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Burma Soldier

Category |History, Human Rights, Personal Story, Politics
Year | 2010
Country | Ireland, Burma, Thailand, USA
Running time | 70’ - 54’
Format | HDCam
Production | leBrocquy Fraser Productions
Director | Nic Dunlop, Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg


Burma Soldier provides a rare glimpse of a brutal dictatorship seen through the eyes of a courageous former soldier who, quite literally, swapped sides. The documentary will offer an exclusive and rare perspective, from inside the heart and mind of a former Burmese soldier who lays bare an understanding of a brutal regime and the political and psychological power of the junta over his country.

In 2008, a 46-year-old man called Myo Myint walked through the gate of a Burmese refugee camp and travelled to Bangkok airport, where his first ever plane-ride took him 12,000 miles to the USA. There, on a humid Indiana evening, he embraced a brother he had not scene in almost 20 years.

This emotional reunion marked the end of one chapter in an extraordinary life and the beginning of a new one. For Myo Myint is no ordinary refugee. As a young man, he joined the Burmese army, which has ruled the country for almost 50 years; he witnessed atrocities committed by his comrades against his own people. Later, he became a democrat, joining the mass movement led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi; he was jailed and tortured. He fled Burma with a unique and heartrending story.

Burma's tortured history provides the backdrop to Myo Myint's tale. Born in 1963, a year after the military seized power in Burma, Myo Myint grew up under the military. Later, as a teenager, he joined up to be a soldier on the frontline of brutal jungle wars against his own people. Shelled in a minefield, he lost a leg, an arm, and fingers. This single event changed his life.

After his discharge he dedicated his life to bringing peaceful change to Burma. He joined the momentous 1988 protests, meeting Suu Kyi herself and later, crutches in hand, giving speeches outside military bases. Eloquent and charismatic, he convinced hundreds of his former brothers-in-arms to join his fight for democracy.

It didn't last. The junta's spies arrested and jailed him, and he endured 15 years of abuse, sickness, and neglect in Burma's gulag. Crippled by landmines, scarred by torture, Myo Myint's body is almost a symbol of his shattered country, his survival a tribute to the resilience of his long-suffering people.

Those people rose up again in 2007, led by Buddhist monks, and again, they were crushed by the military. Despite global condemnation, despite strict sanctions by the U.S. and other countries, the junta remains as entrenched as ever. By putting a face to the demonized institution, Myo Myint's story also gives us new ways of understanding Burma's generals - and, perhaps, new ideas for dislodging them.

Burma Soldier follows Myo Myint's transformation from a solider of the junta to a fighter for democracy; from a prisoner of the regime to a free man in a foreign land. It is the story of an entire nation seen through the eyes of one remarkable person - a story of enduring courage against overwhelming odds.

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