Burma's Lucky Bibliophile
When the Ministry of Information’s director general visited Ye Htet Oo’s library in 2010, it could have been disastrous. Ye Htet Oo, then a recent college graduate, was running his new library in downtown Rangoon on the sly, without approval from the former military regime, and was told he could face three months in jail for every book he lent without permission from the censorship board. Unable to get a library license from the government, which saw libraries as a way to spread subversive ideas, he fronted his operation as a bookshop but kept a collection of unapproved library books hidden in a back room. Then one day, unknown to the young bibliophile, the ministry’s director general—who has since become the deputy minister of information and President Thein Sein’s spokesman—entered the “bookshop” and walked straight into the secret room. [more inside]
As the plane descended into Rangoon's international airport, I noticed a slight change in my heartbeat. I felt calm, but also excited, knowing that I was about to return to Burma for the first time in 24 years.
Former student dissident and exiled journalist Aung Zaw spends Five Days in Burma
. [more inside]
You may remember
the 7.5 hour documentary released in 2009 which allowed you to travel the journey between Bergen to Oslo from the comfort of your home.
If your wanderlust was fired up watching that video, then you may enjoy some of the other trips you can take.
have lived in Burma for generations, as a Muslim minority in a predominantly Buddhist country. The government does not recognize them
as citizens. Burmese Buddhists have referred to them as "illegal Bengalis
", and terrorists
In 2012, over 100,000 Rohingya were forced out of their homes during a violent conflict with Buddhists
of the Rakhine ethnic group. The displaced Rohingya now live in refugee camps
that they're not allowed to leave. With insufficient food provided, refugees resort to scavenging for grass and plants
to survive. [more inside]
Researchers at Oregon State University have uncovered a unprecedented find: a spider attacking a wasp
, both captured
in amber (larger image here
). The story, published in the journal Historical Biology
, details that the attack occurred some 100 million years ago, during the early Cretaceous, in what is now Myanmar. Both the spider and the wasp belong to now-extinct species.
The amber fragment also contained the body of another spider in the same web, which may be the oldest evidence yet for social behaviour in spiders.
Three years ago, Phil Jablon (aka The Projectionist) started a concerted effort to start documenting the rapidly-vanishing stand-alone movie theaters and former theaters in Southeast Asia.
Today his website, The Southeast Asia Movie Theater Project
is a historian and movie-theater lover's dream. Jablon has captured the faded
, the lost
, the torched
, the almost lost
, the repurposed
, the reborn
, and the unbounded
. [more inside]
A Burmese general has defected from the country to tell the world about the military junta's top secret nuclear weapons program.
Sai Thein Win reveals that Singapore and Germany have been selling SLORC technology used to convert uranium into weapons-grade fuel. The end goal of the program is not to defend Burma from other countries but to protect the military elite from the underground democratic opposition
. In response, US Senator Jim Webb cancels
his trip to Burma. A full report will air on Al Jazeera
starting at 6AM GMT.
Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese (Myanmar) activist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize,
was arrested after her home was invaded
by Vietnam War veteran and Mormon evangelist
. John William Yettaw swam to her compound
May 3 and was arrested two days later on his way back. Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the last 20 years under house arrest, and she was supposed to finally be freed May 27. She will go on trial
for the illegal visitor on Monday; if convicted, she could face up to five years
"weapons" paintings by San Minn
are not shown in his native Burma where
Rappers, journalists and comedians have discovered a new crime
– helping people devastated by cyclone Nargis. [more inside]
What if you were one of the Rohingya
people, and you faced death
in trying to escape, or were expelled
from your Homeland. Would you wait
for others to help
, or would you try
and do it yourself...
Can the Burmese people rescue themselves?
A powerful piece
by George Packer in the New Yorker
on the recent history and current conditions in Burma
Monks Succeed in Cyclone Relief as Junta Falters.
In Burma (Myanmar) the Buddhist monks
are doing more than anyone to help the victims
of Cyclone Nargis. At the same time, Burmese officials are trying to stem the influence of the monks
by forcing survivors who have sought refuge in monasteries to return to their shattered homes
. [Via Barbara's Buddhism Blog.]
A week in Burma after the storm
is the second of two anonymous eyewitness reports at danwei.org
of the impact and aftermath of Cyclone Nargis
. It is the most gripping and tremendously sad report I have read yet on the human tragedy that is Nargis and the Myanmar Junta's non-response. [more inside]
On Flooded Burmese Coast, the Smell of Rot and Death
The situation in Burma (Myanmar) is deteriorating rapidly. Six days after Cyclone Nargis
ripped through Burma, leaving untold devestation in its wake and flooding vast stretches of delta, it is estimated the death toll may climb to 100,000. Now, a Second catastrophe looms in Burma as the regime blocks aid shipments
. Time is of the essence. The U.N. has launched an appeal
to the Burmese government, who have thus far been slow to act. The news is truly grim: 'I stopped counting bodies on journey down river of death'
Small 'Panty' Demonstration Held in Rangoon.
