Monday, September 21, 2009

GUEST POST: First-Hand Accounts of Revolution

The following is a guest post from S.E. Adkins, a North Side neighbor & consultant who draws on her diverse experiences and accumulated knowledge to help small businesses, non-profits, and individuals. Please join us and City of Asylum/Pittsburgh Wednesday evening for a screening of Burma VJ.

The film Burma VJ, by Anders Østergaard compiles smuggled footage from individuals using handicams on the streets of Myanmar to tell the larger story of the so-called Saffron Revolution. In Burma, called Myanmar by the ruling military junta, a disproportionate amount of national income is spent on the armed forces. Living in one of the 20 poorest countries in the world, ordinary Burmese citizens live on little income while the costs of basic commodities such as rice and eggs continue to rise. In February of 2007, small groups began peacefully protesting the state of consumer prices. The protesters, including the monks, were dealt with brutally. Arrests and killings became a hallmark of the military junta’s response to such protests. The video journalist (the VJ in Burma VJ) became revolutionary in their witness of these events. The videos would reach back into Burma by satellite, and were available for international media use. As foreign media is banned, this is even more crucial.

Burma VJ Screening at the MF -- 9/23

Burma continues to be a topic of wide global importance, underscored by the more recent news stories regarding the imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi and the government’s negligence of its people following Cyclone Nargis. The people have very little civil and personal freedoms. City of Asylum/Pittsburgh knows first-hand about this, with their mission being to provide sanctuary to writers exiled under threat of death, imprisonment, or persecution in their native countries. The current writer-in-residence is Khet Mar, herself from Burma. She is a journalist, novelist, short story writer, poet, and essayist. She and her husband, Than Htay, a visual artist, are working together to create a mural representative of their story and the intersections between Burma and Pittsburgh.

There will be a film screening of Burma VJ at the Mattress Factory on Wednesday September 23rd at 7:00 PM, followed by a reception and Q&A with a monk from the Saffron Revolution. The next day, Thursday September 24th, at 9:00 AM a press conference will be held at City of Asylum/Pittsburgh with writer-in-residence Khet Mar and Burmese monks. This is a unique chance to meet Burmese monks from the frontline of a revolution, and to learn more about City of Asylum/Pittsburg’s newest writer-in-residence, Khet Mar. I hope to see you at one of these special events!

Reservations are FREE, but must be made in advance by calling 412-321-2190.

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