Back in January, I attended a screening for Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country (site, imdb), a chilling documentary about the September 2007 protest against the current military regime in the Union of Myanmar. The film documents the event with footage captured illegally by underground video journalists, smuggled out of the country, and then distributed to the international media by the Democratic Voice of Burma. The film shows firsthand the bravery of these political rebels and the daily risks they continue to take to expose economic and political oppression.
However, what moved me about the film wasn’t the hidden camera crew. It was the decision of the Buddhist monks and nuns to leave their secluded homes, outright refuse the government funding they relied on, and take a stand publically against oppression. They endured terrible treatment and even death, risking their special privileges, because they felt a responsibility for their people. Although the protest failed to improve the poor conditions, I have a feeling that the event is permanently imprinted on the minds of the Burmese people, and that their faith and commitment to Buddhism is all the stronger for it.