Nyi Nyi Aung and Burma VJ :
I attended an event at Georgetown University where they screened Burma VJ. Burma VJ is the Oscar nominated documentary of the Saffron Revolution. The Saffron revolution occurred in 2007 on the streets of Rangoon, where Buddhist monks led an uprising on the streets of Rangoon marching for the people’s freedom and rights. The journalists took great risks to film the movie, and many of DVB’s (Democratic Voice of Burma) journalists remain in jail today.
At the end of the movie, the narrator of Burma VJ says I feel, “ na myaw dae”, which means, “I feel a big loss”. He felt that all efforts went to waste as the protests had stopped, and the junta’s brutal power was shown and enforced on the land once again.
The military held a crackdown against the uprisings. People were killed and were imprisoned as the junta cleansed the streets filled with protesters. Almost 2 decades after the 8-8-88 ( August 8, 1988) uprising, what was accomplished? Will this always be the case for Burma, when an uprising occurs? I had listened to what Burma’s VJ had said, and I feel that people all around the world, as we watched Burma VJ and relived the events of 2007, felt “ na myaw dae.”
( Nyi Nyi Aung and his fiancee; AP Photo)
Nyi Nyi Aung spoke at the event. Nyi Nyi has had many articles written on his release from Burma’s notorious Insein prison and had front page coverage on the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post are just two more publications that covered his story. Nyi Nyi, a U.S. citizen, went back to his native country, Burma, to visit his ailing mother in prison, in September of 2009. At the airport, he was wrongfully incarcerated, and was questioned about his visit and his political activities. Nyi Nyi was sentenced to jail under terrorism charges although there was no evidence to support the charges. He described the beatings, the days without food and the torture he received. He cannot walk or stand properly, and he needs to take a shot every 4 hours for the pain. Nyi Nyi was unexpectedly released on March 18th.
I asked Nyi Nyi Aung, how he felt after watching the movie. Did he feel “ na myaw dae” as well?
Nyi Nyi actually felt that there were great things accomplished from the protests of 2007. Nyi Nyi says that the 1988 generation of students had transpired their power and inspiration to the new generation who had helped with the uprising of 2007. He continues to tell people to stay active, to be aware and to be informed on Burma. He says his wish is for the U.S. to take a more active role in Burma- U.S. relations. He says, “We need to make Burma a priority of the U.S.” He encouraged the students at Georgetown University to write letters to the Obama administration, to write for the release of 2,200 political prisoners of Burma. Nyi Nyi’s five family members are imprisoned to this day. He tells us that the last he has heard about his family is that his mom is losing her eye sight while she is imprisoned in her homeland.