Archives for posts with tag: Myanmar

Nyi Nyi Aung was the person who got me interested in Burma in the first place. He’s a democracy activist who’s spent most of the past 25 years living in exile in Thailand and the U.S. He was arrested trying to enter Burma in 2009. I covered his trial and imprisonment, and met him for the first time a few days after he was released and returned to his home outside of Washington, D.C.

It was a bit surreal to, four years later, spend a day with him openly exploring Yangon, seeing spots important to the story of the 1988 uprising and talking about what’s happening in the country today. Here’s the article I wrote for Al Jazeera America about that day.

Nyi Nyi Aung outside of a childhood home in Yangon in July, 2013.

Nyi Nyi Aung outside of a childhood home in Yangon in July, 2013.

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Seamstress in a village in Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta. Photo: Kaung Htet

Seamstress in a village in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta. Photo: Kaung Htet

I was thrilled to be a part of this Open Hands Initiative/Global Post fellowship in June that sent 10 U.S. journalists over to Myanmar to work with 10 Burmese journalists, under the watchful eye of a bunch of seasoned foreign correspondents and Myanmar experts.

Here’s  the report that we put together for Global Post; lots of good stuff in there. Even better was getting to spend a few weeks exploring a country I’m fascinated by with new colleagues, and to see that country’s young media already thriving and in very capable hands, including those of my new friends at The Myanmar Times, RFA Burmese, and BBC Burmese.

Aung San Suu Kyi at a dinner we had with her on our final night in the country. Photo: Natalie Keyssar

Aung San Suu Kyi at a dinner we had with her on our final night in the country. Behind her are  Kaung Htet, who took the photo at the top of this post; Sarah Fitzpatrick, a producer for CBS; and me. The photo’s by Natalie Keyssar, another allstar.

One thing with potential to bring positive change to Myanmar is the Comprehensive Education Sector Review. (Policy types = not so good with punchy titles.) A bunch of experts from all over are digging in and trying to build a qualitative, broad picture of the country’s creaky education system.

I got a chance to see one small piece of that system–a free elementary school run by a Buddhist monastery near Yangon. Here’s the story I did for The World.

Phoo Myint Mo and Chit Loon Oo, two students at Thiri Mingalar Monastic School in Pyi Thar Township near Yangon.

Phoo Myint Mo and Chit Loon Oo, two students at Thiri Mingalar Monastic School in Pyi Thar Township near Yangon.

I hurried up to Mandalay planning to head from there to Monywa, where ongoing protests against a Chinese-owned copper mine had just been broken up pretty violently by local security forces. When I got to Mandalay, though, I found out that The World already had someone in Monywa covering the demonstration. (Sometimes communication breaks down a bit when there’s an 11-and-a-half-hour difference between reporter and editor.)

So there I was in Mandalay. Here’s the story I cobbled together.

Signs on the stage at the Moustache Brothers' performance space in Mandalay. The  photograph shows Lu Maw with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Signs on the stage at the Moustache Brothers’ space in Mandalay. Par Par Lay and Aung San Suu Kyi are in the photo behind the signs.

I met Ah Noh of the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) a couple years ago when she was in New York for meetings at the U.N. She and Debbie Stothard of ALTSEAN Burma talked to a small group at Columbia about the current situation in Kachin State. I got back in touch with her when I was heading to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where KWAT is based. We met and Ah Noh filled me in on what KWAT was working on, and a few days later she hosted me at her church.

Here’s the story I did for The World about that visit, and what the current situation for ethnic minorities in Burma looks like seen across the border in Chiang Mai.

Christmas tree at Wunpawng Church in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Christmas tree and a young worshiper at Wunpawng Church in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

42 members of the National League for Democracy won parliamentary seats in April’s by-election in Myanmar. You’ve probably heard of at least one of them. I got to sit down with another one of them while I was in Yangon in December. Phyu Phyu Thin is a longtime HIV/AIDS activist, and now an MP representing Mingalar Taung Nyunt in Yangon.

Here’s the profile I did for The World.

Phyu Phyu Thin on the campaign Trail. (Photo: Htoo Tay Zar/Wikipedia)

Phyu Phyu Thin on the campaign trail. (Photo: Htoo Tay Zar/Wikipedia)

One thing that struck me as I got into some of the policy issues at play in Thailand’s migrant worker laws is how similar they are to ones being debated in the U.S., and how Thailand has tackled them more actively and successfully than we have. The Thai system is still a mess, though.

Here’s a story I did for The World about new wrinkles in the Thai system for giving migrant workers from neighboring countries legal status.

Public bathrooms at a migrant worker camp outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Public bathrooms at a migrant worker camp outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

A trishaw driver association parading down Pansodan Street in Yangon, on their way to deliver offerings to a Buddhist monastery.

A trishaw driver association parading down Pansodan Street in Yangon, on their way to deliver offerings to a Buddhist monastery.

U Pyinya Zawta, a Burmese Buddhist monk I know here in Brooklyn, told me that tazaungdaing was happening the day I arrived in Myanmar. I was all “tazaungwhat?” and he explained that it was a big deal–the end of a month of offerings people make to monasteries. Kind of like a Burmese Buddhist Christmas, he said, only giving stuff instead of getting stuff.

So when I got to Yangon on November 28, I fought off the jet lag and went out to see what I could see. Here’s an audio slideshow I produced for The World.

A few small things I wrote for The World‘s blog while I was in Myanmar–

One on chasing rumors of demonstrations, and finding only a scrum of reporters.

One on international ATM cards finally being accepted in the country, and my failed attempts to make use of this fact.

And one on Yangon’s lovely quality of being a bit trapped in time, a quality that I think it’s now quickly shedding.

AGD

Asia Green Development Bank seen through spires at Sule Pagoda. AGD is owned by Tay Za, who Forbes called “one of Burma’s richest tycoons.”

After drifting in editorial limbo for a few weeks, a profile I wrote of a Burmese diplomat was rushed to web yesterday. The impetus was Obama’s announcement that Secretary Clinton would visit Myanmar in December–the country was all of a sudden all up in the headlines. The profile is about Kyaw Win, who served the Burmese Foreign Ministry for 31 years before resigning from his post at the D.C. embassy in July and applying for asylum.

Here’s the story–a slightly updated version (which I’m currently procrastinating from finishing) will be in Monday’s paper Friday’s paper the paper one of these days.