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Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Opinions

by Nicola Crawford, Refugee School Impact Grant VISTA Member

A week ago more than 20 community members came to our office-turned-cinema to watch Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country.  The documentary highlights the social unrest and conditions that have led so many Burmese to flee their country to refugee camps, and for some, to resettlement here in the US and Washington State. Following the film, Mona Han, with the Coalition for Refugees from Burma, and Clifford Chankim, with Refugee Women’s Alliance, fielded questions, sharing more about the current state of Burma, fleeing Burma, life in the refugee camps, and resettlement experiences here in Washington, where in recent years the Burmese are one of the largest groups being resettled.

Monks Protesting in Burma

Monks Protesting in Saffron Revolution of 2007

Quotes from participants after watching the film:

Burma VJ‘s website describes the film as, “armed with video-cameras a tenacious band of Burmese reporters face down death to expose the repressive regime controlling their country”. These video journalists (hence “VJ”) captured on film the Saffron Revolution in 2007 when more than 100,000 people, led by the Buddhist monks, marched peacefully in protest of the military government which has ruled since 1962. Film footage also included the government’s violent crackdown, leading to a new wave of refugees in one of the world’s biggest, ongoing refugee crisis. The images smuggled out shocked the world and put a pressure for reform upon the government. As well as offering a wealth of information about the situation in Burma, this film provokes thoughts over the role of journalism and video activism in today’s political climates.

Resources about the film, Burma, and refugees from Burma:

Burma VJ Official website 
To order a copy of the video or get more information about the film.

Burma VJ – Reporting from a Closed Country (Educational Resource)
An educator’s guide with pre/post activities, discussion prompts, and resources.

Coalition for Refugees from Burma – Volunteer Handbook
Background information about refugees from Burma and the U.S. resettlement program.

Department of State – Background Note: Burma
Information about the history and political conditions of Burma.

Refugees from Burma:  Their Backgrounds and Refugee Experiences
Cultural profile with overview of Burma, ethnic groups of Burma, and their resettlement experience.

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