Talk with Tim Aye Hardy about Burma (Wednesday, June 8th at 6:30p)

Hi everyone,

Tim Aye Hardy

"I was one of the lucky few. Up to 6,000 innocent protesters were gunned down, and many more were imprisoned or mysteriously disappeared in the night. I lost many colleagues and close friends." - Tim Aye Hardy.

Recently, TIME magazine featured an article with headline, UN Envoy: Burma Not Addressing Abuse.  Not that this is news, as the abuses within Burma are long-standing and ongoing.  In April, the Obama administration finally complied with a portion of the Jade Act signed into law in 2008 and appointed a Special Envoy to Burma, Derek Mitchell.  As calls for a Commission of Inquiry continue, how much of a difference will this recent appointment (presuming he is confirmed by US Senate) make for Burma?

Our thanks goes out in advance to our dear friend, Tim Aye Hardy, from the Burma Global Action Network.  Some of you may recall Tim from when he was with us in person for an event last July.  He has graciously agreed to give us an update, walking us through the twists and turns of the current situation in Burma.

At our next meeting on Wednesday, June 8th at 6:30p, Tim, who lives in NYC, will join us via Skype.  This special meeting will be held in Lake Forest instead of our usual location.  Here is the address:

Talk with Tim about Burma
Wednesday, June 8th @ 6:30p in Lake Forest, CA
(If you’d like to attend, please contact us at (949) 891-2005 or info@ocfordarfur.org and we will send you the address)

We have limited space for this meeting.  Hope you can join us.

Warmly,

Barbara & Anshul
Orange County for Darfur, a project of Living Ubuntu
ocfordarfur.org | blog | facebook

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Good books and films about mass atrocities in Sudan

Sudanese human skulls on display Mukjar, Sudan.

Sudanese human skulls on display Mukjar, Sudan.

April was Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. In honor of this, we compiled a Resource List of books and films themed around each of the past genocides that have commemorative dates in April, plus the regions where we focus our awareness and advocacy efforts on an ongoing basis.  We hope you will make use of this list as a way to both remember these genocides, and learn more about them.

In April we featured books and films associated with the genocides that have commemorative dates in April.  In May, the regions of our present day efforts are the focus.  A previous post was specific to books and films about the Darfur genocide and the list below is more inclusive (e.g. Darfur, South Sudan, Sudan).  This is the ninth post in this series, mass atrocities in Sudan.

Recommended Books:

A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide, by Eric Reeves
The Khartoum regime is committing genocide in Darfur while the international community watches in silence or with mere hand-wringing.  Action is essential now if we are not to see a further extension of the international failures so conspicuous in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Emma’s War, by Deborah Scroggins
Young British relief worker Emma McCune came to Sudan determined to make a difference in a country decimated by the longest-running civil war in Africa.  She became a near legend in the bullet-scarred, famine-ridden country, but her eventual marriage to the rebel commander Riek Machar made international headlines—and spelled disastrous consequences for her ideals.

Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide, by Rebecca Hamilton *favorite
This is the story of the individuals who organized protest marches, lobbied government officials, and raised funds in the belief that the outcry they created would force world powers to save the millions of Darfurians still at risk.

Heart of Darfur, by Lisa French Blaker
An experienced nurse with Doctors without Borders, the author was posted to Darfur in 2005 for nine months to “provide assistance to populations in distress”.  In Darfur she found plenty.  She worked not only under harsh physical conditions, but also the deliberate brutality and malice of the janjaweed and Sudanese government soldiers.

Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond, by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast
Don Cheadle teamed with human rights activist Prendergast to plead for greater awareness of the horrors of genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and issue a call to action.

Read more of this post

Good books and films about mass atrocities in the Congo

In Congo, "a dead rat is worth more than the body of a woman".

April was Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. In honor of this, we compiled a Resource List of books and films themed around each of the past genocides that have commemorative dates in April, plus the regions where we focus our awareness and advocacy efforts on an ongoing basis.

We hope you will make use of this list as a way to both remember these genocides, and learn more about them.  In April we featured books and films associated with the genocides that have commemorative dates in April.  In May, the regions of our present day efforts are the focus.  This is the eighth post in this series, the mass atrocities in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).