It seems the Panties
movement (discussed previously
) is gaining momentum
. And now you too can throw panties at junta leader General Than Shwe at Ready Aim Vote
. [Via Lanna Action for Burma.]
Monks march again in Burma.
Approximately one hundred Buddhist monks marched in protest oif government policies in the central city of Pakokku yesterday. One monk who spoke to journalists claims more marches will be organized.
Will we see a resurgence of the mass marches--and crackdowns--of August and September?
Myanmar is apparently using photos sent to websites, television stations and other media to arrest protesters
taking a cue from and praising(!) China's post-handling of Tienamen square in '89. Relations are mighty cozy
between the two nations (according to the big one), but the words "vassal state" are starting to be bandied about
[Via Crikey] and "M" link quite disturbing [more inside]
Some amazing photos
of the ongoing anti-government protests
by Buddhist monks in Burma
. Things are getting tense
The fight to free Burma
has been making noise lately. Protests
are picking up in Burma
, international activists are putting pressure on the UN
to step in, and Jim Carrey
has joined as yet another
celebrity to try to bring public attention to the effort. Burma is an amazing place and the Burmese people are some of the warmest, most hospitable, beautiful, and silliest people I have ever encountered. The people of Burma deserve a better world. Is the tide shifting? Will this be a turning point for Burma? I hope so.
From Hunter to Hunted
"In his quest to free slaves
around the world, Aaron Cohen
thought he’d seen it all. Then he went to Myanmar."
On the heal of her husbands fairly recent op-ed
in WSJ, Laura Bush writes her own op-ed
(subscription possibly required) about the whole Burma situation
(or Myanmar) of all topics. Why did she do it? The Huffington Post speculates
In which the author submits to the pleasures of a transgender spirit possession festival in Burma
. [Via Disinformation.]
3000 feet up in the mountains of Eastern Myanmar (Burma) lies Inle Lake^
, a giant freshwater lake that is populated
by 70,000 people living
in four separate cities on top of
the lake. They dwell
upon the surface of Lake Inle, living a unique lifestyle that seems wholly unto itself, untouched by the world outside. All pictures found using the amazing FlickrStorm tool.
This highlight reel
of people playing the traditional Myanmar game of Chinlone
is pretty amazing. Being a particularly ignorant westerner, I really had no idea of the grace & athleticism involved in the game.
Burma's military overseers, possibly in fear of a US invasion or internal strife, are moving the country's capital
. At 6:37 a.m. on November 6th, (a time selected by one of the country’s leading astrologists), Myanmar's government began relocating its ministries to a 100 square-km complex in Pyinmana, a remote forest-bound location about 390 km north of Rangoon. Some analysts said the move is being driven by fears of a US invasion
, while many in Myanmar believe it is due to worries about a possible internal uprising
. (This despite a commitment to a "discipline-flourishing democracy"
.) The country's neighbors were put-off because they hadn't been informed of the move
Fortunately, the government is sure the relocation won't affect the country's tourism industry
The country formerly known as Burma officially denies reports of a coup.
Rumors circulated last week that Senior General Than Shwe had been deposed by his military regime's number-two, General Maung Aye. Burma-watchers discounted
the reports, with some suggesting that the junta concocted the story as a trick
. The country's "ossified leaders" blamed the BBC
for the rumors, while astrologers in Rangoon believe that Than Shwe's wife spread the story. The general's wife, it seems, is worried about Mars
Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest has been extended.
The leader of Burma's
democracy movement and a Nobel laureate
, Suu Kyi
was arrested a year and a half ago after her motorcade was attacked
. Many prisoners in Burma
(a.k.a. Myanmar) were recently released, but this is widely seen
as a political ploy
. [More inside]
The great firewall of Burma.
"Burma's military regime has reluctantly dipped a toe in the cyber sea, but for most of the country's population owning a modem without permission means 15 years in jail." I guess I should stop complaining about my dial-up connection.
My Gun was as Tall as Me
is a new report by Human Rights Watch
about children forced to become soldiers in Burma (Myanmar). They estimate as many as 70,000 soldiers are under 18, some as young as 11
. (Previous posts about Burma
and modern slavery
Aung San Suu Kyi released.
"My release should not be looked at as a major breakthrough for democracy. For all people in Burma to enjoy basic freedom - that would be the major breakthrough," she said. I know, but it's a start.
Is Aung San Suu Kyi going to be released?
Speculation's mounting that the military government of Myanmar is going to end opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's 18-month house arrest, after a U.N. envoy's trip to the country. Think that'll help, or even happen? (Suu Kyi's a bit of a cause celebre at the moment -- Bono's had her face on a t-shirt and he wrote "Walk On" about her, so you know something's going on...)
Bulletproof teenage twins surrender!
Johnny and Luther Htoo, leaders of a Myanmar rebel militia called God's Army, have surrendered to Thai authorities
(who apparently coaxed the boys out of the jungle with crackers). Are today's teens leading rebel armies too soon?