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Recent News Article about the ABMA Monks

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ABMA monks during morning prayers at their Utica monastery. Photo by REUTERS / Mike Segar

Several news organizations (Reuters, ABC, Yahoo) just posted an article by Reuters reporter Christine Kearney about the ABMA monks.

Click here to see a link to the article and a video.

And click here to see the slideshow about the monks.


Shambhala Sun: Danny Fisher Interview with Burma VJ Director and Democratic Voice of Burma about HBO premier

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Last month, I had both the honor and the pleasure of interviewing U Pyinya Zawta, a founding member and the executive director of the All Burma’s Monks’ Alliance, for my blog here at Shambhala SunSpace. After spending ten years of his life behind bars for pro-democracy activities, he was one of the leaders of 2007’s “Saffron Revolution”—the nonviolent demonstration by thousands of Buddhist monastics and other that called for economic and political justice in the military-ruled country.

When I spoke to him, U Pyinya Zawta was on his way to the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, where he was a guest of those attending with Best Documentary Feature nominee Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country. (The Oscar ultimately went to The Cove.) Directed by Anders Østergaard and distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories, which is headed up by Beastie Boy and Tibet activist Adam Yauch, the film features the work of citizen journalists inside the Saffron Revolution. Through stylized reenactments of key moments, it also tells the story of the video journalists’ struggles to get their footage of the brutally quashed uprising to the offices of the Democratic Voice of Burma in Oslo, Norway.

Burma VJ will have its U.S. television debut on Tuesday, April 20th (9:30-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO. The network was kind to enough to offer us interviews with both the Oscar-nominated Mr. Østergaard (in Denmark) and the Democratic Voice of Burma’s executive director Aye Chan Naing (in Norway). I spoke to them separately by phone.

Read full interview here.

Seattle Learns From U Pyinya Zawta

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Seattle, Washington audiences learned about the Saffron Revolution from U Pyinya Zawta during a recent trip.

U Pyinya Zawta, photo by Lindsay Borden, Seattle Metropolitan

Click here to see the Seattle Metropolitan article by Eric Scigliano.

“Even Gandhi admitted nonviolence couldn’t stop Hitler. Can it overthrow Burma’s junta?”

“Yes, Pyinya Zawta said smiling, and it will—when the soldiers, who are just as much the regime’s victims, join the students and monks in resisting it.”


U Pyinya Zawta and Burma VJ at the Oscars – Interview by Danny Fisher: On The Buddhism Beat

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The Shambhala Sun – March 8, 2010

On the Buddhism Beat: U Pyinya Zawta and “Burma VJ” at the Oscars!

Click on title above for link to The Shambhala SunSpace

Anders Østergaard, Director, and Lise Lense-Møller, Magic Hour Films Producer, Academy Award nominees for Best Documentary Feature for their film Burma VJ arrive with U Pyinya Zawta, a leader of Burma’s 2007 revolution, Aye Chan Naing, of the Democratic Voice of Burma, and guests. Photo by Richard Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.

“A founding member and the executive director of the All Burma Monks’ Alliance, U Pyinya Zawta, who spent ten years of his life behind bars for his pro-democracy activities, was one of the leaders of 2007’s “Saffron Revolution”—the nonviolent demonstration by thousands of Buddhist monastics calling for economic and political justice in the military-ruled country.

He’s also an integral part of “Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country,” which was honored with a nomination for this year’s Best Documentary Feature Oscar. (In the end, the award went to “The Cove.”) Directed by Anders Østergaard, produced by Magic Hour Films, and distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories, which is headed up by Beastie Boy and Tibet activist Adam Yauch, the film features the work of citizen journalists inside the Saffron Revolution as well as stylized reenactments of key moments.

U Pyinya Zawta and I spoke before the Oscars through translator Aung Moe Win, a graphic designer for the exile magazine, The Irrawaddy, who also made our interview possible. (Aung Moe shared his own remarkable story with PBS’s Frontline for their episode “Burma: State of Fear”.)

DANNY FISHER: Venerable, for those who don’t know you, would you please introduce yourself?

U PYINYA ZAWTA: I am U Pyinya Zawta, one of the monks who led the Saffron Revolution.  I now live in the United States and do what I can to raise awareness here about the situation in Burma.  I often visit colleges and universities, giving speeches and offering screenings of Burma VJ.

DANNY FISHER: There have been some interesting editorials in the last week or so—specifically at the New York Times’s Carpetbagger blog and Foreign Policy—about the “importance” of the Oscar nomination for Burma VJ.  Would you say something about why you think the Academy’s notice is so important?

U PYINYA ZAWTA: Burma VJ is very important because it can help raise awareness and educate viewers about what’s happening on the ground in Burma.  The film shows the horrible things that are taking place there, and also demonstrates how people are forced to gather information.  The more people who see the film, the more people can see what’s happening.

