museum Bergerak 1965 came to be a bridge, connecting today's generation to victims and survivors, to discuss memories of the humanitarian tragedy through popular ideas. This project was organized by collectives in Jogjakarta such as Kampung Halaman, ELSAM, EngageMedia, kotakhitam Forum, Kunci Cultural Studies, Fopperham and many more. The goal being to struggle against forgetting and ignorance of the truth, moreover, to prevent any remaining New Order propaganda from producing a generation that becomes more silent and apathetic.
Museum Bergerak 1965 meant to be an interactive public space for young Indonesians to observe and appreciate archives, stories and memoirs that came directly from victims and survivors. Clothes, shoes, photos, sketches and bicycles were installed to what was referred to as a museum, in a small corner of Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta. To their owners, the exhibited objects were treasures, helping them recall the experiences they had 50 years ago. For example, there was a collection of letters by Tedjabayu Soedjojono, an ex-political prisoner. He still keeps those letters that he wrote to his family when he was kept in isolation on Buru Island, far away from Java.
Jembatan Ruang Kelas Tragedi was one of the sub-events at Museum Bergerak 1965, which was called a "classroom bridge", because it hosted daily seminars and conferences on several elements related to the 1965 Tragedy. The classroom setting was created to be a counter-narrative to the version offered by the New Order in the educational syllabus. One of the "classes" discussed the relation between music and tragedy by Taman 65, a group founded by the children of Balinese survivors who were executed in 1965. One of the speakers, Roro Sawita, who has spent several years researching and documenting Bali’s dark past, said that Taman 65 recomposed the Prison Songs that political prisoners wrote and sang in detention.
Another session was presented by Pak Mars Nursmono. Formerly a student at the Bandung Institute of Technology, he joined a movement of student organizations called CGMI (Consentrasi Gerakan Mahasiswa Indonesia or Unified Movement of Students of Indonesia), linked to the Communist Party of Indonesia. He was then arrested and exiled to Buru island. As a smart and progressive student, he sketched out what he saw in the prison, including layout of the building and even daily activities.
Another interesting presentation was by a theatre group who performed slapstick musical theatre to criticize the price of the goods at the time that were becoming increasingly expensive. This critical arts group had existed in East Java even since before the coup, but was forcibly disbanded when “the world turned to chaos”.
Similar experiences were also had by Pak Tikno and Pak Panut when they were arrested by the military. They were in jail for a number of years but were never given a trial. During their time in prison, they began learning acupressure and acupuncture because they were sure that the government was not going to allow them to find any kinds of jobs if they were released. And what they imagined was real. They never got a job upon their release because they were labeled E.T. (Eks Tapol or ex-political prisoner), and they have since run an acupressure and acupuncture practice from home.
Museum Bergerak 1965 and Jembatan Ruang Kelas Tragedi has become one of the new mediums for writing history, reflecting upon many cultural elements and fields to keep reminding the people of some of the darkest chapters in Indonesia's story. It hopes to encourage new generations to free the country from the social and political impact of the 1965 tragedy.
Watch Mama Mariode at 02:34:00 of the recorded livestream here.
By Hendriati Trianita
On 27 November 2015 in Leiden, The Netherlands, KITLV, or the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Carribean Studies, held a seminar titled 'EngageMedia's Papuan Voices: Video and Empowerment'.
The seminar was attended by around 20 people who were mostly researchers and PhD students, and 3 films from both volumes; Love Letter to the Soldier, Wamena and Pearl in the Noken, were screened. Fridus Steijlen, a senior researcher at KITLV, opened the event with a brief description about EngageMedia and its Papuan Voices project.
Hendriati Trianita, a former Program Manager at EngageMedia, and Ligia Giai, a Masters student in Global History at Leiden University of Papuan origin were discussants of the films. Trianita spoke about the process of making the films and Giai about how impressed she was by 'Pearl in the Noken', because it shows a an example of a Papuan success story.
The post-screening discussion was lively as there were many questions and comments from participants, who all agreed that the films were very good, have strong messages about the everyday lives of Papuans and that the fact that they were made by Papuans themselves added on greatly to their value.
The discussion centered around three main themes; the content and relevance of the films (and the project) to people, video as a tool for empowerment and how these videos are used by the communities, and the process of making the films.
