EngageMedia Blog

Critical Situation for Indonesia's LGBT Communities

by Yerry Nikholas Borang November 07, 2017

Saya (I Am)

Indonesia is hardly a utopia for those practicing an alternative or different lifestyle, and the brunt is especially felt by those of alternative sexual orientations. The country is still largely conservative and floats unsure of itself through the 21st century attempting to arrive at some meeting point between traditions with modern ideals. In the last few years, political and social movements against the LGBT community are becoming more frequent and intense.

In November we woke to the news of an attack against a dozen homosexual Indonesians gathering in Jakarta. It was led by the Indonesia Police in collaboration with one of the largest fundamentalists groups. The crackdown also happened online, which leaves little to no safe space for LGBT peoples in Indonesia.

In January this year, Indonesia’s Technology, Research & Higher Education Minister, Muhammad Nasir, stated that Indonesian universities must uphold standards of ‘values and morals’ and should not support organisations promoting LGBT activities. This only added to the pressure felt by LGBT groups in academic settings.

Diplomatically, Indonesia has joined a group of 17 countries, including Saudi Arabia, to block UN plans on including LGBT Rights in their new urban strategy plans. Earlier in the year, 12 academics from Aliansi Cinta Keluarga (Family Love Alliance) petitioned the Constitutional Court of Indonesia to change existing laws to make it illegal for consenting adults to involve themselves in homosexual acts, an act they said should be punishable by up to five years in jail. The situation was made much worse by conservative media groups.

The lack of LGBT voices in national media is a huge problem as they are not able to provide a discourse that challenges the views of conservatives. This silence is in part due to government crackdowns on LGBT organisations. Our Voice’s SuaraKita has been shut down several times by hackers and the government filter systems. The same is happening to other LGBT organisations and media outlets who promote tolerance.

While my intention in writing this article was not to display desperate notions, I honestly find myself desperate at the state in which the LGBT community finds itself in currently and the further difficulties that they will face ahead. We cannot allow this to happen, we need more action!

More info:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35657114

http://jakarta.coconuts.co/2016/11/28/after-fpi-reported-them-13-men-secured-police-having-gay-party-released-bc-no-evidence

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/gay-couple-facebook-upload-arrested-indonesia-a7362021.html

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/10/14/government-shows-anti-lgbt-stance-global-forum.html

http://jakarta.coconuts.co/2016/08/02/anti-lgbt-academics-petition-constitutional-court-criminalize-homosexual-acts

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/08/23/indonesia-court-reviews-anti-lgbt-law

Organizations:

Suara Kita

Arus Pelangi

Queer Film Festival Jakarta

Cemented Feet in Protest to Cement Factory

by Natalie Stuart December 14, 2016
Protesters from Mount Kendeng, Rembeng regency in Central Java encase their feet in cement aiming to stop the construction of a PT Semen Indonesia cement plant as well as spread environmental awareness.

On 12 April 2016, nine women from Mount Kendeng, Rembeng regency of Central Java encased their feet in cement in front of the State Palace, Jakarta in protest against the construction of a PT Semen cement plant.

The women hoped that the protest would symbolise the ‘shackling’ of their lives and their environments by cement. Riem Ambarwati, one of the protesters, described cement as ‘dead earth’ because no living thing can grow within it (Coconuts).

PT Semen began construction of their plant in June 2014 and have since experienced massive community backlash. The communities of Kendeng and also Pati, Grobogan and Blora, where other cement companies have plans to build; are mostly farmers and are concerned that the plant, being build upon the Watuputih groundwater basin area will greatly diminish their primary water source and so impact upon their livelihoods as farmers. The communities also point out that they have always been able to support themselves through farming and do not need or desire the jobs that the cement plants will provide.

The plant could potentially cause the loss of 51 million litres of water. Aside from community opposition the construction of the plant has met with opposition from environmental activists and academics who insist that the mountainous karst area must be preserved. The mining of limestone in the karst region, necessary for the production of cement will have detrimental impacts on the mountains underground water channels that provide water not only to the immediate area but also carry water farther afield.

