I urge all people with a heart or a conscience, all people who love freedom to please go see “The Lady” a new film about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the voice of democracy in Burma. To help you understand the situation in Burma and the significance of The Lady, please watch this award winning film, (for free on youtube) Burma VJ. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJLr6lPH9mI
Burma VJ is a documentary shot by an underground network of dissidents inside of Burma, during the Saffron Revolution of August, 2007. Monks and students stood up to government with nothing but hope in their hearts and were shot down indiscriminately. The Lady, Aung San Suu Kyi, was under house arrest at the time, but the people flocked to her compound, like pilgrims descending on the holly city, hoping for even a glimpse of their angel. She is the hope of an entire nation, the only chance for a free and democratic Burma.
I began my own work inside of the country during the crackdown in September, 2007. There were days when I was fairly certain I was the only or possibly one of very few foreign journalists inside of the country. Using satellite phones, provided by rebel soldiers, I was in communication with western media, reporting from inside of the war zone. While CNN covered the events inside of Yangon as well as they could, the war in the tribal regions went largely, unreported by major media.
The movie, Rambo IV, set in Burma, was just coming out at that time and many Shan civilians and soldiers were confused by my presence in their stronghold. Some thought I was Rambo or connected with Rambo, or that I was the first of a group of American soldiers coming to rescue them.
I never felt so powerless in my life.
Back in Chiang Mai, I told a long time cross border aid worker how I felt and he said, “Be the voice.” That was the best gift I could give back to my Shan brothers and the Burmese civilians who had given so much to me. I tried to be the voice, telling as many people as I could about the conflict.
The Government of Burma hates journalists and actually placed a price on my head. But now, I am safe in Malaysia. My Shan friends, hwoever, are still in the jungle, risking their lives. Burmese civilians are still suffering under the oppression of a retched regime. Burma is still not free, but there is hope, movement… Aung San Suu Kyi is free to walk among her people and to run for public office.
The brave people who made this movie, Burma VJ, risked their lives to do so. In fact, the narrator was never able to return to his home. Nearly all of the news that comes out of Burma comes from underground local journalists, who have accepted their own death or imprisonment as the price for speaking out.
For me, my Burma work was something I could always walk away from. But for them, this is their life. And as the song for Aung San Suu Kyi, “Freedom From Fear” tells us, in Burma, “Life can end in four grey walls.”
Please watch Burma VJ and comment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJLr6lPH9mI
Antonio Graceffo is self-funded and needs donation to continue his writing and video work. To support the project you can donate through the paypal link on his website, www.speakingadventure.com
Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living inAsia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk fromBrooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey throughAsia, learning martial arts in various countries.
Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at amazon.com. The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at http://www.blackbeltmag.com/warrior_odyssey
See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on http://www.blackbeltmag.com
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