GlobeMed hosts Burma Voices

Andy Monserud

Members of GlobeMed performed the original production Burma Voices on Friday, April 10. The event consisted of a series of monologues about the country’s long period of rule by a military junta, based on the testimonies of Burmese people. Though military rule ended in 2011, it has led to an unstable state under which many of the country’s various ethnic groups are still subjected to persecution and ethnic cleansing. Burma Voices sought to raise money for the Burma Humanitarian Mission, a non-profit partnered with GlobeMed that works to provide medical care and education in the country and to raise awareness of the nation’s ongoing political strife.

Colleen Bell '14 delivers a monologue. Photo by Halley McCormick.
Colleen Bell ’14 delivers a monologue. Photo by Halley McCormick.

GlobeMed has an ongoing fundraising partnership with the Burma Humanitarian Mission, and members take trips to neighboring Thailand annually to work in refugee camps near the two nations’ shared border.  This event both grew out of that partnership and worked to fulfill it.

Directed by senior GlobeMed member Tory Davidson, the monologues were adapted from a book of testimonials on the military regime that a group of GlobeMed members had brought home from a trip to Thailand. The book was written in 2008 and 2009, but according to GlobeMed member sophomore Haley Case, many of the brutal tactics of the old regime remain in the small Southeast Asian state, which is now known as Myanmar.

“[The monologues] are a little more historical, but … the legacy of the regime carries forward strongly to today,” said Case. “So even though there was a regime shift … it’s definitely still an issue.”

The monologues included speeches from political and cultural leaders like Zarganar, a popular Burmese comedian embodied in GlobeMed’s production by junior Arty Kraisitudomsook, and U Win Htein, a high-profile member of an opposition party known as the National League for Democracy who was imprisoned by the junta following his election to the Burmese parliament in 1990, played by first-year Jessie Friedman. It also featured perspectives from ordinary Burmese people who fell afoul of the regime, either because of their involvement in anti-regime activism or simply by bad luck.

“We’re putting on this event … to showcase the stories of people from Burma –– political refugees, peace activists, mainly people who are really promoting democracy –– to amplify their voices and bring another perspective to campus, which is kind of why GlobeMed exists,” said Case. “We exist to support these people.”

After the monologues, attendees were treated to traditional Burmese food and asked to consider writing letters to their representatives requesting action to aid the people of Burma/Myanmar. First-year Robby Boyer, who signed one such letter, found the presentation informative but said he wished it had covered more recent events.

“I really hadn’t heard anything about the situation in Burma. I knew that historically there were things terrible happening, but I didn’t know about what was happening today,” said Boyer. “It’s only a little bit about what’s going on … I’d like to know more.”web-IMG_9464