The Free Burma VJ Campaign and the Best Friend Library on Saturday organised a special event to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of Burma's nationwide pro-democracy uprising where shared information about new campaign developments.
The event took place at the Sangdee Gallery in Chiang Mai, and attracted around 90 people.
Speakers at the event included Aung Myo Min, an 1988 student leader and executive director of the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, and Kyaw Zwa Moe, a former political prisoner and current managing editor of The Irrawaddy. Both discussed how their past experiences continue to shape and inform their work today.
Aung Myo Min (executive director of the HREIB)
Kyaw Zwa Moe (Managin editor of the Irrawaddy)
In addition, we learned about the Democratic Voice of Burma’s Free Burma VJ campaign, for the release of its 17 video journalists currently jailed in Burma.
Free Burma VJ clip
Géraldine May (Coordinator of the Free Burma VJ campaign)
(Head of DVB English language Television)
Free Burma VJ t-shirt
We also explored a recently formed campaign calling for the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations in Burma.
Garrett Kostin(The Best Friend Library - Chiang Mai - www.thebestfriend.org)
Petition for the Commission of Inquiry
Finally, attendees were treated to live music.
Photos by James Mackay
reading of poetry,
Ye Wint Thu (Reporter at DVB)
and complimentary Burmese food,
The Free Burma VJ Campaign and The Best Friend library are grateful for your continued support of Burma and its people, and we thank you for your participation in the event on Saturday.
An evocative and intensely contemplative poem written inside a Burmese prison
Kyaw Min Yu, also known as Jimmy, is a Burmese writer, poet, and political activist. He was born in Rangoon in 1969. He was arrested in 1989 at the age of 20 for peacefully voicing his political views. Following his release from prison in 2005 after nearly 16 years, he married a fellow activist that he met in prison. When their daughter was only four months old, both Jimmy and his wife were detained for opposing the Burmese regime during the 2007 Saffron Revolution. They were sentenced to 65 years’ imprisonment each.
by Kyaw Min Yu
The door! The door!
This door has been with me
for nearly two decades.
I’ve had no right to open it or close –
and by itself it swings in and out
to seal the fates of many lives.
The door is heavy-set –
it puts its iron jacket on
to guard my every particle of breath.
This is the door which forces bodies to crumble
and minds to slump,
the door which lets me hold its grille
and sing my song beyond
never lets my thoughts dance through.
The door is never smartened up,
but tends attentively
to those small bowls
that come inside and then go out
and have the name of food –
the thin and fragile cups
that get inside and then slip out
and bear the name of water hot and cold –
and to my feet, but not my knees
going in and going out.
This is the only gateway
to my damp and suffocating cage.
When hot weather stifles
this is the door that scalds the inmates;
when cold weather overwhelms,
the door which gnaws their limbs to marrow.
As each day rises
I can bid the sun “Hello”
but as nights fall
the door will never tell me
of the sky’s good news.
Though in days’ blossoming
I touch the ground with my bare feet
the dusk then shrouds
the door which steals and locks the sky.
Oh my God!
This is the door that judges innocence a convict
and considers convicts innocent
the door which tightens every stiffness
as a reason to protect its hinge
the door which turns openers to evil
and closers into good.
This is the door that may acquire grace
by opening in time.
The door which lets me
roam around this ten-pace world.
This is the door which separates two persons
with different uniforms and
When the door is closed
the uniform inside can feel unhappy
while the uniform outside’s secure.
At the time of the opening
the uniform inside relaxes cautiously
and that without begins to fear.
At night the uniform within must lie down still
even if it doesn’t want to sleep; while
the uniform outside must walk for ever
up and down and up and down
through all the sleepless hours.
This is the door that won’t permit them
but multiplies their hatred
time and time and time again –
the door that makes the one outside
feel as if arrested by both hope and fear
and the one inside to
sense a conscience free.
Though this door will never be forever open,
neither will it close eternally.
This door may crush my body
but it can’t destroy belief:
my soul’s set free – a shining star.
This is the door that must bow down
to the greater truths of a beautiful mind
that must break free from its cage.
Like the radiance of a reckless slut,
the door now bears my forehead’s print.
Too cold to feel, the door is
showing off its iron bars
beating and chastising those who enter in
and plucking, piece by piece, their sanity apart.
The door! The door!
My blood runs hot with consciousness and
opens up my soul,
and when Aurora spreads her wings
that cold and solid door will disappear.