Dateline Irrawaddy: A discussion on the USDP and NLD campaignsSocio-political talkshow, Dateline Irrawaddy, discusses the varying campaign strategies of the ruling party and the opposition. The opposition NLD has claimed that it will ensure equal rights for all nationalities and religions in the predominantly Buddhist country if it wins.
The pledge came following a declaration by prominent monk Wirathu of the Ma Ba Tha nationalist Buddhist group, who said that the group will endorse the ruling USDP.
Hardline Monks Claim Victory as Myanmar Muslims Face Poll Exclusion
The aforementioned hardline group Ma Ba Tha recently publicly celebrated the passing of four controversial "Protection of Race and Religion Laws" purporting to protect the Buddhist religion.
This raised fears about the intermingling of religion with politics before the elections in a country that has suffered major inter-religious violence in recent years.
Voter List Errors
The NLD has criticized the Union Election Commission (UEC) for the many existing errors on voter lists, including the names of deceased persons, omissions of current voters, and incorrect birth dates, names and national registration numbers, fearing that these could hurt its chance for victory in the elections.
Earlier this year, Dateline Irrawaddy conducted a video interview with U Tin Aye, Chairman of the UEC on the credibility of the polls this year. But if the above videos are any indicators to go by, it seems that Myanmar's road to democracy remains a long and difficult journey.
Watch weekly video updates on Myanmar's election here.
In late September, the Papuan Voices II collection was screened in collaboration with the Faculty of Gender Studies at the University of Malaya. Students, lecturers, and activists were invited to watch the series of advocacy videos on West Papua, which were produced by Papuan activists after being trained by EngageMedia.
The post-screening discussion, led by myself from EngageMedia and moderated by Alicia Izrahuddin from the Faculty of Gender Studies, showed that not much is known about West Papua in Malaysia other than Freeport, Raja Ampat, the independence movement and head-hunting.
One of the audience members mentioned that Malaysian companies also invest in West Papua, and so it's not only Freeport that's “colonizing the land”. He added that land issues are the biggest problems there after HIV/AIDS.
Other attendees were very intrigued by how Papuan people look at modernity, and wanted to know more about gender issues in West Papua after watching the films 'Mutiara Dalam Noken' and 'Mama Mariode', expressing that such stories are rarely heard coming from there.
The event brought lesser discussed but equally critical Papuan issues such as education, healthcare, and land rights to a targeted audience, as opposed to the focus on politics, violence and the independence movement in the mainstream media.
In 1965, based on rumors of members of the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI/Partai Komunis Indonesia) kidnapping and killing army generals, and the party's Indonesian Women's Movement (Gerwani/Gerakan Wanita Indonesia) erotically dancing around their dead bodies, a concerted campaign was carried out by the New Order government to increase social and political tension and to provoke people to take revenge against PKI's members and supporters. Some believed in the rumors without any alternative channels of information, and were ready to attack the PKI physically and psychologically.
Roughly three weeks after the death of the generals in Jakarta, a wave of mass killings began to take place all across Indonesia. In the third week of October 1965, massacres started occuring in Central Java, followed by similar incidents in East Java in November, and on the island of Bali in December. Sporadic killings also happened in other parts of the country, such as in North Sumatra and East Nusa Tenggara.
A few months into 1966, at least one million Indonesians were killed, with scores more being imprisoned and tortured. The victims included members of the PKI, ethnic Chinese, as well as trade unionists, teachers, civil society activists, leftist artists and others who certainly did not have any connection with the September 30 Movement or the PKI.
A documentary film with narratives derived from the public, the victims or even the perpetrators is increasingly being used for advocacy. After the collapse of the New Order, several documentary films on the tragedy of 1965 have been produced for use in advocacy. These films feature narratives derived from the public, the victims, or even the perpetrators, and the narrative history produced through them is a multi-dimensional and multi-narrative one, as the writing of history requires not only written sources, but also oral sources.
Below is a selection of some films on the 1965 tragedy from the victims' point of view. 'Jembatan Bacem', 'Jagal', and 'Mass Grave' highlight the testimonies of victims' family members who were either directly involved or who witnessed the trauma and its social impact.
Jembatan BacemJagal - The Act of Killing, the award-winning film by Joshua Oppenheimer.
The killing of six generals and one middle-ranking officer of the Indonesian Army on October 1st, 1965 was the pretext of the 1965 Tragedy. The military coup coincided with massive propaganda, where facts and data were blacked out. The press was controlled by the military news bureau, Berita Yudha, and other newspapers were banned. History became banal as it was delivered and diverted by the New Order regime.
I'd like to use Antonio Gramsci’s term, "cultural hegemony", which is equated with the "strength" of a particular regime. In this context, the hegemonic position is not only demonstrated by the ability of the New Order in the control of every public space, but also through practices of political and cultural deviation, including in education.
