The plight of the Karen who are indigenous to Burma led to several epiphanic moments for me. Exploring possible causes via analysis using Garner’s (2006) factors may lead to more epiphanies. I only hope that one day I can use media as effectively, and to such valiant ends as these.
Cease Fire (Kaw Lah Films, 2009) is a film created by an indigenous film group which strives to educate the Karen, as well as those outside Burma, about self-determination, steps toward freeing the Karen of the oppressive SPDC tyranny under which they “live”, and examples of courage in the face of SPDC adversity. The most striking notion expressed in this chapter is the idea that the international audience can best help by not giving charity to those struggling, but by supporting their self-determination. Allowing them the support to brave this tyranny and overcome the Burmese themselves by standing up for themselves.
Because it is important the Kaw Law to encourage self-determination, the audience I believe is targeted by Kaw Lah, is the indigenous Karen. Were Kaw Law Films able to distribute this message to those Karen struggling to survive, the factors in play would be using reason, research, resonance, real world events, and redescriptions.
Kaw Law uses reason by examining facts about historical populations, land control, military, and previously enjoyed rights; basic rights owed to humans. They use research by seeking out specific examples of rape, death, forced abandonment of homes and villages, case studies, etc. This kind of information would resonate with audiences who have lived through similar examples of tyranny. Real world events (in the case of Cease Fire they specifically highlight the cease fire ordered in January of 2004) give examples of how no self-determination leads to even worse consequences (e.g., no Karen military to defend the Karen ended in much more abuse and violence). Finally, filming the events and distributing them throughout villages and Karen refuges allows for redescriptions of the events and stories which seek to encourage self-determination.
The Kaw Law media group relays a variety of stories; courage, loss, abuse, and accomplishment. Their message doesn’t ask for hand outs, rather it asks for the intolerance of abuse and the courage to reject that abuse. It asks for us, as an international audience, to become aware and supportive, while refusing to enable. The fact that Kaw Lah Films are willing to go into dangerous places, interviewing Karen, and braving Burmese, shows their drive towards self-determination as well; a great example to those who may not know a world where it is acceptable to stand up for yourself.
Gardner, H. (2006). Changing minds: The art and science of changing our own and other people’s minds. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Kaw Lah Films. (2009) Cease fire. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL6F93A963CC913B16&feature=player_embedded&v=ZOH529OwYZo