Monday, November 14, 2011

The Saffron Revolution and Burma VJ's Voice

Since 1962, Burma (or the Republic of Myanmar) has been under military rule. Due to this, the country can be considered one of the least developed nations in the world. According to the United Nations, along with several other organizations, the country has breached a number of human rights violations. Some of these violations include child labor, human trafficking and denial of freedom of speech.

In 2007 the Burmese nation was challenged by anti-government protests. The protests were first offset by the removal of fuel subsidies, and were dealt with by the Junta (the state peace and development council) by arresting and detaining protesters. However, following the initial protests, they began to be led by Buddhists monks, who were allowed to proceed with the protests for some period until, once again, the government had a renewed upper-hand. The leader of the pro-democracy party, Aung San Suu Kyi, also played a large part in the protests (later dubbed the Saffron Revolution). The pro-democratic leader, who faced period of house arrest for almost a twenty year period, had several meetings with the United Nations on how to solve the problems, which her nation faced.

The civil resistance that was being experienced in Burma was not only led by the Buddhist monks of the nation, but also by a number of student and the oppositions political activists. The resistance that was being faced in the nation was also one of the first to be recorded by a number of citizen and local journalists. Through the help of video journalism (VJ), the Norwegian film director Anders Østergaard, who through the use of the Oslo-based broadcaster Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) was able to deliver undercover reporting to the rest of the world. Along with a number of other undercover VJ’s, Joshua the narrator of documentary, leads a team to uncover footage of the 2007 uprising, to make sure it reaches the DVB and more importantly the rest of the world.

Despite some of the raw footage, which can be witnessed by audience members, “Burma VJ” received substantial criticism. Much of the documentary’s footage has been dramatically reenacted. However, the filmmakers exclaim that the reconstruction of some of the scenes should not be the focus of the film. The real issue, as many will argue, is the plight which the Burmese people and country are faced with. Through the documentary, “Burma VJ”, the Burmese people were offered a voice and the world was given an insight into a country, which has faced military restriction for the past 60 years.

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