BURMA’S POLITICAL PRISONERS CAMPAIGN LAUNCH “Freedom In Your Hands”

“Freedom is in your hands – Use it for Burma’s political prisoners”

Take action NOW at the Amnesty UK website to demand their immediate release.

Finally, after many months hard work behind the scenes with Amnesty International as well as two years hard work on the road, today this project is officially becoming part of a major campaign action by Amnesty International to demand the immediate and unconditional release of all Burma’s political prisoners. This is a campaign action that YOU can be part of. TAKE ACTION, stand with Burma’s former political prisoners and demand the release of ALL of their colleagues who remain in jail today.

This campaign film is being used to launch the start of this major campaign by Amnesty International UK and we need you to play your part in placing insurmountable pressure on world leaders and the UN to bring about the release of Burma’s political prisoners. The campaign is being lead by the former political prisoners themselves but WE NEED YOU to stand with them. With this campaign we aim to collect thousands of portraits from people all over the world and put pressure on world leaders at the EU-Asia summit in October just days before the elections will be held in Burma.

Please visit the Amnesty UK website for full details.

It has taken almost two years of hard work by many people to get to this stage, but there is much, much more to do. This is just the start. This film requires some special thanks to the following people (in no particular order) for their hard work:
Everyone at AAPP and DVB and others who’s names I cannot mention; Jackie San (for filming everything); Verity & Laura at Amnesty UK; Paul & Tim at Handcrafted Films; but most importantly of all, I would like to thank the former political prisoners themselves who have taken part and those who I am yet to meet. Without you there is nothing, but with you there is everything. I will not stop until your colleagues are free.

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UK Politicians Stand in Unity for Burma’s Political Prisoners

With the British parliament about to go into it’s summer recess we managed to grab one last opportunity to hold an event in the House of Commons to bring the UK’s politicians attention to Burma’s political prisoners. Foreign Minister Jeremy Browne MP and Anne Clywd MP both spoke but as usual it was Waihnin Pwint Thon who stole the show with another enigmatic, powerful and emotional speech reinforcing not only what needs to be done by the politicians around us in the room but also the horrendous suffering of more than 2,100 political prisoners currently detained.

A number of leading UK politicians from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords joined in the campaign:

Anne Clywd MP

Lord Hylton

Madeleine Moon MP

Baroness D’Souza

Cathy Jamieson MP

Lord Dubs

Baroness Miller

Emma Reynolds MP

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Campaigning at Lovebox Festival in London

Last weekend Burma’s Political Prisoners made their first major appearance on the UK festival scene at both Lovebox and Latitude Festival courtesy of the Amnesty UK teams who were out in force. The campaign is launched in full in two weeks time so further details to follow very soon.

Amnesty will be taking the campaign to many more festivals over the summer in the UK culminating in the Edinburgh Festival where there will be a special evening dedicated to Zarganar and Burma’s Political Prisoners at the annual ‘Stand Up For Freedom‘ comedy event. This campaign will be exhibited once again and we will be in attendance with some of the team including Waihnin (daughter of 88 Generation Student leader Mya Aye) and artist and former political prisoner Htein Lin.

Lovebox Festival, London UK

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EXCLUSIVE: David Miliband MP Stands in Solidarity with Burma’s Political Prisoners

British Shadow Foreign Secretary David Miliband MP has taken up the challenge from the Government (see Jeremy Browne’s portrait – ed) and continued his stance demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Burma’s political prisoners.

Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Miliband MP

Not only is he Shadow Foreign Secretary but also he is very likely to be the next leader of the labour party (and next prime minister sooner rather than later!). This time I got slightly longer than the 30 seconds I had with Jeremy Browne and so the shoot was great and he was very interested in the whole campaign. Thankfully he agreed to stand in the corridor outside his office and we got a great shot I think you’ll agree.

The importance of these photographs of these top politicians in the UK can’t be underestimated. This is not just another verbal statement that disappears off record no sooner than it is made. These portraits are more than just the usual statements of concern that are so routinely issued in time of need. These portraits go one step further – an unprecedented step further, whereby they are physically joining a campaign, standing alongside the very people who themselves have suffered at the hands of this brutal military regime.

Standing together we can and we will bring about change. Now it’s your turn to stand with us – visit Amnesty UK for all the details.