Comments by the audience mentioned that 'Love Letter to the Soldier' has a strong political message, but is communicated in a very subtle way, while 'Pearl in the Noken', is unique and interesting as it does not focus on a "victim", as most advocacy films do. It was also noted that 'Wamena', which tells a story about the importance of pigs in the life cycle of Papuans, can be considered not only as a "cultural story", but also one that shows the more complicated socio-economic values of the people in Wamena (and other parts of Indonesia).
One of participants asked how these videos could reach the people in the places they were made, whether they happened to talk about the films and what their reactions were. Trianita, who was involved in the second phase of the Papuan Voices project, said that the films were screened in villages and communities and got positive response and feedback. She also explained the production process, from story development, shooting and editing workshops, to the actual production phase.
It was a fruitful discussion and the participants were impressed by the films. It is beneficial for advocacy videos like those in Papuan Voices are exposed to more academics. One of the researchers said that the films relate to something that they've been thinking a lot about: how to engage their knowledge of ethnography into something that can directly reach (and then empower) people. (Nita)
All the videos from the Papuan Voices project and its study guide can be downloaded here.
As technological innovation and the development of information technology become the major factors in shaping life in our world today, the implications and risks that grow along with them become more apparent. Among other problems, is the privacy and the protection of the human rights of users of these technologies.
These revelations were made clearer after the recent heroic acts of some of the most daring whistle blowers the world has ever seen. I’m talking about Julian Assange (Wikileaks), Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and so on. After they went public, we knew much more about the nature of mass-surveillance conducted by states and state apparatuses alongside corporate actors.
Citizens in Indonesia, as with other Southeast Asian nations, get minimal protection from the state and their seemingly endless harassment. There is a low level of public consciousness in the rights to privacy, but it is a lack of interest in that right which makes it so hard to even start trying to raise awareness through any kind of campaign.
For example, in Indonesia, we have a situation where the Internet was introduced faster than our capability to give it and its related terms (such as "upload" and "download") localized names. It became such an integral part of our lives before we even understood how it worked and what its consequences were. The sheer number of online activities in a country with the third largest population in the world made the government realize that they needed to create some rules for this new sphere. This development revealed that despite recently freeing itself from 32 years of military dictatorship, many legacies from its darker days, such as the state surveillance machine, are still very much alive and well.
Across the thousands of islands, each and every government body and apparatus of law has been busy carrying out its own surveillance and upgrading its tools. The military, police, Department of Justice, the Public Prosecutor, Anti-Corruption Special Body, Anti-Drugs and Narcotics Body are just some of the many institutions that are secretly tapping into their citizen activities, many times without any legal warrants whatsoever from the court. I mean, who needs those anyway?
The hottest topics among activists and human rights advocates was the controversial Circular Letter by the Chief of National Police on the handling of hate speech on 8 October 2015. Most critics said that this hands the police a powerful weapon, allowing it to decide what can and cannot be categorized as hate speech, and is absolutely problematic and dangerous. This circular has turned into one of the most heated current debates, and many believe that Indonesia could once again slip into totalitarianism.
It's even more alarming that this circular comes at a time when the police force is working hard to clean its name and maneuvering around allegations of corruption among several of its members. In one such case, they arrested one activist who recorded and broadcasted a video exposing police bribery.
In another recent development, the government is moving to revise the Electronic Information and Transaction Law (ITE Law) and beginning to draft a Law of Privacy Protection, aimed to be heard in parliament during the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) in 2016. The ITE Law was previously denounced by Indonesian civil rights activists for denying protection to the rights of netizens and restricted internet freedom. This law allows anyone to report on anyone else about anything, as long as it’s considered "defamatory". But who decides what is defamatory? Just earlier this year, a woman confiding to a friend on Facebook about her husband's alleged acts of domestic violence was taken to court and found guilty.
Apparently, the Indonesian government now wants to deprive the citizens of almost all freedom of expression by revising this law to add even tighter restrictions and stronger punishment. The official excuse for such drastic measures was the supposedly negative and chaotic effects of the liberal use of social media and the internet. Rising violations of privacy and statistics of crimes related to internet use are also used as scare tactics to justify a strong state response: a hammer to bend (or break) the liberal use of the internet. And so, the administration is in the process of creating a "Cyber National Body", tasked with clamping down on what it considers to be negative aspects of the internet, the violation of social media, and scrutinizing every honest expression by every Indonesian citizen.
If all goes according plan, it could mean a long and difficult road for the civil and digital rights movement in the country to uphold and expand their efforts, as well as build a system for the protection of the public and general user of the internet.
Bela Negara and the Re-Militarization of Indonesia