From the Freedom of Norway, a Voice for Burma

It feels so painful to see my country so left behind from other nations,” said 44-year-old Burmese activist Khin Maung Win, expressing his frustration about the conditions in his homeland during the sixth meeting of the World Movement for Democracy forum this month in Jakarta.

Having fled Burma more than 20 years ago, Maung Win is now the deputy executive director of a Norway-based nonprofit media organization called the Democratic Voice of Burma, whose missions is to “provide accurate and unbiased news to the people of Burma,” as written on the organization’s Web site.

The organization’s struggle has been crystallized into a documentary film: “Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country” by director Anders Ostergaard.

Praised as an inspiring story by film critics and winning more than 40 international movie awards worldwide, it received its ultimate recognition when it was nominated for best documentary category at the 2010 Academy Awards.

Maung Win said the documentary succeeded in its goal of finally bringing the issue of Burma into the international spotlight again. “People started to give more attention to the unjust conditions that people in Burma have to face every single day,” he said.

The documentary is compiled from footage shot by video journalists working inside the nation for the Democratic Voice of Burma. Under the threat of the military regime, Burmese journalists, using cheap handheld and mobile-phone video recorders, reported on the Buddhist-monk-led demonstrations of September 2007, known as the Saffron Revolution.

But before the raw footage could be edited into a film, their material had to be smuggled out of the country and broadcast back into Burma and out to the rest of the world by the Democratic Voice of Burma.

“The Burmese VJs risked their lives so that people can see how cruel the military regime in Burma really is,” Maung Win said.
As a person who believes in the spirit of freedom, Maung Win said Burma should recognize how Indonesia is implementing its democracy at the moment, and take note.

“It’s true that Indonesia is still having many problems, such as poverty, but with democracy, people have hope things will be better in the future.”

He added that although Indonesia may not be the most prosperous nation in the region at the moment, because of democracy it is the most politically stable country in Southeast Asia, and that’s a good foundation for the future.

“Burma has to be like Indonesia one day,” he said.

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