This hegemony exists not only in text books, but also in audiovisual media. For example, every year, all students across the country are required to watch a film about the coup d’état by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), The film, 'Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI', was directed by Arifin C. Noer and is categorized as 'documentary-drama' by analysts.
It highlights the torture of seven Army Generals by communists, and everything from the script to the visual dialogue portray communism, communists, the women’s movement (Gerwani) and all other related communities as being wicked and evil. By broadcasting the film on national television on the every September the 30th, generations born during the New Order period would only be able to perceive the idea of communism through its narrative.
You can watch the four parts of Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI below, and compare it with 'Shadow Play', a highly objective film on the event by created by independent film group Offstream, after Indonesia regained its democracy in 1998.
Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (Part 1) Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (Part 2) Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (Part 3)
Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (Part 4)
Shadow Play: Indonesia's Years of Living Dangerously
In late August, one of the participants of Camp Chindwin, our Southeast Asia Video Camp, Jessie from EarthRights International invited EngageMedia to their workshop to run a session on effective video advocacy.
Finding serious flaws relating to land rights, resettlement and environmental protection in Myanmar, EarthRights set up two schools - EarthRights School Mekong and EarthRights School Myanmar. They did have a Land Rights training workshop this year and last year, but what I attended was second of 3 documentary filmmaking workshops they are holding this year to train young activists from Kayah, Shan, Mon, and Rakhine states, as well as Yangon Division.
This workshop covered an introduction to human and environmental rights, campaigns, and storytelling for advocacy and I facilitated a dialogue leading up to it, focusing on how to make advocacy videos and what the goals and impact of films can be.
After the participants and I played some games to warm up, we started screening a video from the Philippines, 'Pangarap sa Buhay'. This film has a strong message delivered in a very simple way, and gives a example of a good advocacy video. We then discussed how advocacy videos provide a dynamic and inventive platform to tell your story and about your world.
I then shared tips on producing community video and we watched a series of community videos from the Southeast Asian region. After watching each video, we discussed them in groups based on three questions: What is the main message of the video? What is its target audience? How can we generate our own story ideas like this?
The participants pondered on the last question and shared different story ideas based on the Myanmar context. For example, when we screened 'Masters of our Land' from the Papuan Voices 2 collection, we talked about similar land grabbing issues in Myanmar and the results were amazing. They were inspired and came up with various story ideas to highlight land grabbing issues and we discussed how to develop those ideas step by step.
One of the participants asked during the discussions. "We often have to work on issues that are considered sensitive by the government, so how can we protect ourselves when working on such topics?". A conclusion that we arrived at is to "find a balance in your film".
I shared that I love being a filmmaker and my passion for fieldwork and the outdoors carries me through any hurdles I may face. But news of tragedies every year keep me asking, “How can this still be happening? What is the balance, and should there be a balance in what I present? How can I find joy in being a documentary filmmaker in Myanmar with all the challenges that filmmakers face from the state and public?" I continue struggling to find the answers to some of those questions.
The day ended with my presentation on mobile video production. Documentary film making is starting to become popular in Myanmar, and we can start producing short films even on mobile devices and disseminate them on social media platforms. I shared some examples of good films made on mobile devices and also shared mobile editing apps like Splice and StoryMaker.
Both video advocacy and community video are powerful methods through which filmmakers are able to more creatively express and share their ideas, which are essential components for learning and growth in Myanmar's political climate. The best way to foster creativity is to show audiences how much the human mind is capable of imagining. That's something I learned from the EarthRights workshop in Myanmar!
An alumni of Papuan Voices, Martha Langowuyo has been active in SKP Jayapura as a media volunteer for the past several years while finishing her studies at Cendrawasih University. During the program, she has gained various technical and non-technical skills from our staff and also from a mentor who was assigned to assist Martha in video production.
We conducted training in camera handling by shooting and recording daily activities in some of the major streets in Yogyakarta. After shooting, we evaluated all the footage and discussed on how to improve it. We also combined aspects of journalism within the video production framework, where Martha learned about journalism ethics, informed consent, and planning and conducting an interview.
Even since the application process for the residency, Martha had already outlined her issue of interest and video production plan. She was keen to produce a video on access to education for Papuan women, using the case study of Papuan students in Yogyakarta.
On the first day, we discussed how her idea could be developed further and worked on a more detailed production plan which lasted up until her return to Jayapura at the end of the month.
During her stay in Java, Martha also visited six NGOs and video community organizations. Apart from these visits, she was also exposed to events such the Kamisan demonstrations and learned about story development from more seasoned filmmakers in Jakarta.