Recommended Books:

A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman, by Lisa Shannon
The book chronicles Shannon’s journey to the Congo to meet the women her run sponsored, and shares their incredible stories.  What begins as grassroots activism forces Shannon to confront herself and her life, and learn lessons of survival, fear, gratitude, and immense love from the women of Africa.

Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe, by Gerard Prunier
Prunier follows the 1996–2002 war in the Democratic Republic of Congo through many twists and turns.  Sparked by a Rwandan army incursion to clear out Hutu-dominated refugee camps on the border between the two countries, the conflict dragged in the armies of eight surrounding countries and an alphabet soup of Congolese guerrilla movements and tribal militias; millions died in the fighting and attendant massacres, starvation and disease.

All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo, by Bryan Mealer *favorite
Mealer chronicles the four years he spent covering the fighting and genocide in Congo.  In 1996,  Mealer came to the troubled nation as a freelance writer with little knowledge of ethnic loyalties, looking for a translator to help him navigate the complexities of conflict.

Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa, by Jason Stearns
Stearns vividly tells the story of this misunderstood conflict through the experiences of those who engineered and perpetrated it. He depicts village pastors who survived massacres, the child soldier assassin of President Kabila, a female Hutu activist who relives the hunting and methodical extermination of fellow refugees, and key architects of the war that became as great a disaster as–and was a direct consequence of–the genocide in neighboring Rwanda.

In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of  Disaster in Mobutu’s Congo, by Michela Wrong
For the past few decades, the Congo, one of Africa’s richest countries in natural resources, has been in an economic decline that has resulted in violence and lawlessness.  Wrong, a British journalist who spent six years covering Africa as a reporter for European news agencies, skillfully balances history with nuanced reportage.

King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, by Adam Hochschild  * favorite
King Leopold of Belgium did not much care for his native land or his subjects.  He searched the globe to find a colony for Belgium.  He eventually found what would become the Belgian Congo, Leopold set about establishing a rule of terror that would culminate in the deaths of 4 to 8 million indigenous people.

The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa, by Rene Lemarchand
This book provides a thorough exploration of the contemporary crises in the region.  By focusing on the historical and social forces behind the cycles of bloodshed in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo-Kinshasa, it challenges much of the conventional wisdom about the roots of civil strife in former Belgian Africa.

Recommended Films:

Lumo – One Young Woman’s Struggle to Heal in a Nation Beset By War
Recently engaged to a young man from her village, 20 year-old Lumo Sinai crossed paths with marauding soldiers who brutally attacked her.  Rejected by her fiancé and cast aside by her family, Lumo found her way to the one place that may save her: a hospital for rape survivors set on the border with Rwanda.

Lumumba *favorite
The true story of the rise to power and brutal assassination of the formerly vilified and later redeemed leader of the independent Congo, Patrice Lumumba.  Using newly discovered historical evidence,  Raoul Peck renders an emotional and tautly woven account of the mail clerk and beer salesman with a flair for oratory and an uncompromising belief in the capacity of his homeland.

Pushing the Elephant
In the late 1990s, Rose Mapendo lost her family and home to the violence that engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo.  She emerged advocating forgiveness and reconciliation.  Now, Rose is confronted with teaching one of her most recalcitrant students how to forgive—the daughter who remained behind.

The Greatest Silence *favorite
In 2006, Emmy Award winning producer/director Lisa F. Jackson spent the year in the war zones of eastern DRC.  She documented the tragic situation women and girls are forced to deal with as they stand in the middle of a country’s conflict they did not create, and cannot control.

The Reporter *favorite
Congo is a country in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.  To date, 5.4 million people have been killed in Congo over the last decade. The core reason—instability.  This is Kristof’s charge—to put Congo on the international agenda.

