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Students in Myanmar start selfie campaign to promote tolerance

Students in Myanmar start selfie campaign to promote tolerance

Some cheesy grins, a camera telephone, Within The backdrop a glistening pagoda and –- click! –- you’ve obtained a perfect picture.

But these aren’t abnormal College Students, and these aren’t ordinary selfies.

They Are part of Myanmar’s My Buddy marketing campaign, started by means of human rights activists this summer time. The organizers want people to submit selfies of themselves with friends from different non secular or ethnic backgrounds, the use of the hashtag #myfriend of #friendshiphasnoboundaries.

So what, right? However this is Myanmar. Five years ago, Facebook was blocked with the aid of the military junta. Censorship was rife. Mobile Phones have been unavailable, or price up to $5,000 for a SIM card, so no smartphone selfies.


Picture: My Pal campaign Aung Win Htut

But whereas the technology (and the federal government -– it’s now nominally civilian) has changed given that then, one of the wider problems in Myanmar society have No Longer. An Incredibly diverse position, it is usually a place loaded with ethnic rigidity. Various regions still face conflict and makes an attempt to sign a nationwide ceasefire have struggled.

The Rohingya people, a Muslim minority virtually solely based totally in Rakhine State, are among the worst affected. No Longer identified as an ethnic crew through the federal government or much of the majority Buddhist nation, They’re successfully stateless and denied get entry to to normal rights, from food to healthcare.

Many now reside in camps for internally displaced individuals after violence in 2012 forced them from their homes. Tens of thousands try and flee by way of boat. Unfortunately, some are not making it, and drown Within The Bay of Bengal.

Furthermore, wider anti-Muslim rhetoric has long gone mainstream in Myanmar. A sequence of laws referred to as the “race and religion” regulations, broadly regarded as to be discriminatory, had been passed past this 12 months. Just last month, tens of hundreds of individuals attended a rally led by using a group of ultranationalist Buddhist monks often called Ma Ba Tha to celebrate the new principles.

It was by contrast backdrop that activist Wai Wai Nu, who’s Rohingya, made up our minds to launch her marketing campaign prior this yr to point out that No Longer all of Myanmar feels this way.


Image: My Friend campaign Aung Win Htut

“We need to promote tolerance and peace among our diverse ethnic and religious society,” she says, declaring that the rise of nationalism in Myanmar is a possibility to the u . s . a .’s fledgling democracy. Elections happen on Nov. 8.

Identical campaigns, such because the #NotInMyName which used to be launched via Muslims against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, have been efficient in elevating consciousness and promoting tolerance.

And the My Friend campaign in Myanmar is already making an impact. It has nearly 3,000 likes on Fb and a whole lot have posted heartfelt messages like this one: “Our faith is completely different, our ethnicity is different, But we’re chums and we love every Different.”

Others are simpler. Thant Zin shared this photograph writing: “I’m Buddhist, my Good Friend is Muslim, However we’re Buddy(s).”

Two pals take a photograph in front of a My Friend campaign banner.

Picture: My Friend marketing campaign

Or Could Aye Thandar Kywe, who posted this on Facebook: “We’re Buddhist, we’re Muslim, we’re Christian, we’re Hindu, we’re Baha’i! We’re human beings!”


Picture: My Friend marketing campaign

Wai Wai Nu says without the upward push of social media use in Myanmar, campaigns like this might Now Not exist. Alternatively, she says that there are various people the usage of Fb and Different platforms for darker purposes, which she hopes the campaign can counteract.

She is not fallacious: as an example, Wirathu, a monk as soon as called the “Buddhist Bin Encumbered” who is the figurehead of Ma Ba Tha, rose to prominence by the use of his sermons posted on Facebook and YouTube.

Wai Wai Nu provides: “Social media is very important now because Myanmar is [a country with] some of the absolute best price of Facebook users, and plenty of racist teams are using social media to unfold hate speech. So we’ve got to make sure…younger people are Now Not engaging with this. We Wish younger folks to [use] social media in a great way for society.”
On The comparable time, the authorities are cracking down on social media posts, recently arresting two people for jokey anti-militia updates. In The face of this, Wai Wai Nu’s marketing campaign seems to be all of the braver.


Image: My Buddy campaign

She hopes displaying the arena that friendships can go boundaries might help prevent further violence, if folks acknowledge the humanity in others. The selfies are Just the first step Within The team’s wider plan to promote acceptance in Myanmar, with situations and TELEVISION promotion additionally on the agenda; and Wai Wai says the campaign does Now Not have to end at Myanmar’s borders.

“Our message is Lets Build Beautiful Future Together. Anyone world wide can take part in [the] marketing campaign through having #myfriendcampaign and #friendshiphasnoboundaries,” she says.

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