Aung San Suu Kyi’s World: Portraits of Burmese Dissidents and Activists

Photographer James Mackay spent three years taking portraits of Burmese dissidents and democracy activists. In each photo, the subject lifts his or her hand in a Buddhist gesture representing protection and peace. 

Inscribed on their raised hands are the names of allies, friends, kindred spirits who were still in detention at the time the photo was taken.

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Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate and famed Burmese democracy advocate, is currently on tour in the U.S., where she’ll be feted and honored at every stop she makes. On Sept. 19, she received the Congressional Gold Medal and met privately with President Barack Obama. Suu Kyi spent the better part of two decades imprisoned and kept under house arrest by Burma’s thuggish military junta. But she was released in 2010 and now, as the junta has given way to a quasi-civilian government, is a ranking member of parliament. This week, the Burmese government released 541 prisoners in a new round of amnesties (87 of whom are recognized as political prisoners). Still, Suu Kyi bears with her the legacy of a half century of dissent and struggle in what was one of the world’s most repressive states, and warns foreign audiences that Burma’s path to a just society has a far way to go.

Working on a series originally entitled ‘Even Though I’m Free I Am Not,’ photographer James Mackay spent three years taking portraits of Burmese dissidents and democracy activists, including Suu Kyi. In each photo, the subject lifts his or her hand in the classic Buddhist gesture of the ‘abhaya mudra,’ a sign representing protection, peace and the dispelling of fear. Inscribed on their raised hands are the names of allies, friends, kindred spirits who were still in detention at the time the photo was taken.

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13 comments
Soliman_the_Magnificent
Soliman_the_Magnificent

Dear Aung,

I do not know how to better clarify again. It is a problem of discrimination by the government, that is somewhat tolerated by most of the other Burmese. Even Aung San Suu Kyi was luke warm about condemning the governement and brushed off the whole issue what asked what her position was "I dont know what is going on in that part of country". Which is fair enough when you live under house arrest in a Police state, but not when the abuse is flagrant enough to make the top of the list in the UN as far discriminated minorities worldwide.

Валерій Харченко
Валерій Харченко

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Валерій Харченко
Валерій Харченко

Dear Friends,

hereby I am

kindly requesting your kind help. I am desperate as my beloved wife is very

seriously ill after her third and very hard stroke, and needs a brain surgery.

Currently she has a very high blood pressure, and the whole left side of her

body is paralized.

 

 I do need financial aid in order to

provide medical treatment for my wife. Please, help! I will greatly appreciate

your kind support.

   VISA

ELECTRON

4405 8858 1816 0118           

Sincerely yours Friend Valery Kharchenko. city

DNIEPROPETROVSK  49069  

UKRAINE 

https://www.facebook.com/pages...

Валерій Харченко
Валерій Харченко

Dear Friends,

hereby I am

kindly requesting your kind help. I am desperate as my beloved wife is very

seriously ill after her third and very hard stroke, and needs a brain surgery.

Currently she has a very high blood pressure, and the whole left side of her

body is paralized.

 

 I do need financial aid in order to

provide medical treatment for my wife. Please, help! I will greatly appreciate

your kind support.

   VISA

ELECTRON

4405 8858 1816 0118           

Sincerely yours Friend Valery Kharchenko. city

DNIEPROPETROVSK  49069  

UKRAINE 

https://www.facebook.com/pages...

Soliman_the_Magnificent
Soliman_the_Magnificent

Aung San Suu Kyi is no Nelson Mandella,

We tend to expect our nobel laureate here  to step up and condemn overt discrimination against fellow burmese of a different ethnicity and religion. She makes no reference to the crisis facing a substancial number of Burmese Rohinga tribe, who are dismissed as "non burmese " by both the military Junta and the peaceful Buddhist Monks who rallied a few weeks ago to throw the Rohingas off Burmese territory, into Bengaladish or into the sea, for all they care..

According to the UN the Rohinga are one of the worst discriminated-against ehtnicities in the globe. It sounds like Suu Kyi is content with the recognition she's aleady garnished from he international community, nobel prize and meeting with prominent policy makers, meanwhile her silcence in the Rohinga issue is complacent and sanctions the way the military has dealt with them ie. putting them in concentration camps with very little supplies, no acccess to their farmland to even feed themselves.

Aung Kaung Myat
Aung Kaung Myat

Dear Soliman,

I have no idea why you said Aung San Suu Kyi is no Nelson Mandella. They both have the same profile in fighting the authoritarian governments for democracy and human right. I think you have not studied Myanmar and its racial issues properly. Myanmar has more than 135 races excluding Chinese and Indians (they are called Kalar in burmese language which is sometimes considered to be a bit offensive) according to the official documents of the previous military regime.

As a person believing in humanism, I disagree with citizenship law of our country. Only the above ethnic people have citizenship and Chinese and Indians are considered to be foreigners with the reason they came into Myanmar from colonial period. But Rohingyas are different story.