Background on mass atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo:  Civilians in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo remain victims of mass killings, severe torture and widespread rape at the hands of numerous armed groups operating in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Orientale.  Conflict in the DR Congo has resulted in an estimated 5.4 million civilian deaths since 1996.  In the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, civilians are targeted by the rebel Forces Democratique de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR). During its attacks, the FDLR burns villages and killed innocent residents. Human Rights Watch estimates that these attacks have killed more than 1,000 civilians since January 2009 . The Congolese Army, known as the FARDC predates on civilians throughout the country, engaging in looting and gender based violence against civilians that it should be protecting. In the Haut-Uele and Bas-Uele regions of Orientale province, more than 1,400 civilians have been killed in massacres and attacks committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony since Christmas of 2008, when the LRA established itself as one of the largest threats to civilians in the DR Congo. While the DR Congo features the world’s second-largest peacekeeping force, MONUSCO, the presence of these peacekeepers have yet to bring peace to an area that has been embroiled in conflict since 1996.

– From GI-Net / Save Darfur Coalition (link)

Compiled by Paulina Robles and Barbara English of Orange County for Darfur and Martina Knee of the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition.

Today, remembering the crisis in Burma

Hi everyone,

A group of monks sit in protest after being halted by riot officers and military officials in Myanmar (September 2007)

Click here to see our list of recommended books and films about the crisis in Burma.

If a regime is oppressive enough, and highly strategic about how it goes about its plan for information black-out, the global community can be kept largely in the dark about what is really happening to the people of that country.

This has been Burma’s story for decades.  Yet, the human spirit remains determined, creative and ultimately triumphant as it seeks to shed light into the darkness. Having said that, one of those rare glimpses allowing us to learn more about Burma comes in the form of the documentary, “Burma Soldier” (trailer), airing this week on HBO (May 18 – June 14).  We hope you will watch.
Over the past decades, the Burmese government has been the primary driver of violence against civilians in Burma due to its continued counter-insurgency campaign against ethnic minority rebels, particularly its ‘four-cuts strategy,’ an attempt to cut off food, funds, intelligence and recruits from the rebels.  The government’s goal appears to be to hold power at all costs. One feature of this campaign to suppress ethnic rebel groups is primarily active in eastern Burma, along the Thai-Burma border, where the government uses forced labor to build bases from which they attack and burn surrounding villages as well as mining the razed areas to discourage returns. Areas outside of government’s control are designated as ‘black zones,’ where soldiers are able to shoot any person on sight. Government troops are also known to use rape against ethnic minority women as part of a campaign of “Burmanization” through forced pregnancy.  The government’s attempts to suppress all dissent within its territory have also resulted in attacks in Shan State along the Chinese border and among the Rohingya region bordering Bangladesh. Since 1988, the ruling Burmese junta has also taken a hard line against pro-democracy protestors, imprisoning more than 2,200 activists, including Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
– From GI-Net / Save Darfur Coalition (link)
In the month of April, we featured resource lists with good books and films about each genocide that has a commemorative date in April. Now that it is May, we have added to these lists to include the areas we focus on.  With news hard to come by, we hope this Resource List on mass atrocities in Burma will make it easier to find out more about this country of under-reported, long-term mass suffering.
Barbara & Anshul
Orange County for Darfur, a project of Living Ubuntu
ocfordarfur.org
| blog | facebook

Good books and films about mass atrocities in Burma

A group of monks sit in protest after being halted by riot officers and military officials in Myanmar (September 2007)

A group of monks sit in protest after being halted by riot officers and military officials in Myanmar (September 2007)

April was Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. In honor of this, we compiled a Resource List of books and films themed around each of the past genocides that have commemorative dates in April, plus the regions where we focus our awareness and advocacy efforts on an ongoing basis.

We hope you will make use of this list as a way to both remember these genocides, and learn more about them.  In April we featured books and films associated with the genocides that have commemorative dates in April.  In May, the regions of our present day efforts are the focus.  This is the seventh post in this series, the mass atrocities in Burma.

Recommended Books:

Burmese Days, by George Orwell
In 1930, Kyauktada, Upper Burma, is one of the least auspicious postings in the ailing British Empire–and then the order comes that the European Club, previously for whites only, must elect one token native member.  This edict brings out the worst in this woefully enclosed society, not to mention among the natives who would become the One.

