In 2000, propaganda is seen in the streets and in the only English newspaper “New Light of Myanmar”
In 2000, even though it was not obvious as a tourist to feel that Burma was a dictatorship … some details helped us to understand!
Burma was still one of the worst dictatorship worldwide. The country was one of the top 10 poorest and most corrupted in the world. That year, the author traveled to Burma for the first time.
He traveled there several times since, bringing back photos, audio and video recordings, the latest dating from 2015.
His fascination carried on during the following trips but his look on the country changed. It became sharper, less naive and more politically aware.
In 2005 and 2006, he lived on the Thailand-Burma border for a year. He produced a documentary on young activists in exile.
A young girl working in a Cherrots’ factory, these Burmese cigarettes found at all street corners.
An unhoped for change
Today, like many observers, the author was amazed by the political transition of the country towards more democracy … Although Burmese history taught us to beware of appearances!
The author waited until 2012 and the first by-election to go back to Burma. For all those years, he often asked himself why this country was so different from others in his eyes.
That time most french speaking films talking about Burma tackled the spiritual dimension of the country or its political situation but rarely both together. The author always felt that those two dimensions were deeply connected. His project grew from this idea.
Speeded up reflection…
More than in any other Buddhist country, spirituality through its various religious dimensions has influenced the highest spheres of power, as well as a big part of the population.
Burmese geopolitical situation, between China, India and ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) offers a good entry point to understand the stakes of the evolution of this region that is taking a new and strategic place on the world stage.
For instance, the country is rich in energy resources (gas and electricity), triggering the greed of neighboring countries while over 70% of the population have only partial access to these resources.
The population of Burma is multi-ethnic (135 ethnic minorities have an official status). These ethnic minorities gather 40% of the country‘s population. Many of them were in guerilla condition against the central power for over 50 years.
But today, the government’s policy seems to move towards negotiation for a better inclusion of ethnic differences (at least it declare it).
Finally, this political evolution necessarily implies a change in economic management. The country is full of resources but they are in the hands of a small number of people thanks to corruption mechanisms.
The country‘s leaders seem ready for development through opening up to foreign investment. The stakes are high for a young population that crave to access to the consumer society like all the neighboring countries.
With the 2015 general election coming, the author asks himself : how can the idea of democracy blossom in this country ? What does democracy mean for these young generations who have never known it ? What is a democracy ? How does it materialize ? What are the main differences with other governance models?