The Kendeng community were granted an audience with President ‘Joko’ Jokowido who ordered further strategic environmental assessment (KLHS) and all permits to be annulled for the duration of the study. The assessment will involve the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and is estimated to take one year.

The affected communities still fear that this will not deter activities at the plant and plead for  a respect of their environment and for dialogue between industrial contractors and local land holders, who in this case had never been previously consulted regarding the construction of the plant.

Update:

On 4 December 2016, Kendeng farmers set out to undertake a 150 km march from Rembang to Semarang. PT Semen Indonesia has not stopped its illegal activities at the cement plant and the villagers are petitioning the Supreme Court to take action. The week leading up to the march also saw a huge spike in cement factory advertising across Indonesian mass media channels, this may have fueled the decision to take further action against the large corporation.

Of Unnatural Offences; LGBT Rights in Myanmar

by Natalie Stuart December 14, 2016
The Myanmar Penal Code a British colonial law still in place in Myanmar outlaws same-sex relations and causes discrimination and oppression for LGBT community.

That's The Way I Am

The Myanmar Penal Code of 1860 states;

Of Unnatural Offences

377. Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with transportation for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Policy written in colonies during occupation are inherently structured on the cultural and political norms of the coloniser. Within this environment intercourse against ‘the order of nature’ or ‘unnatural sex’ is usually interpreted by authorities to mean sodomy or same-sex activities that cannot result in procreation. The lineage of such ideologies can be traced back to ideas of religious sinful practice in Europe. Countries previously held by Britain including Myanmar, India, Malaysia and Singapore still hold these colonial era laws in place.

In Myanmar today this law is rarely enforced but because of its existence LGBT people are seen as criminals and are frequent victims of discrimination, violence, oppression and in some cases extortion.

Hla Myat Tun from Colors Rainbow, a LGBT advocacy organisation stated of Myanmar police, "They see them as a walking ATM. If they need to fill their quota, they arrest transgender sex workers, or gay guys. They harass them, they arrest them, even gang-rape them in the police compound" (The Guardian).

Aung Myo Min created
Colors Rainbow in 2007 after having realised that Myanmar’s "main human rights violation was ignorance". The organisation trains volunteer paralegals to document occurrences of homophobic and transphobic activities. By recording this information and through further research they aim to educate the wider public and to propose a new anti-discrimination law that they hope the new liberal government, the National League of Democracy (NLD) will adopt.

At a time when Myanmar is leaving behind its authoritarian past and navigating the discriminatory laws put in place by the British it is essential that minorities including the LGBT community are aware of their legal and human rights so that their voice may find a place in the rewriting of Myanmar social and political life.

These messages are being spread effectively though film. This year, Myanmar held their second &PROUD LGBT Film Festival, which premiered a biographical documentary about Aung Myo Min titled Di Lo A Chit Myo (This Kind of Love), among other short films.

Similarly, EngageMedia is holding multiple screenings around Myanmar aiming to educate audiences of the experiences of a wider range of minority groups. Among the films is Turning Tables production That’s The Way I Am, a film exploring a homosexual mans experience in coming out and the fear that characterised his childhood.

http://www.colorsrainbow.com/

http://www.andproud.net/

http://www.thiskindoflovefilm.org

APC Asia Meets to Strengthen Collaboration for 2017 and Beyond

by Yerry Nikholas Borang December 23, 2016

APC Asia Meeting 2016

From 5-7 October 2016 organisations from all over Asia participated in the Regional Meeting for the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This meeting aimed to strengthen APC's regional strategy for 2017 and beyond.

One of the key points that arose was attempting to find a better way for collaboration between APC members in the Asia region. The participants were also concerned with how this regional collaboration on technology and information can cover gender and sexuality challenges that are specific to particular countries. These points will continue to be discussed in the APC Paper about Theory of Change and Strategy for 2016-2019.