Everything is Broken, by Emma Larkin
The book is an account of the events in Burma before and after Cyclone Nygris.  She reveals details about the complex military dictatorship that rules Burma, and the bizarre, horrifying ways the regime responded to the cyclone and its effects on their country and its people.

Finding George Orwell in Burma, by Emma Larkin
Larkin (a pseudonym), a journalist believes that it was George Orwell’s stint as an imperial policeman in British-ruled Burma during the 1920s that turned him into a writer of conscience.  To prove her theory and assess what imprint if any he left on the culture, she bravely journeyed throughout the now brutally totalitarian state to visit the places Orwell lived and worked.

For Us to Surrender is Out of the Question: A Story from Burma’s Never Ending War, by Mac McClelland
In 2006, Mac McClelland arrived as a volunteer in Thailand and found herself living with associates of an organization battling Burma’s dictatorship.  Her story explores the world’s longest-running war through her housemates, refugees who risk their lives documenting their government’s secret ethnic-cleansing campaign.

Freedom from Fear, by Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for courageous leadership of the Burmese people in their battle against authoritarian rule.  The forthright condemnation of the regime that resulted in the activist’s house arrest is clearly expressed in the essays in this volume.

From the Land of Green Ghost, by Pascal Khoo Thwe
Khoo Thwe, born in 1967, debuts with a remarkable portrait of his childhood in Phekhon, “the only Catholic town in Burma,” among the Padaung people.  The Catholic and animist fables     that the author and his 10 siblings live by would be the emblems of a fairy tale life were it not for the violence and economic crises of the dictatorship of General U Ne Win.

Letters from Burma, by Aung San Suu Kyi
Human-rights activist and leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi     was sentenced to six years’ house arrest in Rangoon in 1989 by the ruling military.  She paints     a vivid, poignant yet optimistic picture of her native land in this collection of writings from     her imprisonment.

Nowhere to Be Home: Narratives From Survivors of Burma’s Military Regime, by Maggie Lemere and Zoe West (Editors) *favorite
Nowhere to Be Home is an eye-opening collection of oral histories exposing the realities of         life under military rule.  In their own words, men and women from Burma describe their lives     in the country that Human Rights Watch has called “the textbook example of a police state.”

The Glass Castle, by Amitav Ghosh
Set primarily in Burma, Malaya, and India, this work spans from 1885, when the British sent the King of Burma into exile, to the present.  While it does offer brief glimpses into the history of the region, it is more the tale of a family and how historical events influenced real lives.

The River of Lost Footsteps, by Thant Myint-U
With an eye to what the past might say about Burma’s present status as a country in crisis, Thant Myint-U examines the legacy of imperialism, war and invasion.

The Voice of Hope, by Aung San Suu Kyi
In The Voice of Hope, Aung San Suu Kyi emerges as a human being–a mother of two sons as well as an inspirational human rights advocate and all-around moral compass.

Undaunted, by Zoya Phan and Damien Lewis
This is the story of Zoya, a young member of the Karen tribe in Burma.  She grew up in the jungle and was violently displaced by the military junta that has controlled the country for almost 50 years.  This cadre also hunted Zoya and her family across borders and continents.  Undaunted  tells of her adventures, from her childhood, to her years on the run, and to her emergence as an activist.

Recommended Films:

Burma – No Childhood At All
This documentary is about children who have become victims or participants in Burma’s armed conflicts, used as porters, human shields, or human minesweepers.  It shows the life of children who have been killed, forcibly conscripted, unwillingly separated from their families, kidnapped and tortured, and it includes interviews with child soldiers.

Burma Soldier
Burma Soldier tells the powerful story of a Burmese soldier who swapped sides to join Aung San Suu Kyi’s struggle for a democratic Burma.

Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country
Risking torture and life in jail, courageous young citizens of Burma live the essence of journalism as they insist on keeping up the flow of news from their closed country.  Armed with small handycams the Burma VJs stop at nothing to make their reportages from the streets of Rangoon.

