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Cinema for Peace Burma Project

Cinema for Peace Foundation has been actively supporting the campaign for democracy in Burma for three years through several different supported projects and films. Cinema for Peace Foundation is proud to have honoured films such as “The Lady” by Luc Besson, and Anne Gyrithe Bonne’s "Lady of No Fear", as well as Burma VJ – Reporting from a Closed Country. We have also provided funding and support for the film ‘Zarganar, The Prison Where We Live’.

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Aung San Suu Kyi

On the occasion of the 10th Cinema for Peace Gala in 2011, at the presentation of the International Human Rights Film Award for the film, "Lady of No Fear", Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi  sent us a video message asking us to help the many political prisoners in Burma get heard. Following Aung San Suu Kyi’s request, Cinema for Peace started a petition to call for the release of Zarganar. More than 12000 people have signed the petition. Watch here...

PROJECT DEVELOPMENTS

Aung San Suu Kyi Elected to Parliament

On 1 April 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party, the National League for Democracy, announced that she was elected to the Pyithu Hluttaw, the lower house of the Burmese parliament, representing the constituency of Kawhmu; her party also won 43 of the 45 vacant seats in the lower house. The election results were confirmed by the official electoral commission the following day.

Aung San Suu Kyi  is now on an European tour that will include her formal acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to her over 20 years ago.

Suu Kyi  set out from Rangoon June 13th for her first trip to Europe in 24 years.  She went to Norway to deliver a long-awaited acceptance speech for the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, which she was unable to accept in person because of her detention. Suu Kyi then stopped in Ireland to receive an Amnesty International human rights award from rock star Bono, and continued to Britain where she was invited to address both houses of parliament.

The trip comes as Burma's new nominally civilian government has begun making democratic reforms after decades of military rule. The recently elected General Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, has returned to her home country and taken her seat as a member of Burma's parliament and is set for US visit in September in her first trip there in more than 20 years.

PROJECT BACKGROUND

At the Cinema for Peace Gala 2009, the film Burma VJ – Reporting from a Closed Country, won the International Human Rights Film Award in cooperation with Amnesty International and the Human Rights Film Network. The prize was given to Aung Htun, The Democratic Voice of Burma, Anders Østergaard, and Lise Lense-Møller for depicting the ongoing fight for freedom in Burma.

In 2010 Cinema for Peace secured the funding for the documentary film “This Prison Where I Live” by Rex Bloomstein and comedian Michael Mittermeier who were introduced to each other by Cinema for Peace after the original funding in the UK had collapsed. The documentary follows Rex Bloomstein visiting and interviewing Burmese comedian and dissident Thura, known by his stage name Zarganar in 2007 before his imprisonment and depicts the growing oppressive atmosphere under the Burmese military junta. Two years later, Bloomstein and Michael Mittermeier travelled secretly to Burma to make a film about this courageous man, who describes himself as the "loudspeaker“for the Burmese people, and to investigate humour under dictatorship.

Zarganar was arrested in 2008 and sentenced to 59 years in prison for criticizing the military government’s slow response to Cyclone Nargis. The deadly storm left 138,000 people dead or missing and hundreds of thousands homeless when it struck the Irrawaddy delta. Despite the emergency, authorities delayed acceptance of international help, which critics say added to the death toll.

At the 10th Cinema for Peace Gala in 2011, Anne Gyrithe Bonne’s "Lady of No Fear", a movie about Aung San Suu Kyi won the International Human Rights Film Award in 2011. On the occasion of the Gala, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi also sent us a video message asking us to help the many political prisoners in Burma get heard. Following Aung San Suu Kyi’s request, Cinema for Peace started a petition to call for the release of Zarganar. More than 12000 people have signed the petition and thus contributed to raising awareness on his case and on the injustice in Burma.

In her video message, Aung San Suu Kyi stresses the influence of the cinema to change the situation of artists in Burma:

“We depend on artists, actors, producers, directors, people who are connected with the cinema to reach out to all the people to whom we are not in the position to reach out by making the world not only a bigger place but at the same time a closer community. You will be able to help all those of us who have been deprived of their basic human rights.”

More recently, Burma has released nearly 200 political prisoners as part of a general amnesty, including a few prominent activists. Human Rights groups have welcomed their release but are urging that all political prisoners be set free. They are also stressing the real test of the government‘s claims to reform will be in how they are treated after their release. Authorities in Burma began releasing prisoners Wednesday morning, October 12 2011 as part of an amnesty for over 6,000 inmates. Zarganar was among those set free.

Though Zarganar was finally released, there are still many political dissidents in prison. Please support them by signing a petition.

Change Through Film

Burma Monk with Megaphone

BURMA

A selection of films that highlight the issues and help to inspire us about the people and events of the Burmese fight for democracy. Watch here...

"This Prison Where I Live"

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"The Lady" Cinema for Peace Gala 2012

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