In discussing cutting-edge technology participants raised concern about problems of access to information and technology in the Asia regions. There was discussion about the social and economic costs of network shutdowns on freedoms and human rights in the Indian sub continent. APC also endeavoured to develop a framework on last mile access to examine which countries do not allow community networks, an issue faced in Argentina and which are wireless, like Nepal.

The participants also explored the possibilities of holding a national school for internet governance in Asia so that any member can replicate this in their home country. There was also suggestions to facilitate participation in the design of digital rights camps in South East Asia or more widely, South Asia.

The meeting was closed by a short conference with Bangladesh Minister of Information & Communication Technologies and received a lot of coverage from the Bangladeshi media.

Cemented Feet in Protest to Cement Factory

by Natalie Stuart November 15, 2016
Protesters from Mount Kendeng, Rembeng regency in Central Java encase their feet in cement aiming to stop the construction of a PT Semen Indonesia cement plant as well as spread environmental awareness.

On 12 April 2016, nine women from Mount Kendeng, Rembeng regency of Central Java encased their feet in cement in front of the State Palace, Jakarta in protest against the construction of a PT Semen cement plant.

The women hoped that the protest would symbolise the ‘shackling’ of their lives and their environments by cement. Riem Ambarwati, one of the protesters, described cement as ‘dead earth’ because no living thing can grow within it (Coconuts).

PT Semen began construction of their plant in June 2014 and have since experienced massive community backlash. The communities of Kendeng and also Pati, Grobogan and Blora, where other cement companies have plans to build; are mostly farmers and are concerned that the plant, being build upon the Watuputih groundwater basin area will greatly diminish their primary water source and so impact upon their livelihoods as farmers. The communities also point out that they have always been able to support themselves through farming and do not need or desire the jobs that the cement plants will provide.

The plant could potentially cause the loss of 51 million litres of water. Aside from community opposition the construction of the plant has met with opposition from environmental activists and academics who insist that the mountainous karst area must be preserved. The mining of limestone in the karst region, necessary for the production of cement will have detrimental impacts on the mountains underground water channels that provide water not only to the immediate area but also carry water farther afield.

The Kendeng community were granted an audience with President ‘Joko’ Jokowido who ordered further strategic environmental assessment (KLHS) and all permits to be annulled for the duration of the study. The assessment will involve the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and is estimated to take one year.

The affected communities still fear that this will not deter activities at the plant and plead for a respect of their environment and for dialogue between industrial contractors and local land holders, who in this case had never been previously consulted regarding the construction of the plant.

Natalie Anne Stuart

Further reading:

http://jakarta.coconuts.co/2016/04/13/video-women-encase-feet-cement-protest-new-cement-factory-they-say-destroy-environment

Introducing our Minority Rights and Interfaith Film Screening Series: Khaw Than

by Kyalyi December 13, 2016
EngageMedia is kicking off the end of 2016 with a new series of community film screenings called ‘‘A Call in Need: Khaw Than ( ေခၚသံ ).”

Khaw Than: A Call in Need is a 3 month film tour in Myanmar organised by EngageMedia. The tour, consisting of screenings and discussions, will be held in Yangon and Mandalay and features a collection of films about the rise of minority rights and interfaith issues.

Over the past few years, minority groups in Myanmar have been victim to increases in discrimination resulting in fear, violence and a regional refugee crisis. Despite the end of military dictatorship and more attention from the international media, the situation is not improving. To aid in this outreach to the media, many filmmakers based in Myanmar have produced documentaries aimed at the international market.

EngageMedia decided to join in this advocacy effort to foster an understanding of minority rights issues by holding a total of 6 film screenings in the country as well as highlighting the issues through an online campaign.

Khaw Than Screening 2

The first screening took place in collaboration with Phandeeyar at their office on the 26 October. We made an open call to those interested within the community and over 80 people attended.

The films that were screened included works that have been selected and awarded at multiple international film festivals and focus on issues including minority rights and war, children’s rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights as well as interfaith films. Ma Su of EngageMedia stated that the diverse selection of films is meant to cater to a wide range of issues and audiences. All screenings were followed by discussions with the filmmakers.

