Nothing About Us Without Us
Burma Project (now Progressive Voice)
19 mins - refugee advocacy - languages: English, Burmes
With breakdowns in both trust and communication between refugees and international organisations, Burma Partnership (now Progressive Voice) commissioned this film to give refugees a voice. The film was translated into six languages and screened in a number of countries around the world.
Film: Burmese Language version
Film Brief, Budget & Credits
Genre - Refugee advocacy
Crew - A Tim and Dan Q co-production, directed by Timothy Syrota
Interestingly, shortly before the production of this film, it was noted in a report to the UN that, regarding the voluntary return of refugees to Myanmar, "the Special Rapporteur (Thomas Quintana) heard concerns that affected individuals and communities had not been consulted and that rumours and misinformation had generated widespread uncertainty in the camps. He believes that these views are important and hopes that any returns take place in consultation with affected indicviduals and communities."
The Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Thailand, arued that they were in fact doing this. Indeed, they had hosted a 'consultation' on the matter in Chiang Mai. Sadly, only two refugees observers were able to attend: Chiang Mai is some 400km from the nearest refugee camp and travel out of the camps presents often insurmountable logistical and security risks to refugees trying to travel. Simply put, that was had been considered one of the UN ticks in the consultation box.
The UNHCR were furious when the film was released as part of a well orchestrated advocacy campaign and mounted a campaign of their own, having op eds published in a number of regional papers, including the Straights Times, in a bid to discredit the film. Indeed, they even went so far as to suggest that the film was responsible for escalating fear amongst the refugees.
In the refugee camps, meanwhile, refugees could be seen wearing t-shirts upon which had been printed the slogan 'Nothing About Us Without Us'. Some years later the film still being referenced by refugees, much to the chagrin of the UN, at consultations. And for myself, also for a number of years, refugees thanked myself, D, and Burma Project for the work.