She also conducted some interviews delving deeper into social and gender-related issues in Papua. Her interviews with prominent womens rights activist, Ita Natalia, and rural researcher Yando Zakaria are also available on the EngageMedia site.
Near the end of her residency, Martha completed a short documentary on Papuan issues and conducted a public screening of the film, which was attended by over 50 people. The post-screening discussion focused on the role of women in Papua and how the militarization of Papua affects the social and economic lives of ordinary people. You can view Martha's video, 'Bangkitlah dan Belajarlah!', with English subtitles below.
Martha Langowuy's residency was sponsored by the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club, through its Harry Burton Memorial Fund. Reuters cameraman Harry Burton was murdered by pro-Taliban militants in an ambush in Afghanistan in November 2001 while on secondment from his Jakarta base. The fund set up in his memory aims to support the training of journalists, with priority given to camera operators, from the remoter parts of Indonesia.
In August, Myanmar faced one of the worst natural disasters in recent history, with four of its states being declared natural disaster zones by the United Nations. At least 27 people have died and over 156,000 people are displaced, many losing their homes and an entire season of crops.
Many dams and reservoirs were left overflowing, and communities around the country have been cut off from trade, affecting the lives and livelihoods of a reported one million people. Citizens started the #SaveMyanmar campaign to help victims of the flooding in various ways.
We collaborated with the Myanmar Youth Filmmaker Network at a fundraising event on International Youth Day in Yangon, where youth from across the country sold food, arts and crafts, and holding lift-a-tons to raise money. Our team sold documentary DVDs, helped take promotional pictures for people who wanted to join the campaign and shared some video editing software and apps.
I brought DVDs of our Crossroads and Papuan Voices collections and Camp Chindwin participants, filmmakers Thet Oo Maung, Lei Lei Aye and Soe Arkar Tun sold their own films. A novelist and filmmaker Mal Khaing and Myanmar film celebrity Su Aw Chel visited and joined in our event.
By the end of the event, we sold almost 60 DVDs and donated the proceeds to the Youth Day organizers. As water levels started significantly receding this month, work has begun to aid in rebuilding homes and restarting lives.
In July 2015 more than thirty leaders in the Video for Change field gathered in Tepoztlán, Mexico, for the second global meeting of the Video4Change Network. The Video4Change Network is a global consortium of non-profits advancing the use of video and technology for social change. The event convened organisations from India, Argentina, Kenya, Malaysia, the US, Guatemala and more for a week of strategic conversations, knowledge sharing and network building. The network is made up of more than a dozen organisations, primarily with a focus on short-form, citizen video from the 'global south'.
Hosted by SocialTIC, EngageMedia and WITNESS, the week began with a stock take of the activities and objectives of each organisation, many of whom hadn't seen each other since the previous convening in Indonesia in 2012. Discussions ensued regarding emerging technologies such as live streaming, the state of the Video for Change movement in different regions, mapping training pedagogies, and much more.
We examined existing projects within the network, such as the impact initiative, and explored future strategy and activities of the network, coming up with dozens of project ideas to grow the Video for Change field.
Given the event's location in Latin America there was a particular emphasis on developing relationships with regional groups. Approximately a third of the organisations present were from Latin America, including Ojo al Sancocho from Colombia, Cine en Movimiento from Argentina, and Red Tz'ikin from Guatemala. They brought a wealth of community cinema knowledge, as well as a series of concepts including 'decolonizing the frame' and 'audiovisual sovereignty', which we explored through the week. A two day Latin America Video4Change meeting followed the global convening.
We wrapped the global convening with a fantastic public day in Mexico City that included dozens of workshops, and a public forum at the Centro de Cultura Digital.
We are excited about the next stages of the network and the contribution such a body can make to the broader field. Having the opportunity to share challenges and knowledge, and to collectively develop ideas with our peers has been a hugely valuable experience.
It was a lovely Friday evening and people started to gather at the EngageMedia office in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for a screening of five films from West Papua. One of the films (featured below) was produced by Martha Langowuyo, who has been with us for one month as a participant of our new residency programme.
Over 40 people of different backgrounds and nationalities came out to the screening, including many young Papuans who are currently studying in Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta is fast becoming a hub for students from the Eastern part of Indonesia as the city has a combination of high education standards and a rather low cost of living. It's a good mix, I would say.
After screening Martha's film, we also played some videos from both volumes of Papuan Voices. The short but intense showing of Papuan content almost immediately started a heated discussion on the political and social affairs of the beautiful land. Aside from the larger political situation, one issue that got attention was the rising case of violence against women in Papua.
After many requests from our guests, we played the selection of videos for a second time that night. We were really glad that so many people came to our event, packed out office and participated actively. We hope they would share and continue these discussions everywhere they go.
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.