The first film was Thet Oo Maung’sSound of Silence awarded at the Gerona Film Festival in Spain. The film focuses on an old retired soldiers experiences in the civil war and includes very dramatic and exciting footage. Maung shared his experiences in making the film with the audience and discussed sympathy for the victims of war.

Khaw Than Screening 1

Lei Lei Aye, the director of ‘My Mother is Single led a riveting discussion on her ideas of women’s roles in Myanmar society. ‘My Mother is Single’ was produced by Turning Tables Myanmar and received recognition at Wathnn Film Festival.

The third film shown wasA Letter from Civil War directed by Lin Thet Naung, it depicts a child’s life in an IDP camp in Kachin. This film was also selected for the Wathnn Film Festival in 2013.

The screening closed with ‘Beda Tempat Saling Jaga’ a film about peace produced by Common Ground Indonesia.

Ko Aung Win Htut from Phandeeyar said that the screening "is an affirmation of the hard work put in by the younger generation in the film industry here. It's a film series Myanmar should be proud of".

Featured Filmmaker: A. Dananjaya

by EM News April 12, 2017
Commemorating the 51st anniversary of Indonesia's 1965 Tragedy, we interview A. Dananjaya, who uses film to to highlight alternative perspectives on history.

 

Tell us who you are as a filmmaker and how you began your career.

My name is Dananjaya, but people usually call me Andrew. I’ve been working with kotakhitam Forum from when it was founded in 2008. I’ve never studied filmmaking, but I greatly enjoy watching films and I do that often.

Back then, I was thinking about making my own films on particular topics. And since I love history, I decided to start an organisation – a non-profit one – that focuses on film and history. At that time, I believe kotakhitam Forum was the first organization working on both film and history.

Can you tell us about some of your more notable films? Which would be your favourite?

Till today, we’ve made several long-format documentaries, most of which address the situation in Indonesia in 1965. Our first ever documentary was about Lekra (Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat or People’s Culture Organization), titled, Yang Bertanah Air, Tak Bertanah’. The film features eyewitness accounts of former members of Lekra on their revolutionary movement as a continuation of the unfinished revolution of 1945.

Our second big project, ‘r.i.’tells the stories of Indonesian political exiles who, for a certain period of time, could not return to the country due to the coup in 1965. This group included students, journalists and cultural delegations who were sent abroad by Soekarno in the 1960s.

Our third film of note is ‘Api Kartini’, which is about survivors revisiting a prison camp in Plantungan, Central Java, where they were isolated because they were assumed to be members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) during the New Order era. They shared stories on suffering in silence, memories of loss and severe trauma in trying to recall that violent period.

I would say that ‘r.i.’ is my favorite film. As our first production, we learned a lot from it, not only with regards to working with such topics but also technically, since none of us came from film school. Back then, it was very rare that people discussed political exiles, who we traveled to Europe to meet directly. It’s also the film that we’ve done the most outreach for.

What is the background to its story?

The film focuses on political exiles from Indonesia who could not return because of the 1965 Tragedy and lived in Europe. The aspiration to build a new Indonesia under the leadership of Soekarno brought about delegations of students, artists and journalists were sent to Europe to absorb new knowledge and experiences.

The 30th September movement, had a big impact on those who were abroad. The New Order regime screened and withdrew the passports of anyone who was considered leftist or communist. Some of these citizens chose not to come back to Indonesia due to the possible consequences, such as arrest and abduction. To survive, they started a restaurant which became a symbol of solidarity among exiles. Restaurant Indonesia in Paris became a part of the emancipation movement by Indonesians who were concerned about human rights issues. It was boycotted by Suharto's regime, but the inconsiderate labeling of it as a “red” restaurant never deterred its spirit.

What were the opportunities you gained from producing the film?