Burmese Dreaming
A girl has a nightmare about the killing of her father by soldiers in a mountain village in Burma.  She wakes up.  She is in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border.  She has been here for six years but still this is not where her mind lives. Instead it drifts between the realities of refugee life and dreams and day-dreams about Burma and a life she used to live.  Burmese Dreaming is a creative non-fiction based upon stories from the life of a refugee.

Crossing Midnight
One million on the run in the jungles of Eastern Burma. One visionary community fighting to save their own.  The award winning documentary, Crossing Midnight, is set on the border of Thailand and Eastern Burma. Crossing Midnight tells the story of a remarkable community of refugees from Burma working against … incredible odds to help their own.

Inside Burma – Land Of Fear
Isolated for the past 40 years, since a brutal military dictatorship seized power in Rangoon, this rich country has been relegated to one of the world’s poorest, the assault on its people all but forgotten by the rest of the world.  Award-winning filmmakers John Pilger and David Munro go undercover to expose how the former British colony is ruled by a harsh, bloody and uncompromising military regime.

Into The Current
Into The Current tells the story of Burma’s unsung heroes – its prisoners of conscience – and the price they pay for speaking truth to power in a military dictatorship.

Living on the Line
Living on the Line is a short documentary about the brutal genocide that has been going on in Burma for over 20 years.

Moving to Mars
Moving to Mars follows two refugee families from Burma over the course of a year that will change their lives completely.  Forced from their homeland by the repressive military junta, they have lived in a Thai refugee camp for many years.  A resettlement scheme offers them the chance of a new life, but their new home, in the British city of Sheffield, will be different to everything they have ever known.

The Lady
The film charts Aung San Suu Kyi’s remarkable journey from housewife bringing up her children in Oxford to taking on the power of Burma’s generals by becoming opposition leader.  It is set between 1988 – when Aung San Suu Kyi left Oxford to visit her sick mother and ended up staying – and 1999, the year Aris died after being diagnosed with cancer.  Aris had been forbidden from entering Burma, a decision that left Aung San Suu Kyi with the almost impossible decision of whether to stay or go.

The Road
In the summer of 2006, four friends from San Diego, California set out on a mission to expose the atrocities being done to the people of Burma, more specifically, the Karen people – one of the country’s largest ethnic groups.  With backpacks filled with borrowed film equipment they set out without a clue of how they would break inside a countryside filled with landmines, Burmese soldiers, and wet season torrential weather.  They didn’t know what they would find, or if anyone would listen to their story when they returned.

Trading Women
Trading Women investigates the trade in minority girls and women from the hill tribes of Burma, Laos and China, into the Thai sex industry.  Filmed in Southeast Asia, this is the first film to follow the trade in women in all its complexity and to consider the impact of this ‘far away’ problem on the gobal community.  Narrated by Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie, the documentary enters the worlds of brothel owners, trafficked girls, voluntary sex workers, corrupt police and anxious politicians, and examines the international response to the issue.

Background on mass atrocities in Burma: Over the past decades, the Burmese government has been the primary driver of violence against civilians in Burma due to its continued counter-insurgency campaign against ethnic minority rebels, particularly its ‘four-cuts strategy,’ an attempt to cut off food, funds, intelligence and recruits from the rebels.

The government’s goal appears to be to hold power at all costs. One feature of this campaign to suppress ethnic rebel groups is primarily active in eastern Burma, along the Thai-Burma border, where the government uses forced labor to build bases from which they attack and burn surrounding villages as well as mining the razed areas to discourage returns. Areas outside of government’s control are designated as ‘black zones,’ where soldiers are able to shoot any person on sight. Government troops are also known to use rape against ethnic minority women as part of a campaign of “Burmanization” through forced pregnancy.

The government’s attempts to suppress all dissent within its territory have also resulted in attacks in Shan State along the Chinese border and among the Rohingya region bordering Bangladesh. Since 1988, the ruling Burmese junta has also taken a hard line against pro-democracy protestors, imprisoning more than 2,200 activists, including Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

– From GI-Net / Save Darfur Coalition (link)

Compiled by Paulina Robles and Barbara English of Orange County for Darfur and Martina Knee of the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition.