In Burma/Myanmar, the military junta has ruled since 1962, brutally suppressing human rights and the flow of information. Yet in the fall of 2007, the military found itself challenged by Buddhist clergy and ordinary citizens who used nonviolent actions and 21st century technology to challenge the regime. Although the so-called Saffron Revolution failed to result in regime change, dedicated Burmese activists are continuing to risk their lives to work for change in their country. In a country of 58 million with less than 1% internet and cell phone penetration, how is technology being used to challenge a military regime?
Join us for an evening conversation on this topic, including:
-- A presentation by Digital Democracy on the use of technology inside and along Burma's borders.
-- Footage from the Sept. 2007 Saffron Revolution, where tech such as mobile phones and the internet allowed protesters to coordinate and publicize the largest protests seen in a generation,
-- A Q&A with "Stanley", a Burmese computer programmer and chairperson of the All Burma IT Students Union.
Monday, April 27th, 7:30pm, free
The Change You Want To See Gallery
84 Havemeyer Street, at Metropolitan Ave
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Not in New York? Tune in to a live-stream broadcast at http://www.mogulus.com/notanalternative and follow #thechange and @NAA_NYC on Twitter for live-blogging coverage.
This is the inaugural event of the 2009 Upgrade! New York art and technology programming series, pertaining to open source activist and creative practices, co-produced by Not An Alternative and Eyebeam.
About Digital Democracy
Digital Democracy (D2) uses technology to empower civic engagement. D2 works with community partners on communications technology that encourages education, dialogue and participation. Since early 2007 our team has worked with Burmese communities in Thailand, Bangladesh, India, and China as well as with resettled Burmese populations in Indiana, Washington, DC and New York. D2 staff have published and presented research on Burma with an emphasis on technology use by displaced Burmese groups. In addition to Burma’s borders, we have conducted research in Cuba, Armenia, Mali, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
About Stanley & ABITSU
Stanley is an I.T. Specialist and former political prisoner. Growing up in Rangoon, he became a student organizer for the High School Students’ Union during Burma's 1988 uprising . Exiled in 1989, he returned to Burma in 1996 and became involved in political and underground movements. In 1998 he founded the All Burma IT Student Union (formerly known as ABITSF) to mobilize I.T. students from inside Burma. He was arrested for this in 1999.
While serving a sentence for forced labor in Eastern Burma, Stanley was able to escape, and fled to Thailand where he teaches computer skills to Burmese refugees. He is chairperson of ABITSU. He and his team play an instrumental role in circumventing the military's severe censorship to share news from inside Burma with the outside world.
"ABITSU represents all the I.T. Students who are struggling for Freedom and Human Rights within Burma. We stand against the Burmese Military Regime and work to remove the Military Dictatorship, to generate more I.T. skilled personnel and build the infrastructure for a future democratic government of Burma. We also seek to obtain true freedom on the International Information High Way, and to get equal rights and opportunities for every nationality in Burma."
ABITSU is working with the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners on a campaign to Free Burma's Political Prisoners Now! Their goal is to collect 888,888 signatures by May 24, 2009, the day democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi is supposed to be released from House Arrest. Sign it today, and pass it on.