DANNY FISHER: What’s next in terms of projects aimed at raising public consciousness about the struggle for democracy in Burma?  What do you think the movement for democracy needs?

U PYINYA ZAWTA: People are getting to know more and more about Burma, but they also need to learn about approaches toward this illegitimate regime.   The coming election will not be legitimate.  Anything that can help the world community understand this and raise their voices for Burma is important.

DANNY FISHER: What are some simple things that concerned readers can do to help?

U PYINYA ZAWTA: What they can do is write or phone their elected officials to educate them as necessary and put pressure on them to not recognize this election.  Another way to be helpful, especially to the monks now imprisoned in Burma’s notorious prisons, is to support the All Burma Monks’ Alliance.  They are doing so much to help. Visit the website at

DANNY FISHER: If Burma VJ wins the Oscar, what will you say to the millions of people watching?  Or what do you hope others will say?

U PYINYA ZAWTA: The most important thing to say is that the world community must stand up for Aung San Suu Kyi and the monks imprisoned in Burma, and work for their freedom.”

Burma VJ, a Film by Anders Ostergaard

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Please support this film

“BURMA VJ,” featuring the leading monks of the 2007 Saffron Revolution and the brave video journalists of the Democratic Voice of Burma, is now playing in US theaters.  It was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Documentary Feature Film” for 2009.

MOVIES   | May 20, 2009
Movie Review | ‘Burma VJ’:  Bravery Fills Secret Burmese Dispatches


“Burma VJ” is a rich, thought-provoking film not only because of the story it tells, but also because of the perspective it offers.


*Limited* US Theatrical Release –

In Theaters
03/01/10 – Salt Lake City, UT – SLC Film Center
03/05/10 – Lake Park, FL – Mos’ Art Theatre
03/05/10 – Lake Worth, FL – Lake Worth Playhouse
03/06/10 – Los Angeles, CA – DocuDays
03/06/10 – New York, NY – DocuDays
03/13/10 – Los Angeles, CA – City of Angels Film Festival
03/14/10 – New York, NY – Symphony Space
03/16/10 – New Orleans, LA – New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival
03/19/10 – Miami Beach, FL – Miami Beach Cinematheque
03/21/10 – Montpelier, VT – Savoy Theater
03/26/10 – Frederick, MD – Frederick Film Festival
04/06/10 – Glens Falls, NY – Crandall Public Library
04/08/10 – Ashland, OR – Ashland Independent Film Festival
04/09/10 – St. Johnsbury, VT – Catamount Center for the Arts
04/15/10 – Santa Barbara, CA – UC-SB Arts and Lectures
04/16/10 – Eau Claire, WI – UW- Eau Claire Progressive Film Festival
04/16/10 – Providence, RI – Brown University
04/19/10 – Port Jefferson, NY – Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council


An Urgent Appeal for Donations to Support the Saffron Revolution Monks

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Since the 2007 Saffron Revolution, about forty Burmese Buddhist monks who led and participated in peaceful prayers and protests against the military regime escaped from Burma and arrived in the United States.  Out of the forty, because of the difficulties in finding benefactors and supporters for their monk-hood, only seven have been able to remain on as monks in this country.

We are presently trying to found a new temple and monastery to house the remaining Saffron monks in the United States and to support others who may arrive in the coming years to provide services to Burmese immigrants. Your contribution can help us launch a new Saffron Monks Temple and Monastery in the United States.  Please support us by donating to the All Burma Monks Alliance.  Please click on the “Give Alms” tab to see how you can help us.

Please click the image for more information:

An Urgent Appeal for Donations to Support the Saffron Monks from Burma

U Gawsita and U Agga Nyana talk about Utica, New York and “Burma VJ”

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UTICA —A Utica resident is a key figure in an Oscar-nominated documentary about civilian protest in one of the world’s most repressive nations. In September 2007, U Gawsita led fellow monks and tens of thousands of Burmese residents through Rangoon in Myanmar (formerly Burma), in opposition to the country’s longstanding military regime.

“We young monks who follow Buddha’s teachings must now join the protest,” U Gawsita shouted into a bullhorn, demanding reconciliation, dialogue and the release of political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, who is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

It would all be captured by undercover video journalists whose footage would be spread throughout the country and the world.

Read more

By CASSAUNDRA BABER (The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, NY)

YouTube ABMA Video by Gersing Aung

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Click Here for a link to the YouTube Video prepared by ABMA supporter Gersing Aung

This is his response to the YT Video Volunteers for Human Rights campaign.

Dhamma Talks Posters Banned by Regime

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The Irrawaddy reported that the junta has banned advertising posters of Buddhist monks’ dhamma talks. More restrictions are being placed on activities of Buddhist monks in Burma.

Click here to see the article.

The Irrawaddy Reports on UN Resolution

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The Irrawaddy reports on the United Nations General Assembly passing a resolution condemning the violations of human rights in Burma.

Click here to see the article