Burmese Lies: “The Evil BBC”

12 Dec

On Monday I met with a Burmese student to discuss the media censorship situation in Burma.

Zoya spoke to me in a hushed way, leaning in to tell me the details. She later revealed that it was because she is still ‘scared’, afraid to speak out or question anything.

Zoya is twenty-five and will never be allowed back in her country again. She said she misses it, and strangely felt safe there. Why wouldn’t she? She had absolutely no reason to believe otherwise, being from the capital city where residents have little knowledge of the atrocities going on in other parts of the country.

With the newspapers which she showed me telling her that the BBC is completly evil and how the government are doing wonderful things, building new universities, stabilising the state, the rest of the world seems like a place to be afraid of. The objectives of the country are clearly labelled on the front page of “The New Light of Myanmar”; the Burmese are led to believe their country is stable.  A far cry from the human rights situation we are made aware of in Britain.

We are not aware enough, Zoya argued. To move forward in Burma everyone needs to know what is going on. She believes the UN needs to investigate the crimes.

She told me that she never knew there had been a world war until she came to London to study. No one had told her. It was kept secret to the new generation. The History are, not surprisingly, written by the government and thoroughly censored.

Zoya recalls the 1988 uprising, when she was only 3, where people tried to fight against the terrifying regime. She told me of the heads in the sports field where she lived. She told me of the man, burnt to death and beheaded, tied to a pole in his village.

“The new generation has no idea we had an uprising, no one will tell them.”

Before she came to England, she recalls seeing a group of people demonstrating. Everyone ran as she saw a van approach them, and random people, as well as passers-by, being dragged into the van. They were never seen again.

When these kind of things happen, the people taken are either jailed or killed. If they are jailed, they have no fair trial. I asked her if she would have been dragged into the van, simply for being there. She nodded.

What effect does this regime have on Zoya?

“We can’t express what we want. There is fear inside the people of Burma. I was blind until I became educated.”

After campaigning with The Burma Campaign in England, Zoya is blacklisted in her country. She will never speak to her family again.

She continues to find it hard questioning authority. When a teacher ends a class with “Any questions?”, she’s still shocked when students raise their hands.

“The Burmese people are patient, we will continue to pray. It will take time for change, but we want it badly.”


One Response to “Burmese Lies: “The Evil BBC””

  1. mrtotes January 1, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    On a slightly different tack, the subject of at what point is it is right for the international community to get involved either politically or possibly ultimately militarily to resolve this intrigued me.  Being the world’s policeman generally has negative connotations but I think I’d prefer us to take action rather than sit back and allow these situations to continue unabated. 

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