The Saffron Revolution made me decide I want to be part of the change for my country
When the Saffron Revolution happened in 2007, I was 15. Seeing many protesters including monks getting killed on the street made me question many things about our government. Why could the military do whatever they want without legal conseqeunces? Why were people so afraid of telling the truth and expressing themselves? Why did we only memorise at schools to pass exams and not think about what was happening? As I looked for answers to my own questions, I decided that I wanted to be part of something that can bring real change to Burma.
When I was 18, I found my passion in writing and telling people’s stories of injustice. This started my dream to become a journalist. After finishing high school in 2009, I joined the printed media in Yangon. Two years later in 2011, I published my first article in Burmese New Life magazine and moved to Mae Sot in Thailand where I founded Young Generation Note (YGN).
Exchanges with international communities confirmed my belief in independent media
Young Generation Note (YGN) started as a journal of news, short stories and articles about current affairs from contributors in Mae Sot because the media were all controlled back in Burma, and there was no alternative to hear non-government voices. Then in 2013, I met volunteer students from Hong Kong at Connecting Myanmar, and we started a summer media training workshop together. Our hope was to let more Mae Sot migrant and refugee youth understand the importance of the media and empower them to tell the truth and their stories.
Apart from YGN, I also continued contributing stories mainly on Burmese migrant workers in Thailand for various newspaper, as well as weekly political “style-pens.” After my stories have accumulated for 3 years, a Myanmar publishing house collected my articles and published them in a book called “The Parrot Democracy.” It was distributed in Myanmar widely and I was then invited by the Burmese community in Germany to share about my work in Europe. Seeing how peaceful the European countries are, where people do not have to worry about being able to afford healthcare and education, I was further convinced that democracy is necessary for a country to develop and change, and we certainly need independent media for that.
Education as a stepping stone to reach my goal
After the visit to Europe, I came back to Thailand and continued writing more, eventually launching YGN Publishing House in 2016 to publish 5 more books. For ten years now, I have been pursuing my dream through gaining experience on the ground and reading the work of other writers voicing out for change, including the late U Win Tin, who was a great inspiration for me with his writing as a political prisoner. The writing, travelling and reading built up my skills and belief that with pen and camera, I can bring change. Later, I began to see the value of education, but I lacked the financial means to study in university.
Now, I will be embarking on my Bachelor’s degree in the Innovative Media Production at Bangkok University this August 2019. As social and online media are replacing printed media in Burma, I chose this degree to learn about the new media and the online audiovisual sector. I believe this degree will help me bridge my work with the international media as well, and I hope to make a documentary of my people one day. In the long term, I hope to become a journalist and explore new ways to diffuse information in South East Asia, and to build independent media in Burma as this has been my dream since the beginning.
I met Satkyar in 2013 when Connecting Myanmar had the first media training at YGN. He was a quiet young man, except when we discussed about politics. His knowledge about Burmese history and politics was impressive, and it got me thinking, this young man was too serious for his age!