Update Sat Sept 29
A video showing the shooting of Kenji Nagai, the Japanese photographer who was shot at close range by Burmese security forces in Rangoon, was broadcast on Japanese television and posted to YouTube.
Kenji Nagai was an independent photojournalist which illustrates the predicament many free contractors and amateurs find themselves in when smaller media sources refuse to risk sending their own journalists into a danger zone like Gaza, Baghdad and Bosnia where Nagai had also worked but profit from selling their work to big media outlets. Brad Will, an American Indymedia journalist was similarly shot and killed in Oaxaca last year.
September 28, 2007
When the military junta took over in the early 90′s, they changed the name of their country from Burma to Myanmar. So many people refuse to use the word “Myanmar.” The same is true for the capitol Rangoon which was changed to Yangon. And Pagan for Bagan.
When we were in Burma three years ago, locals were extremely wary of being seen talking to us foreigners. Indeed for a long time, it was illegal and you could be arrested for it. An ex-English teacher and his wife declined to take tea with us. “Oh, we cannot,” he said. A Catholic priest just looked skyward and shrugged his shoulders when we asked him when he thought it would ever come to an end. A Catholic nun who ran an orphanage had tears in her eyes as she told me about her Shan father who was tortured and killed by the junta near the Thai border. A government run taxi driver told us there was “no fighting in Myanmar,” when I asked about the torture and killing in the rural countryside. The irony was that just the night before, in an upscale guesthouse owned by a German expat in Bagan, we had watched a BBC special on the systematic genocide of minority groups on satellite TV which is unaffordable by nearly all Burmese.
Burma’s democratically elected leader, Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has spent much of the last 18 years under house arrest. You could feel the oppression in the air. My heart went out to these nearly forgotten people.
So the fact that today monks and lay people alike are publicly putting their lives on the line again after the slaughter of thousands in a student uprising in 1988 is downright amazing…but giving testament to the fierce but patient desire in the hearts of people for freedom and justice. You Tube is awash in videos taken by cell phone cameras and smuggled out of the country. U.S TV anchors are making strange comments…like “Burma? Where in the world is Burma?” If I didn’t see red robes on the marchers I would think this was Oaxaca last year. I know how desperate people are for the world to reach out and support them when they are helplessly looking down the barrels of guns. The mainstream press in the U.S. press didn’t seem to care so much last year about the Oaxaquenos until an American journalist was assasinated by government thugs. Yesterday the government reported that 9 people were killed in Burma…including a Japanese photojournalist. Human rights groups report that many more than that were killed. What choice do they have?
Tags: Burma, Burma (Myanmar), Myanmar, Video, Videos