• Burmese music hip hop on trial
    Burmese Music: Hip Hop on Trial

    In February, Burmese musician and activist Zayar Thaw turned 29 behind the walls of Kawthaung Prison in southern Burma. He was two years into a six-year sentence for “dealings in foreign currency and membership in an illegal organization.” The illegal organization is Generation Wave, a group focused on promoting democracy and civil rights to Burma’s youth through music, poetry, and graffiti.

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  • The Plight of Children in Burma
    The Plight of Children in Burma

    Burma’s children are in danger. Across the country, the government has forced its people to move to new areas as they confiscate land, inciting ethnic violence, and squash opposition. These relocations threaten the health, security, education, and environment of Burmese children.

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  • A Classroom After Nargis
    Education in Burma

    While researching my article on the Burmese refugee community in Pittsburgh, I heard time and again that the refugees struggle with adapting to the American education system. They are used to a pedagogy based almost entirely on rote memorization. This is to ensure that the students won’t develop the kind of critical thinking skills that would enable to them to criticize the government or organize opposition. The government also strictly controls what information is available to students, leading to a skewed perspective on history and politics.

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  • A Flawed Election Day
    A Flawed Election Day

    In 1990, a parliamentary government was fairly elected by the Burmese people with Aung San Suu Kyi at its head. Burma’s military junta ignored the election and placed Suu Kyi under house arrest. Since then, the military and its generals have ruled Burma with little regard for the freedoms its people deserve.

    This flawed election day will be the first held in Burma in the last 20 years, but under the nation’s constitution and electoral laws there seems to be little hope for change.

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  • Map of a Shooting Gallery Protestors of March 1988
    Map of a Shooting Gallery: Protestors of March 1988

    In explaining the horrors he experienced in Burma, words are not always enough for Than What. He witness the violence of the 8888 Uprising during which Burmese officials gunned down students who had gathered to protest the economic policies of the government. After witnessing the death of friends and classmates, Than What made fifty photocopies of a publication telling the history of the student protest movement and help distribute the unofficial newspaper. In 2002, he was forced to flee Burma because of his political involvement and currently lives in Pittsburgh.

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  • How to Help Imprisoned Burmese Journalist Zaw Thet Htwe
    How to Help Imprisoned Burmese Journalist Zaw Thet Htwe

    Zaw Thet Htwe is a Burmese sports journalist. In 2008, Htwe was working with Burmese comedian Maung Thura -also known as Zargana- to deliver aid and support to the victims of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma on May 2, 2008. While working as humanitarians for the Burmese people, Htwe and Zargana were placed under arrest by the Junta government.

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  • Aung San Suu Kyi
    Marking the 65th Birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi

    Here on Sampsonia Way, City of Asylum writer-in-residence Khet Mar and her family marked the 65th birthday of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi by drawing and painting portraits of her. Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest due to her political involvement in the National League for Democracy in Burma. Following the publication of this post, she was release from house arrest in November 2010.

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