Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Burma: A Human Tragedy (movie review)

The nation-state system is broken in many places and stateless refugees pile up, with bystander nations feeling helpless.  Burma is a poster child for the brokenness of nations.  But not the only one.

This film focuses mostly on the plight of Burma's refugees in Thailand and Bangladesh.  Many are internally displaced and wander the jungles, pursued by a genocidal army hell bent on ethnic cleansing.  A rebel army, actually several, fight back.

The prospects for new treaties among these peoples, new agreements, would improve in a context of more trust.  Aung San Suu Kyi is interviewed and her comments are used to punctuate the action.  Anjelica Huston narrates.  There's no deep historical storytelling nor geopolitical analysis.  The focus is recent times and what's happening on the ground.

The film is damning towards a particular ruling elite, offering few reasons to hope.  A reconciliation process, more like what occurred in South Africa, is contemplated by some.

Telling Burma's story outside Burma is somewhat effective, i.e. a kind of processing goes on which might be too incendiary within the local namespace.  People learn from seeing themselves mirrored elsewhere.

Given the ethnic strife in North America, and the history of genocide and betrayal, it's somewhat useful to compare notes perhaps.  Many of the same patterns are repeated cross-culturally.  Problems around rape for example (I happened to see this as a double feature with Occupy Unmasked, with a focus on the same phenomenon).