Burmese Monks to Visit Utica College

Leaders of Saffron Revolution to Speak Prior to Screening of "Burma VJ"

Written By Keith Henry

Burmese Monks to chronicle personal account of Saffron Revolution


Utica, NY (10/05/2009)
- Utica College, in collaboration with the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, will host two leaders of the Burmese uprising who took to the streets in the summer of 2007 to protest the brutal military regime controlling that country. Members of the All Burma Monks Alliance led the popular uprising after government officials raised prices for basic commodities and continued their brutal repression of the Burmese people. 
The Saffron Revolution, so named for the brightly colored robes donned by the monks as they protested in the streets, was brutally put down by the military junta and many fled the country in its aftermath. Estimates vary, but some human rights groups estimate thousands of Burmese were killed by the military. 
The repression in the streets is the subject of the film Burma VJ, which will be screened at Utica College after a presentation by U Pyinnya Zawta and Pyinnya Thiri, both members of the All Burma Monks Alliance who helped lead the protests and who witnessed the brutal crackdown by the military. The film, by Danish filmmaker Anders Ostergaard, chronicles the protests and the repression that followed through the lenses of intrepid video journalists who filmed the scenes at great risk to their personal safety and even their lives.
The presentation and the screening of the film are free and open to the public and will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8 in Macfarlane Auditorium, DePerno Hall. Jeff Miller, associate professor of communications and director of the FILM@UC series, thinks the opportunity to learn about the plight of the Burmese transcends film and he looks forward to the discourse it might engender. “I’m hoping it opens up a dialogue,” he said. “I’m hoping they talk about their harrowing escape from Burma and I’m hoping the students will ask probing questions.”
Shana Pughe, coordinator for public relations and events at the Center for Refugees, thinks the story of the monks’ odyssey is an important story for the world to learn and it shines a light on the dictatorial and repressive regime in Burma. “I think it’s very important for the community to learn about the people who are coming here in terms of why they are here as refugees and what’s happening back in their home country, and what they were fighting for in their country, ” she said. More than 2,000 Burmese refugees have been processed through the Refugee Center. 
For more information about FILM@UC visit For more information about the Mohawk Valley Center for Refugees visit

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