Friday, August 8, 2008


It's a good night to rent a movie from 1995 called Beyond Rangoon, starring Patricia Arquette and Frances McDormand. The film recounts the events of the August 8, 1988 uprising in Rangoon, Burma that eventually led to the oppressive government abuses the country continues to experience today.

At this time, the UNHCR is in the process of resettling 100,000 Burmese refugees who have been living in camps on the Thai border for 20 years. It has become painfully evident that they will never be able to return to Burma, and so they are now on their way to the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Sweden, among other locations.

The 8888 Uprising saw the beginnings of the pro-democracy movement in Burma, a movement that resulted in death or imprisonment for thousands of upon thousands of people who stood up for their beliefs. It was from this event that Nobel Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi became an international icon representing people who struggle for human rights around the globe.

Take a moment and feel blessed that you have known democracy.

(To learn more about this film, including the ending, click here.)


Sophie in the Moonlight said...

I taught ESL for a little while many years ago, and I had the honor of working with a group of a dozen women who had escaped Burma after 8888. I was a member of a team, a psychologist, a body worker, and me, and our job was to help the women feel at ease in their own skin, in their hard-earned freedom and the sacrifices made to earn it, and to make them comfortable in their new country. I have never been so struck by the amazing power of women's strength. A part of my soul was remade in their image, and I am forever grateful.

You are a neat woman, May, for honoring this day and reminding others of the Burmese situation.

Blessings to you.

May Voirrey said...

I am involved with a lot of the arriving Burmese right now, most of whom are Karen. I don't know if you saw my post a few weeks back about one of those refugees. He is the person who sat with me today to talk about his experience on 8888 and, on behalf of the Burmese community, invited me to an observance ceremony. It's not really for Americans, so I was surprised by the invitation. Mostly, though, I was honored.

I have frequently said that I am awed by the Burmese and their ability to find a peaceful place inside themselves--even after so much loss.

I work within a network that provides many types of resettlement support for refugees. The work kicks my ass physically and emotionally, but I really believe this is what I am supposed to be doing.

There's a post about this coming soon.