Since we’re dealing with rather sensitive issues, myself as producer and director of all the films produced by kotakhitam Forum will be the first in line to face any challenges. But sometimes those challenges greatly help me to know more deeply about what is going in my country.

I’ve met lots of amazing people that faced the tragedy, survivors, historians, and younger generations that have totally no knowledge about the story of that time. With kotakhitam Forum, I take the opportunity to be a medium and bridge different communities to understand and learn from each other.

For example, when we meet with youth, most of what they know is history as told by the New Order. It then becomes our job to take them to meet survivors and victims so that they will get a chance to listen to perspectives they’ve never heard before. That also happen with our movies, we use them to be a bridge to discuss about propaganda and version barrier between generations.

 

Are there any challenges for you working in Indonesia, specifically on the 1965 issue?

Many critical groups besides kotakhitam Forum also produce documentaries and books in order to provide an alternative historical discourse. Since our target audience is history teachers and high school students, these new resources challenge institutions to become more open to interpretations.

However, the public discourse has not always had an impact. Many teachers still use the same books that were used during the New Order regime, because they seem to be haunted by the trauma of the period and the formal curriculum bureaucracy. By screening documentary films with alternative perspectives to history teachers, we hope to encourage more open mindedness and boldness among them.

What first attracted you to work with documentary film?

It started in 2008, when my friends and I founded the organization and had a discussion on history and politics. One of us said he had just read alternative history books, where the content was totally different compared to what was taught at school. It surprised us a lot, as we’ve never heard those comparisons made before.

Since then, we started researching on it. Some people helped us meet survivors and we thought that we should record it, because there were many others aside from ourselves who did not know about such issues. We decided that film would be the best medium to use, as it has audio and visual aspects which can more fully document the people we’d interview. We also thought that films would be more flexible to distribute via screenings instead of books.

How can online distribution help your work, and what are your thoughts on online and offline distribution?

Online distribution helps us a lot with outreach. Especially when working on certain issues in Indonesia, we have to be very careful about our security. Based on that reality, we more online than offline distribution, but online distribution also aids us in reaching broader audiences.

However, we still believe in the unique ability of offline distribution, which creates an important space for face-to-face discussion. That’s why we continue our engagement with high schools by screening films there.

For me, both online and offline distribution are not easy to do. We still encounter a lot of difficulties in promoting our films, especially with the complicated regulations when dealing with formal organizations.

What are you working on now and what's your next project?

We’re now in the middle of our next project, which is also related to the 1965 Tragedy. There’s a new choir group consisting of family members of survivors, and they just launched their first album. We approached younger generations to interpret their songs through the audio-visual medium.

Another ongoing project is a filmmaking workshop with high school students on family history. We’re also attending to some international students who are doing internships with us.

Do you believe that films can change society?

I do believe 100% that films can change society.

What we’ve been doing for the past few years is to look at to what extent high school history teachers are willing to consider using films with alternative historical narratives in their work. We believe that this activity assists in the development of the history curriculum into a more humane and democratic one. It opens new perspectives on the discourse of the 1965 tragedy to teachers and schools, and encourages students to be more critical in comprehending Indonesian history.

All of kotakhitam Forum's films are available for free download here.

Indonesia's 1965 Tragedy: Hope Returns After 51 Years

by Kartika Pratiwi September 30, 2016

Poster by NobodyCorp

30th September, 1965, was a day that symbolized the political transition between the first Indonesian president, Soekarno, and the new order regime of Soeharto. Soekarno himself was a nationalist who promoted ideas of the people standing against colonialism and imperialism, so his biggest supporters naturally came from Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI), or Communist Party of Indonesia.

On the 1st of October, at a time when all other media was banned, the Indonesian army’s official newspaper published stories accusing leaders and members of the PKI of being responsible for the killing of the several generals in Jakarta.

In about three weeks following the events in Jakarta, mass killings began to take place all across Java. Scores of people were summoned and executed by mobs with the support of military personnel. The victims included members of the PKI, progressive and liberal organizations, civilians, artists and academics who were critical of the government, and even people who did not have any relations with the communists at all. It turned into a witch hunt where fingers could be pointed at anyone the mobs desired.

