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]
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]
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]
Punks Not Dead.... but it can get you killed. Punk rock in oppresive regimes.
- In Search Of Lost Time - is a streaming mix of beautiful 78s from around the world, collected and curated by Ian Nagoski. "I started sifting through boxes of junky old 78s that no one else wanted about 15 years ago, and almost right away, I made a rule: Anything that wasn't in English, buy it." [more inside]
"Voice of San Diego
reporter Adrian Florido set out to find a family, he writes
, "whose experience could illustrate the day-to-day challenge for Burmese refugees
" in San Diego, since "more than 200 Burmese families have arrived [in that city] since 2006." In the process, Florido met a 24-year-old man named Har Sin" who was unable to hear, speak, read, write or use sign language, and wound up writing a two-part story about him: In a New Land, Hoping to Hear
and Breaking Free of a Life Without Language
. The story is available as a downloadable pdf: A Silent Journey Series. / Via The Kicker, the daily blog of the Columbia Journalism Review [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.
For Us Surrender Is Out of the Question.
"Living with the crazy, fearless young men who risk life and limb to document Burma's genocide."
The world is closing in
on the Moken way of life. Sights and Sounds
by the late Nicolas Reynard.
serves both as home and transport.
they are built.
The Moken have enhanced underwater eyesight
However with probably fewer than 1000 people
still pursuing the traditional lifesyle; It's sadly time to say goodbye
( Further reading.
Previously / related 1; 2; 3
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]
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'
Burma: It Can't Wait
is a month-long video campaign by the US Campaign for Burma
to raise awareness of the plight of Burma
(Myanmar) and Aung San Suu Kyi
. There will be one video a day for 30 days from celebrities including Will Ferrel, Sarah Silverman and Eddie Izzard. [more inside]
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?
Panties for Peace
"This is a way for women around the world to express their outrage."
[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.
Burmese artist Htein Lin
was imprisoned by his country's military government from 1998 to 2004 on charges of planning opposition protests. In prison he was forced to improvise to continue painting
, using paints smuggled in by guards and white cotton prison uniforms as canvases. In place of brushes he used his fingers, cigarette lighters, syringes, pieces of netting, dinner plates, and blocks of soap. Burma Inside Out
(PDF), an exhibition of some of his prison work
, will be on display at the Asia House
Gallery in London from July 27 to October 13.
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.]
The Problem of the Rupee.
Starting off as a silver-based unit of currency by the 15th century ruler, Sher Shah Suri
, the Rupee (wiki
) has had a long and chequered history encompassing most of Asian and East-African colonial history. Issued by the British
, the French
, the Dutch
, the Japanese
, the Portuguese
, the Germans
and even the Danish
, the rupee as a brand-name existed far beyond India
, Sri Lanka Seychelles
or the Mauritius
. (more inside)
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.
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
60s/70s psych, crossover, beat, and a go-go from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam
with band/music scene histories, streaming audio, cover art, etc. Part of a large site
devoted to 60s/70s progressive music around the world.
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]
is the brutal
Trouble is, its Grandmaster may be a fantasist
and a fraud
Canto do Brasil [Flash, sound, MiguelCardosoFilter]
is a street-level view of Brazil made by photographer Geoffrey Hiller, more precisely a view of Salvador Bahia, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo.
Another amazing project of his is Burma, Grace Under Pressure [Flash, sound]
, exposing Burma's beauty and sadness.
Also check Eastern Europe: Visions & Icons [Flash]
,where Hiller's post-Berlin Wall photographs are accompanied by Lev Liberman's moving text, New York City: After The Fall [Flash, sound]
, an elegy to New Yorkers affected by 9/11, and his journal from Vietnam
Southeast Asian Monuments: A Selection of 100 Slides.
''100 slides of monuments in Mainland Southeast Asia ( Burma, Thailand,Cambodia, Vietnam, selected from the collection of Marijke J. Klokke, are presented here ... '
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.
Burmese villagers sue Unocal in an L.A. courtroom.
The villagers are charging that Unocal is responsible for human-rights abuses committed by the Burmese military along the company's $1.2 billion Yadana gas pipeline. Here's a Unocal website
responding to the suit. And the Free Burma Coalition's
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
"Why isn't Burma on Bush's 'Axis of Evil' list?"
A fair question considering the threat to its neighbors from its drugs and weapons trades, its nuclear ambitions, and its continuing horrible treatment of its own people
. And though Aung San Suu Kyi was released
shortly after Kurlantzick's article was written, the junta still has not held substantive talks
with her, but they have continued with their plans to build a nuclear reactor
(perhaps they're looking for a promotion from the measly 'Axis of Occasionally Evil'