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EXCLUSIVE: British Foreign Minister Stands Up For Burma’s Political Prisoners

The gauntlet has been well and truely thrown down by the British Government – Foreign minister Jeremy Browne MP stands in solidarity with Burma’s former political prisoners demanding the unconditional release of all of Burma’s political prisoners.

British Foreign Minister, Jeremy Browne MP

He had previously had his photo taken whilst speaking at Amnesty HQ last week but I managed to arrange a 30 second photo shoot (and a slightly longer chat!) after the briefing given by British Ambassador to Burma, Andy Heyn. The room was about a s dark as cell in Insein but we did our best and even managed a bit of undercover filming from DVB without anyone knowing… no change there then!

So will fellow MPs from the opposition party follow on from the governments lead?… stay tuned to find out…

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Burma’s Political Prisoners – THE BIG ISSUE

Burma’s political prisoners are officially The Big Issue. A great UK magazine (for what it stands for) has published a four page article featuring 10 portraits from the campaign and also the chance for all to see some that haven’t been seen before (I’m always trying to vary them as much as possible, but so far picture editors seem to be consistent in their choices to publish out of the 170 available!).

Unfortunately the magazine isn’t available online but you can view and download the article here:

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British Foreign Minister Stands With Burma’s Political Prisoners

Today an exclusive coup as British Foreign Minister Jeremy Browne joined the campaign to free Burma’s political prisoners. Standing with Amnesty UK Director, Kate Allen, he wrote the name of Mie Mie on his hand and stood to show his solidarity with the former political prisoners who are leading this campaign. Mie Mie @ Thin Thin Aye, a member of the 88 Generation Students, is currently detained in Katha prison serving a 65 years sentence. Kate Allen had the name of 88 Generation Student Htay Kywe written on her hand. He is also currently serving a 65 year sentence in Buthidaung prison.

Click on the Foreign Office website to read more.

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The Independent Sunday Review

Good old Independent – more press for the campaign. This time a short piece in the Sunday supplement magazine “The Review” and a write up about the exhibition at Amnesty UK plus U Zawana’s portrait – he was jailed for more than 16 years in Insein and Tharawaddy prisons.

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Radio Free Asia Interview at The Amnesty Exhibition

Just before the exhibition launched on Monday evening Radio Free Asia (RFA) did an interview with me about political prisoners and Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, also joined us. Thanks to Ma Aye Hnin Nyo for the interview – it was broadcast back into Burma on 24th June.

You can listen to it below by clicking on the icon:

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The Exhibition – Burma’s Political Prisoners at Amnesty International UK

The exhibition being held at Amnesty International UK headquarters in London is up and running and Monday evening was the Private View. It was actually really well attended by many close friends and colleagues and thanks must go to Amnesty International UK for hosting the event and their involvement now in the political prisoner campaign and special thanks must go to Daw Nita Yin Yin May and Khun Saing who both spoke about the issue of political prisoners and shared some of their experiences. Below is a short video news piece that DVB are broadcasting on their TV channel – you can also watch it here on Livestation.

I’d like to take this opportunity to also thank AAPP and DVB for their ongoing support and involvement in this project from the start right up to where we are now, also the many contacts and colleagues around the world and in particular in Mae sot and in Umpiem and Nupo refugee camps, also my right hand man woman, the Secretary General Miss J San herself who has carried cameras, interviewed, translated and filmed the action and stood in as a model on over 150 shoots as well as been the support system to this entire project.

Last, but of course not least, I wish to thank the former political prisoners themselves. Your courage and dignity knows no bounds and it is the greatest privilege to know you all and more importantly to be able to work with you all to bring about the release of your colleagues currently detained in the darkest hell on earth. We will not rest until they are free.

In total there are 21 images being exhibited… and as you would expect in keeping with Burmese tradition numerology plays a significant role in the selection of this amount of images. On 20th July 1989, Aung San Suu Kyi was detained under house arrest for the first time – almost exactly 21 years ago to the day from this exhibition. So, therefore, we have 21 portraits on display, marking one for each year since Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was first placed under house arrest.

This is just the start… I hope the Generals are up for the fight.

Video reproduced here with kind permission of Democratic Voice of Burma – © Copyright and not to be reproduced without permission

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