It was estimated that between one to two million were killed, and others who were accused and survived were being isolated and imprisoned on islands. Some who were studying or sent abroad by Soekarno were not able to return to Indonesia. These are just a few examples on a long list of violations that have had a deep impact in education and the younger generation.

Before the 1998 reformation, most of society viewed the discourse on the ‘1965 Tragedy’, as it came to be called, based on history as narrated by the New Order regime. History teachers in Indonesia had to use the prescribed perspective in books that were controlled by the regime, and students were made to watch Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (The Betrayal of the 30th of September Movement/Indonesian Communist Party). The film, which was shown in schools every year following the massacre, was a dramatized account of the 1965 Tragedy, constructed to propagate the idea that communism is fundamentally evil.

However, the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998 motivated many to dig deeper for the truth. This motivation was further fueled by several new findings on the brutalities that occurred, and a tribunal which found the Indonesian government guilty of massacre. Multiple groups continue to use film, music, literature, and other initiatives to provide an alternative discourse to history.

The narratives featured in these documentary films were multi-dimensional, including testimonies of the victims or their family members who were either directly involved or who witnessed the trauma and its social impact. Some of the productions, such as The Act of Killing, were even able to highlight the perspectives of the perpetrators, and are being used for advocacy.


Another such film is Jembatan Bacem (Bacem Bridge). The film is based on a bridge in Solo, Central Java, which was the location of a massacre of people who were assumed to be or were communists. After 40 years, a ritual ceremony was held to mark it as a memorial site.

In 2013, EngageMedia organized a video project called Video Slam 2013, which brought together 14 filmmakers from across Indonesia to remix and subvert the official government propaganda film, Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI. Some of the resulting videos took a more serious approach, while others chose to be comical or satirical.

We hoped that the activity would serve as an entry point, especially for those involved in the project, to break the taboo and end the silence around discussing that period in Indonesia's history.

Photograph by GigsPlay.com

In music, a new choir group called Dialita (an abbrevation of “Di Atas Lima Puluh Tahun” or “Above 50 Years Old”), whose members are woman survivors and families of the 1965 victims, just released an album which is available for free download.

Songs by Dialita were mostly composed by individuals during their imprisonment from the late 1960's to 1970's. For the album, the group collaborated with young musicians, wanting to share their life journeys with inter-generational perspectives. They perform not only to help reconstruct history, but also for personal fulfillment, and to cope with trauma after being silent for almost 50 years.

A popular electronic act named Filastine also teamed up with young Indonesian musicians to produce an adaptation of the controversial song ‘Genjer Genjer’.Though the original song was about a poor woman picking genjer (a river plant that was mostly consumed by the poor at that time) to sell at the market, it was used as a rallying theme by the PKI. When Suharto took power in 1965, the songwriter was killed and the song banned.

Photograph by Indra Wicaksono

Papermoon Puppet Theatre, a prolific theatre group from Yogyakarta, has also been organizing performances and workshops to raise awareness and encourage dialogue. Their work, Mwathirika, which uses puppetry and multimedia to portray first-hand accounts of those detained, has traveled to various locations around the world.

Museum Bergerak

In 2015, another initiative that was launched was Museum Bergerak, which was an interactive public space for younger Indonesians to examine and appreciate archives, stories and memoirs that came directly from victims and survivors. Clothes, shoes, photos, sketches, bicycles and much more were installed into the museum/exhibition in a corner of Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta. To their owners, the exhibited objects were treasures, helping them recall their experiences from 50 years ago.

A number of online platforms aiming to help citizens educate themselves on the period have also emerged, including Learning 65, Kotak Hitam Forum, 1965setiaphari, Genosida 1965, and Ingat 65.

By looking back in time through art and other media that help to clarify and renew historiography, there is hope that generations of young Indonesians will be able to join the dialogue to bring the nation towards reconciliation and justice.

