Update on Myanmar/Burma Protests and Mobile Phones

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Sep 28, 2007

The Myanmar military continued to suppress demonstrations in Burma/Myanmar today with harrowing pictures of tear gas, guns, and beatings directed at the monks and many more civilian protesters, estimated at 70,000 people. We wrote earlier about the use of mobile phones in transmitting information. The BBC today has an update on the use of the Internet in getting information out of Burma, as the country is called by democracy supporters and dissidents. The article notes that mobiles were used to get information out of the country, but also as a tool by the military junta to disseminate rumors and false information. This is something that we have seen elsewhere - mobiles as a disruptive rumor and propaganda mill -- most recently in Sierra Leone.

The Democratic Voice of Burma has emerged as a major newssource for mobile and video footage from Burma. Other content from inside of Burma is sent by citizens to the BBC where there are some moving pictures, many taken by mobile and emailed or MMSed to the BBC. More footage taken by people in Burma was on the BBC newscast tonight and is here as well (Real Player required). We have little information about the prevalence of mobiles in the country and ability to MMS footage out of the country, but it appears that the Internet is only inconsistently filtered, allowing both pictures and video taken by mobiles and cameras to be sent and published around the world.

According to the latest accounts, eight or more demonstrators have been killed, and many more injured. We here at MobileActive.org applaud the great courage of the demonstrators to stand up for human rights and democracy, and their efforts to inform the world.

Photo credit: David/from Burma as transmitted on the BBC.

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Escaping from Just Being Active Within the Media-Scape

Photos and capturing video and distributing it is a wildly useful development (obviously).

The idea that BBC is employing (are they paying for any of the content that is sent in?) citizen-tech-use at on-scene experiences is also a useful extension of on-the-ground perspective but I don't see much as far as having a strategic next step scenario of influencing & augmenting circumstances beyond being watchers, readers, photographers, and video-graphers.

To converge these elements into a force that pressures regional governing persons from the military to mayors to bankers and spotlight icons is a whole other level that I see as highly under-developed.

I'm mainly writing this post to stimulate readers to think into this next arena as our
tapped & untapped archive of photos and video grows along with the world's challenges and as political psychosis increases in America.


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