Friday, October 05, 2007
Bearing witness
Filming what's happening inside Myanmar is a dangerous business. If you get caught with a video camera, or even a tape, you would likely be beaten, jailed, or even killed.

There's a group here in New York called Witness that trains human rights workers to use small video cameras to document abuses, and they've been working with an organization called Burma Issues.

What the Burma Issues photographers captured, all of them refugees from Myanmar who returned with cameras, is shocking: streams of ethnic Karen refugees, a long-oppressed minority group, slogging down jungle trails to Thailand, trying to escape the Myanmar army, which has been killing them and destroying their villages for a years.

That video is now available online at www.witness.org, and worth watching if you care about what is happening inside that country. The people who shot it risked their lives for these images of destroyed villages, starving refugees, and forced labor.

Couple that with the firsthand accounts CNN's Matthew Chance got from a group of refugee Buddhist monks on the Thai-Myanmar border who escaped the latest crackdown, and you start to understand just how brutal the military regime is.

-- By Steve Turnham, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 4:29 PM ET
  14 Comments
I watched the video and I found it very compelling. It is so sad to see people treated that way like they don't matter!

I am glad that people are still willing to risk their lives to get these stories out so we can witness through these videos the horendous things that are occuring! They have my utmost gratitude! I hope they continue their great work.

I hope that by these videos being shown around the world that it puts enough pressure on the Junta to back off. If not I hope it puts enough pressure on the world to get involved and stop these atrocities!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 4:51 PM ET
God bless the Buddhist monks who led the march, for without them, we would never know of the atrocities that have been happening in Burma. Can we even get aid to that country? I understand it's all closed off. What can we do to help now and to ensure the safety of refugees? I hope Thailand and other neighboring countries would welcome them. What is the U.N. doing about this? What is taking them so long to act?
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, Washington : 5:08 PM ET
God Bless Them. It sounds like a pretty desperate situation.
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 5:47 PM ET
Pretty unbelievable...you'd think the American government would learn from history that playing the diplomatic game with dictator monsters equates with death to innocents. Hopefully enough pressure and information sharing from entities like the media will bring about change for these people before it is too late.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 6:26 PM ET
Hey Steve,

It is crucial that you guys stay on the story so that this time,freedom and basic dignity can come to them.
They are brave people and the ones taking risks to get the images out are doing an incredible thing.
The international population needs to stand up and keep talking and pressing(peacefully)until the international pressure is too much. Especially on China,voicing so midly their concerns but not taking actions.
I have a page on another site,where I wrote an article on my blog about this issue. I was surprised from all the reactions(good)and how many people told me that they didn't know about that issue!I also put a link to a petition on it,which people signed.
On that site, we are severals that have been posting bulletins,day in,day out,about this issue,with images also and facts.
As I told a friend that was saying to me that he hoped his little signature would make a difference: "A signature has weight,many signatures have a VOICE".
Here are some links and some petitions for Burma. You can search the web and found many also. They need our voices,we,as an international community,have the power to say enough!!!I am a citizen of this world before being a citizen of a country. We all deserve freedom of speech,movement,ideas,decent,basic rights.
http://www.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_burma/tf.php?cl_tf_sign=1

An Appeal to the UN Security Council to protect the people of Burma(petition to member Nations of the United Nations Security Council)

Amnesty International's petition to free Political Prisoners of Burma

http://www.PetitionOnline.com/BUR_2007/ (Call for Immediate Action Against Burmese Military Regime-petition to Members of United Nations, Members of the Wuropean Union, All political Leaders, All Head of States,and, all Dignitaries.

Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Joanne R. Laval Quebec : 7:44 PM ET
Very tough question. Would the medals then be awarded to the silver medalits in each category,and so on down to the 4th place finishers? What about her teamates in relay events? It seems clear that she dosn't deserve them, but a fair disposition of these honors should be established.
Posted By Anonymous : 8:04 PM ET
The video is quite compelling and the atrocities and brutality of the junta beyond horrific. Its unfortunate that there is not more we can do as a country to help these poor people; sanctions and world attention are a good start and I hope they work, but if they do not, what then?

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Annie Kate : 8:48 PM ET
Dear Steve,

I would like to thank 360 for continuing to bring us coverage of the horrible atrocities occurring in Burma. You are the only program that has continued to devote quality time to this report.

The human rights workers and others who have risked their lives to bring us videos of this tragedy are truly heroes. Without their courageous work we would not know what is really going on in Burma.

The UN and the rest of the world must do more than just condemn these atrocities, they need to stand up and take action so that these heroic individuals do not have to put their lives in danger.

My heart goes out to the Burmese people and the human rights workers during this terrible time.

Jo Ann
Posted By Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 9:40 PM ET
Where is the world community in all of this? The military regime should have a hammer come down on them from every country possible.
We owe an awful lot to the brave men and women who dare to film, march and speak up. As many people have said, the world can't let Myanmar slip off the nightly news or it will slip back to a deep, dark, secret. Out of sight, out of mind should not be an option anymore.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 10:25 PM ET
Why aren't the world political and religous leaders, global organizations, human rights groups, the un stopping the executions, murders.
Posted By m : 11:51 PM ET
The video is so important; it's one thing to hear about the atrocities, but to see it...people need to see it.
I know I don't have to ask you to keep a close eye on this story, so let's just hope others will follow suit and keep this in the public eye.
Posted By Stacey; Ottawa, Canada : 1:45 AM ET
Burma Issues is a grassroots non-profit organization registered with the Royal Thai Government under the umbrella of Peace Way Foundation.

To carry on our important work of documenting the human rights violations that occur everyday in Eastern Burma we need your support.

Please visit www.burmaissues.org to learn more about us and donate if you can. Any amount, large or small will make a difference.
Posted By Claudia Orrell : 6:46 AM ET
@ Lorie Ann:

Out of sight, out of mind should not be an option any more.

I totally agree with you! But when the "most trusted name in news" shows more OJ and Britney, where are people going to learn about human rights violations and injustices?

These celebrities just kill me with the antics and need for constant attention.
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 9:17 AM ET
The news coverage of what is happening in Myanmar is the most reprehensible flagrant form of hypocrisy and the most shameful I have seen in all my long years. Where was this worldwide outrage and begging assistance when China took over Tibet. Where children were forced to shoot their parents in the head, where monks and nuns were forced to have sex in the streets? Where was the outrage when thousands of monks, nuns, children and entire families were butchered in the street? Where were the pleading and UN people sent when an entire culture has all but been washed off the face of the earth? Why has the world stayed quiet for the past 50 years over the situation in Tibet? Simple, hiding in fear since the entire world lives in fear of China because of their political, military and trade power. I guess the people of Tibet for some reason do not rank as high as the people of Myanmar and while I do not agree what is happening, from my standpoint, the entire world should be hanging their heads in shame.
Posted By Mimi Davis : 11:27 AM ET
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