Abhaya Burma’s Fearlessness – Bangkok Exhibition

Last week saw the opening of the exhibition and also the official book launch, held at the beautiful Serindia Gallery in Bangkok in association with River Books and the Canadian Embassy. Unfortunately we could not be there as we are in New York for the opening of the OSI moving Walls 19 exhibition, but by all accounts it was a great evening and a successful one too, in that no fewer than 8 Ambassadors attended the event along with various other diplomats and movers and shakers. The idea of course is to drum home the issue that 1700 still remain in jail and must be freed if Burma is to truly move forward. With these kind of people attending the event and taking copies of the book then hopefully that message can continue to resonate in the halls of power and the risks that some have taken to be in this work do not go unheeded.

Here are a couple of reviews of the evening courtesy of The Irrawaddy team and RFA who filmed the two short pieces below and also a review in The Nation. Thanks to the Irrawaddy team, RFA, U Zin Linn and Soe Aung and of course to Shane and his staff at Serindia, Narisa and to Mr Ron Hoffman the Canadian Ambassador.

Signing in the New Arrivals

With no end in sight to the recent horrific flooding in Thailand, and in particular for me in Bangkok, the book seemed destined to be delayed by the deluge of water that seemed never ending. But somehow the first batch managed to make it out in between low and high tide and arrived just in time for me to despatch the first few copies before heading over another large expanse of water to the USA. Signing my first book was a novel experience and provided much entertainment, but was a great pleasure and honour to do so for a good friend and someone who works so hard for Prisoners of Conscience in Burma and around the world. The Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund provides grants for relief and rehabilitation to people who have been persecuted, imprisoned and tortured for their conscientiously-held beliefs. The assistance they provide is vital and the small team who work there lead by Lynn Carter work valiantly for political prisoners, human rights defenders, lawyers, environmental activists, teachers and academics who come from many different countries such as Burma, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Iran, Cameroon and Eritrea.

Signing my life away…

After a nice cup of afternoon tea (when in Rome as they say…) there was just about time to deliver the final copy to my friends at Bayeux in London’s Soho,who have provided so much help and support over the years and are mighty fine printers to boot. So a huge thanks must go to Terry, Rick, Julie, Iris and all the team – not just for printing the recent 5ft prints that are on their way to New York for the OSI Moving Walls exhibition opening on the 30th, but for featuring the work in the windows and on display inside the reception area – cheers guys for all the hard work and support over the years.

A Bayeux Tapestry to be proud of.

Even Rhianna can’t keep her eyes off it.

Hopefully not long now until books can start hitting the shelves and I see Amazon already have it on special offer so get your copies now for a few dollars less, although think I might have to have words with my co-author about this at the weekend. With imminent exhibitions and book launches in Bangkok and New York in a couple of weeks time, it might just be somewhere closer to home where the book actually gets its first public viewing… surely not Rangoon I hear you say… That would be ridiculous…

Wouldn’t it just.

Abhaya Preview as Advance Copies Arrive

At the weekend we managed to get our hands on an advance copy of the book and here are is a sneak preview of a few pages, including from inside Burma, to give you some idea of what’s inside… 224 pages, 244 portraits and background information, foreword by Aung San Suu Kyi, statements from AAPP and Human Rights Watch… and available for pre-order now on Amazon before it’s worldwide release in 3 weeks time. I think what I’m really looking forward to most is reaction and reviews – whether good or bad, it will just be good to finally see the work out there for all to make up their own mind.

Next stop London, New York and Bangkok, but will they all be released before the book? Here’s hoping so…

CNN Slideshow of ‘Abhaya – Burma’s Fearlessness’

CNN anchor, Kristie Lu Stout, presents a slideshow of ‘Abhaya – Burma’s Fearlessness’ on the primetime daily show, News Stream, on the day that 227 political prisoners were released from jail in Burma. Topping the headline news makes a welcome change for Burma and one we could relish as well with our work on display to millions across the world enjoying their breakfast in America, afternoon tea in the UK or evening noodles in Asia. The early morning call from Hong Kong lead to a crazy day dashing across London as slowly, one by one, political prisoners were being released. Being stuck in Europe on this of all days was not ideal considering the time difference and logistical difficulties trying to get updates using Skype and G-talk whilst constantly on the move, but luckily I managed to find a quiet room at Getty Images to do the voice over that took more attempts at trying to get a clear line than it does when trying to call into Burma. A moment in the spotlight for this work and Burma, despite the end result seeing fewer released than expected. Hopefully there is more to come as the countdown to the book being launched in Rangoon in mid-November draws ever closer.

A Centrefold Premiere In The Guardian

On the day the Burmese regime finally announce the long expected prisoner amnesty, the Guardian newspaper pull out all the stops and go big for a double page centre spread on the former political prisoners from this project that is now better known as the book ‘Abhaya – Burma’s Fearlessness’. There is also a beautiful online slideshow gallery that can be viewed on the Guardian website with a premiere showing of the Lady’s portrait and others from inside Burma including U Tin Oo and Dr Daw May Win Myint.

See the full size article here – Guardian Eyewitness: Abhaya Burma’s Fearlessness

Today is also the day that the book gets launched at the Frankfurt book-fair. It’s been a busy day all round but nothing has been achieved yet. Here’s hoping that later on today there will be good news and we can finally start celebrating the release of political prisoners… and everything else as well.

Burma’s Political Prisoners book: ‘Abhaya – Burma’s Fearlessness’ with foreword by Aung San Suu Kyi

After 3 long years of  hard work and over 100,000 miles travelled, finally the book of our long term project documenting Burma’s political prisoners will be published in November 2011 by River Books. Hopefully all political prisoners will also be released by then as well.

Featuring a foreword written by Aung San Suu Kyi and portraits of more than 250 former political prisoners in exile around the world (as well as over 50 from inside Burma, including leaders of the National League for Democracy), ‘Abhaya – Burma’s Fearlessness’ captures a moment in time in Burma’s history, dated October 2011, with more than 2,000 political prisoners incarcerated.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The Abhaya mudrā (“mudrā of fear-not”) represents protection, peace and the dispelling of fear.

In 1962 a military coup lead by General Ne Win saw Burma, an isolated Buddhist country in South-East Asia, come under the power of one of the world’s most brutal regimes. For the past five decades, thousands of people have been arrested, tortured and given long prison sentences for openly expressing their beliefs and for daring to defy dictators who tolerate no form of dissent or opposition to their rule.

Today, more than 2,000 political prisoners including monks, students, journalists, lawyers, elected Members of Parliament and over 300 members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party, The National League for Democracy, are incarcerated in Burma’s notorious prisons.

In Burma and across the world, almost 300 hundred former political prisoners have come together to raise awareness of the tragic plight of their colleagues still detained in jail. Photographed standing with their right hand raised, palm out-turned facing the camera, the name of a current political prisoner is shown written on their hand. The sacred Buddhist gesture of Abhaya, “Fear Not”, is not only an act of silent protest, but also one of remembrance and fearlessness.

“The people featured in this book have all had to learn to face their fears squarely during the decades they have passed in the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. Their commitment has been their courage. It is important that they and what they stand for should not be forgotten, that their sufferings as well as their aspirations should be remembered.”

“I hope that all who read this book will be encouraged to do everything they can to gain the freedom of political prisoners in Burma and to create a world where there are no political prisoners” Aung San Suu Kyi

View the project in its entirety at www.enigmaimages.net