A blog about my life, writings and whatever strikes my fancy.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Rambo, popular film among Burmese and Karen refugees
Sometime ago, I wrote about how the film "Rambo," AKA "Rambo 4" was an extremely popular film among the refugees from Burma that I knew. The plot of the film deals with Rambo, played by Sylvester Stallone, entering the Karen territory of Burma to rescue some American missionaries. The American missionaries were bringing bibles and medicine to the Karen people. However when Burmese soldies attack the Karen village, the missionaries are captured by the Burmese soldiers. It is, according to many refugees from the Burmese police state, a criminal offense publishable by two to four years in prison to watch or possess this movie in Burma. It's a very simple movie, thematically, and I'm not sure what to make of it. The Burmese army is bad. Rambo kills them. But, nevertheless, I confess that four minutes in the movie my eyes began to water as sadness and pent-up emotions began to come out. The film begins with a brief description of Burma and its brutal government and the atrocities it commits on its Burmese and ethnic minority citizens. It's all true (Aside from the strange fact that they indicated that it was only the ethnic minorities in the east who are rising up against the government. The truth is the minorities on all sides are rising up. This government is bad, very bad and there's not much that can be done to state otherwise.) This is followed by some scenes of Burmese soldiers driving prisoners across a minefield and then commiting atrocities on the remaining prisoners. It's brutal. In another context, I would dismiss this as gratuitous violence. Yet it is exactly what has happened and is continuing to happen in this part of the world. The strange fact is that I have refugee friends who I know have been exposed to this sort of thing in various ways. What's terrible is when your talking to a good hearted college age guy who you've know for a while and he starts talking matter of factly about doing wood cutting at his parents' house in Burma. And you ask him to clarify because you thought he was in Thailand at that time. His explanation is that he visited them. When asked if that was possible, he explained, with no emotion except for a shrug, that it was but you had to sneak through the woods and stay off the roads or you'd be shot on sight by soldiers who might mistake you for a guerilla or rebel. I'm not surprised by the response the film received from Karen and Burmese refugees. The violence, the brutality, the injustice they have suffered is great. And not just the horror of it all, but the obscurity of the issue in the minds of most people you meet, is incredible. I cannot imagine what it would be like to spend most of my life suffering persecution and attempted genocide because of my ethnic background and then finding myself in a room full of people who had never heard of my ethnic group. And yet this is exactly what happens whenever a Karen refugee from Burma tries to interact with Americans or most non-refugee groups such as, for instance, a college course of English as a Second Language.
SUGGESTED SEARCHES FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR CONCRETE ADVICE ON HELPING REFUGEES
1. FURNITURE(tips on running a refugee center furniture collection program.)
2. DRIVING (tips on teaching driving to refugees)
3. HIGHER EDUCATION (tips on assisting refugees with higher education.)
4. BURMESE NAMES (a long article on Burmese and Karen names.)
I tend to write several entries on a subject and although admittedly they are of variable quality by following the topic keys then one should get a fairly complete view of what I think on the issue. There's a lot of good information buried here particularly on some obscure subjects related to assisting newly arrived refugees, particularly from Burma. These subjects include furniture donation issues, driver education and even domestic violence. If these issues interest you, follow the internal links, do searches, there's a lot here and I've found that often people search on a subject using google, I've written an answer, but the search engines sent them to some other entry where I discussed only a small part of the issue. So if a subject that interests you has a truly mediocre entry there is probably a good one hidden away as well on different aspects of the same subject You can't get a full picture on the issues covered in this blog by reading just one entry. it wasn't written that way. If you still don't see what you want, feel free to drop me an e-mail. Thank you.
Journalist, educator, and low level Asian history scholar who dabbles in fiction. Peter Huston is the author of several books, including Scams from the Great Beyond, Tong, Gangs, and Triads,, and the novel, Excess Emotional Baggage.
Interests include :
1) Internatinal Education and Teaching English as a Second or other Language,
2)refugee concerns and refugee resettlement,
3)self defense and martial arts,
4) Asian culture and history,
5) censorship controversies
6) the skeptical examination of paranormal and pseudo-scientific claims.
Education includes a master's degree in East Asian Studies from Cornell and a second master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University at Albany, party of the New York State SUNY system.
I am not the sailing guy, sports betting guy or the attorney guy. These people who use the name Peter Huston are, presumably, impostors. I am the real