I met Ashin Yevata, a humble monk from Burma (Myanmar), about a year ago. Shortly after we met, he helped lead the massive protests that spread throughout the country calling for change. Burma is one of the poorest countries in the world, strangled by its own despotic government. Forced labor, torture and systematic genocide are practiced by the ruthless Junta. In 1988, students started what became nation-wide protests for change and Democracy. They ended with massacres of the people by their own government. It is estimated that the government slaughtered 3,000 of its own citizens (though the government estimates that there were only a few casualties). When Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and head of the National League for Democracy, was elected Prime Minister, the government put her under house arrest where she has remained for the greater part of the last twenty years. She is loved by her people like no one I can think of in the history of American politics and is likened to Gandhi. Last year, when protests started in response to economic distress, three monks were injured by the military. The monks of Myanmar demanded an apology by a certain date and all joined to protest when the government refused. The protests quickly became widespread with some reporting over 100,000 monks marching through the streets of Yangon. Again, the military ended it with a bloody crackdown. They rounded up and imprisoned or killed monks that were involved. Ashin was able to escape to the Burma-Thai border, where thousands of Burmese refuges live in fear of deportation and at the will of a corrupt police. He passed this homemade VCD to me at a time when people were being imprisoned or killed on the streets for even taking pictures of what was happening in the country. It was his wish that I share this with as many people as possible. He gathered footage from what he and his friends had as well as what he could find on the news.
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