 

As you know, our neighboring country, Bangladesh, has a much more population compared to Myanmar. And as a result of poverty, a lot of Bengali came to settle in the Rakhine State. There is growing hatred between local Rakhine and Bengalis. It is true some of Bengalis should be given citizenship but some not, who have stealthily entered Myanmar through its border recently. Besides, the case is very emotional -everything is on the verge of genocide- so the newly-elected government is handling it to be fair and square.

I would like you to remind the fact that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had been captured under house arrest for fifteen years. When she was released, she mainly took part in the political activity for the people in the world's least developed country. So, I am sure she did not have proper knowledge about these ethnic tensions. That may be the only reason for her silence. Do you think it is acceptable for a prestigious Nobel laureate to argue the issue she did not know even it is concerned with human right?

Soliman_the_Magnificent
Soliman_the_Magnificent

Dear Aung,

We both certainly share the same humanism views, and we agree on the fact that there is discrimination going on as far as citizenship etc. with other ethnicities in Burma.

It is a problem when some people live in a certain region for hundrends of years before borders were settled between countries, and sometimes the demographic would force the countries to change a previously drawn border.

Although having somone labelled as an illegal immigrant is one thing and having a people of a certain ethnicity and tribe being held in concentration camps in sub human conditions is another.

Mandella was also prisoner, and after his release,when he was awarded the nobel prize, he was a unifier. He did not tell the "white" south africans who had been there for a mere 1-200 years to go back home to Europe. He urged everybody not to discriminate against them. That being said, other countries holding concentration camps for their "undocumented" citizens.

The question is "who gets to be Burmese" and get a citizenship, which is a problem for a country with a struggling economy, if people keep seeping through the border. But if the UN documents their presence earlier than the 17th century and the fact that there are 800,000 of them in Burma (Versus only 200,000 in Bengaladish) goes against your argument.

I disagree with you that the elected government is handling it "fair and square" while keeping them in concentration camps. Do not take my word for it, take the UN's (the same US she is visiting now).

YeMinThein
YeMinThein

@Soliman_the_Magnificent 

I am so glad to reading this for your concerns with Myanmar (Burma)Status Saturation. 

But I support that except views can't be got without tracing from the begining of Ending WW2 . We (Myanmar)got Independence in 1948, but on the other hand, English tried to divided (Upper and lower Myanmar)between divisions and states [I'd heard they even showed the hiding places of guns which they hided when Japan came in , to Ba Ka Pa(Communists) who against PhaSaPaLa(Authorizing Goverment)]. Moreover China  support them(UG Communists) . For a result ,although we got Independence before India , it was also the starting of Myanmar Civil war remaining still now . 
In the same way ,they could make seperated between (Hindu Indians) and (Islamic Indians) , today as India and Pakistan  (rising political discontent and cultural nationalism in East and West , West Pakistan independently stands as Bangladesh in 1971).For a low-lying delta country, natural disasters are a part of life for those who live in the coastal areas in Bangladesh. But they adapt to the dangers and the devastations of nature’s fury. They learn to survive and live.Global warming effects are a concern for Bangladesh as sea levels continue to rise (as scientists' myth also have predicted that by 2050 Bangladesh could go under). The Bangladeshi people will find a way to survive the effect of global warming. Even Bangladesh goverment can't accept Bingali as their Nationality ,so before complain to Daw Aung San Su Kyi with her Noble Prize ,
ask first Bangladesh Government to reunited them ...
its not strange thing what Myanmar (Mongoloid) doesn't want them (like other Asean countries ) out of question from humanright ...
Just think about how to help Bengali and Bangladesh
Pls Excuse my english ... PEACE 

(711)

Aung Kaung Myat
Aung Kaung Myat like.author.displayName 1 Like

 Dear Soliman,

It is quite apparent your blame has shifted from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to the Government, hasn't it? It seems like you are always searching for something to blame for the tragedy.

I said the government is handling it "fair and square" not because of the performance of the government but because of the fact that there is a special group formed to investigate the previous consequences of the racial tension in Rakhine State, which consists of the leader of Muslims, the leader of Rakhine people and some respectful political activists like Ko Ko Gyi and Ko Thura.

Is there any refugee camp which is spacious enough for the refugees to live in happily? Frankly speaking, I am sure it will be quite unpleasant for a large number of people to live in these refugee camps. It is just the nature of the refugee camps: thousands of people dwelling in small tents, scarcity of healthy food and clean water, and the possibility of getting infected diseases at any time. It is the fault of our current Government with poor administration and lack of knowledge to deal with the refugee problems. It is also the problem of the Rakhine people who even have to stay in the monasteries till now after their houses were burnt down to ashes.

Please do not imply that the people of Myanmar or the ethnic Rakhine people are discriminating the Rohingyas or Bengalis ( these two names are always controversial in our country) racially. As you might know, racial issues are always hard to solve especially in a large number of uneducated population (Rakhine State is the state with least literacy rate in our country).

Jill Louis
Jill Louis

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Jill Louis
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Sithu Win
Sithu Win

Thanks for sending TIME news .

Firozali A.Mulla
Firozali A.Mulla

Poor are never heard NO I am not being pessimistic it is the life that shows that we do not want poor to come up I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA