Over the past month, Worldwide Impact Now has provided media skills training for members of 3 Karen communities working from the border, deep in the war zone and in central Burma. Covering basic journalism, camera work, video editing and advocacy strategy, these trainings have taken the skills of already experienced video documenters to new heights.
At this time, the education of their people through media is critical due to the upcoming sham national elections that will threaten to solidify the current dictator’s grip on power for another generation, and the inevitable military offensive directed at the Karen people that comes with every dry season. We are now providing technical support and guidance on a number of Karen-led projects to do just this, distributing DVDs and MP4s to communities that have been denied access to independent media for their entire lives.
Every year, when the rain stops, the attacks begin. The Burma Army move into areas where the Karen National Union (KNU) are present and systematically devastate entire communities in a matter of days. Villages will be shelled with mortars from a distance before being entered and burnt to the ground, leaving little behind but burning embers and anti-personnel landmines. Following such attacks, hundreds, if not thousands, of villagers will be forced to leave their homes and hide in the jungle to avoid being arrested, beaten or killed, as they are every year.
WIN has worked with people in these zones to develop specific shooting plans to document this entire process from the outbreak of conflict through to the documentation of life in hiding. We are also empowering numerous community groups with the knowledge of international human rights mechanisms to collect incident details for the United Nations.
Working with these people on these training courses has been an inspiration for all those on the ground working for WIN. The determination among these young people to resists the temptation to seek asylum in refugee camps or resettle to the west and stay working to help their communities is remarkable and keeps us motivated everyday.