Network Building at the Southeast Asia Video for Change Forum

by EM News September 14, 2016
From 24-26 August, EngageMedia participated in the Southeast Asia Video for Change Forum, which was held as part of the Freedom Film Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

SEA Video for Change Forum. Photograph by Arul Prakkash.The Freedom Film Festival is considered to be the most established human rights and environmental film event in the region, bringing together critical films and filmmakers for the past 14 years. Its organizers, Pusat KOMAS, who are a member of the global Video4Change network, spearheaded the idea of holding a localized forum after attending the 2nd convening of the network in Mexico last year.

The three-day event began with a public screening of films from Sabah, to West Papua and to Myanmar, addressing issues such as environmental crises, women’s rights, religious freedom, and the social realities of the LGBT community. The screenings closed with the film ‘Kenya: A Guidebook to Impunity’, produced by fellow Video4Change network members InformAction.

SEA Video for Change Forum Discussion.

The film served as a starting point for the discussion conducted the following day on the role of video in elections monitoring in Southeast Asia. All the participants agreed that video-based monitoring in their home countries was done more sporadically, and found inspiration from the Kenyan film to plan ahead for a more concerted documentation effort.

Sessions continued with a presentation on ‘Video as Evidence’ and related tools by Prakkash from WITNESS. Seelan from EngageMedia then shared a presentation titled ‘Beyond the Festivals: Video for Social Change and Impact’, which included key aspects of guides such as BRITDOC’s Impact Field Guide, Horticulture Tools by the Active Voice Lab, and the Video4Change Impact Cookbook. It was encouraging to note that our presentation was used by one of the attendees in an Asia Indigenous People's Pact workshop in Thailand the very next weekend.

Video for Change at AIPP workshop.

The final day featured an open-to-public dialogue titled, ‘Dealing with the Cut’, where a panel of filmmakers shared their experiences with film censorship.

Knowledge exchanged over the course of the forum informed the closing meeting to follow up on some common areas where various participating filmmakers and organizations could work together, and understand how this currently organic network can be developed further.

Video for Social Impact at Myanmar Tech Camps

by Kyalyi September 01, 2016
July was a busy month for EngageMedia in Myanmar as there were two technology camps that I had to attend as a speaker and trainer. These were the Pyay Barcamp and Tech Camp 2016 in Mandalay.

Tech Camp Myanmar 2016

The first event, which I was also invited to help organize, was the Barcamp in Pyay City, located  in the Bago Region. Like many other areas in Myanmar, Pyay faces issues of land grabbing, and so I chose some related content for the camp. On the opening day, July 16, I promoted a dialogue on 'Human Rights Through Documentary'.

As the target audience during my talk were teenagers and high school students, I focused on child and land rights issues by screening the films, ‘Pangarap sa Buhay' from the Philippines and ‘Masters of our Land’ from West Papua.

The discussion that followed was very active because the students were knowledgeable on human rights, and spoke up bravely on the subject. We concluded the session by asking positive questions such as, “How can we cure our society by sharing knowledge?”.

Pyay Barcamp

Next, I headed to the Tech for Transparency event at Latpanhla village, Sintguu Township, Mandalay Division. The two-day workshop which started on July 18 was organized by Phanteeyar, USAID and Colors Rainbow.

Colors Rainbow invited both youth and seniors from across Mandalay and Latpanhla to participate in the camp, where I spoke to both groups about the impact of the civil rights movement in their lives and taking action to help their communities with digital storytelling tools.

Using the mobile editing tools I shared, each participant was supported in creating a story, written and recorded on his or her mobile phone. Each story was made accessible online by posting them on their community Facebook page.

With the skills gained during the workshop, the participants from various organizations are now able to share their stories as part of their efforts to seek justice, whether it be in LGBT or civil liberty issues. The camp also provided other valuable tools to civil society and the private sector to enhance the technical assistance they are receiving through ongoing USAID programs.

EngageMedia looks forward to the next event where it can contribute to positive social change in Myanmar through video and technology.