The Making of Abhaya: Burma’s Fearlessness
James Mackay is a documentary photographer based in South East Asia and the UK; Burma has been in his focus for many years. His camera has captured images of political tension and human rights abuse inside the country, a dangerous task in a country where a camera can be as dangerous as a gun to the government. He has also followed the Burmese Diaspora around the world.
Mackay has collaborated with Democratic Voice of Burma and the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) and is undertaking long term documentary projects with and about Burma’s political prisoners, human rights defenders and democracy activists.
In November 2011 his long term project documenting Burma’s political prisoners will be published as the book Abhaya: Burma’s Fearlessness, featuring a foreword by Aung San Suu Kyi. The work has also been selected to be shown as part of the Open Society Institute’s Moving Walls Exhibition in New York and Washington DC throughout 2012.
Mackay traveled across the world including to South East Asia, Australia, Japan, Europe, USA, Canada as well as into Burma itself, to photograph hundreds of Burma’s former political prisoners who came together to raise awareness of their colleagues still detained in jail and to campaign for their unconditional release. The work has previously been recognized with two awards in 2009 and is now part of a major campaign for Burma in 2010 by Amnesty International UK.
The documentary film above, made by Than Win Htut (Democratic Voice of Burma’s sub-Editor), follows James Mackay during the making of the Abhaya project, a collection of photographs featuring former Burmese political prisoners with the name of a current political prisoner written on their palm.