In Ireland Today…#Right2Water Protest, So Many Things I Feel Weird About

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t planning on going to the protest until when on a luas into town, half the country got on at Heuston station and I thought, Ok, let’s go have a look. There are also lots of aspects of the whole debate i don’t know enough about to argue on whether we should or shouldn’t have them.

But there are things that seemed seriously wrong with how today went down that left me in shock. This does not feel like the country i thought i lived in. Forgive me for being melodramatic but it was too many ‘small’ things. I wasn’t seeing in reports online in mainstream media, of what i was actually seeing on the ground, (and i recognise that being in the midst of it would feel different anyway and accounting for that) so i’ve put together my little rant-list. And i’d like people to comment/tweet/whatever and correct me where i’m wrong or where i’ve missed things so i can feel less bothered about it all. Because i don’t want to believe any of these things were what they felt like.

Let’s start with what i do know about what’s wrong with Irish Water

1. We didn’t get our registration pack, so i actually emailed them to ask for it, being a nice little rule abiding person and actually just wanting a look at it. It took weeks and weeks for them to come back. This is an indicator that an organisation isn’t set up or running well. I understand business process management to some degree and in that context, this is a massive fail and as such, i would see it as a symptom of bigger problems with how it’s run internally. The data protection problems are another visible issue. So as an organisation, they’re already messing things up and slow to respond to someone who was going to sign up! Bananas. This is not a well managed system that is going to efficiently add all the water meters and fix all the leaks and give you great value for your ‘€3 per month.’ As i understand it, bigger problems are likely already embedded in the culture. What company in 2014 doesn’t have a data protection officer?! The hell. Anyways. Ranting.

2. Privatisation. I don’t really have any better points to make on this other than I’m just really not comfortable with water being privatised. At the moment Irish Water is a semi-state company i think. So they half care about you/enjoy some lovely government protection i’m sure, and half care about their shareholders. Could it be totally privatised? Fergus O’Dowd seems to think it’s a concern.

“Fergus O’Dowd said there was good reason to be concerned about the possibility of Irish Water being sold to private hands. The Fine Gael TD made his comments in the Dáil in the early hours of the morning, as TDs debated the Water Services Bill.

“We have reason to be concerned,” he said. “I am convinced there are other forces at work here – not necessarily political forces – that are active and they do have an influence.”  [Voldemort?]

He said he wanted a ban on privatisation to be included in previous legislation, but that proposal was deleted.”

Voldemort joke aside, that is the most corrupt looking sentence and it creeps me out.

This is what happened in Bolivia after they privatised water. They protested for four days. At that point water charges were already in place and after privatisation, increased by 50%. Here however, we are all of course thoroughly enjoying the privatisation of our waste collection! Which keeps increasing, getting worse and worse at actually collecting things, not even supplying enough bags to shops in greyhound’s case, replacing stickers with bags so that you can’t use a slightly bigger bag. Their bags are also nicely prone to breaking, because profits are important so don’t fork out on bags people can actually carry to their front door without them splitting. That’s what privatisation of something feels like i think. So imagine that but with water. And then there’s that awful documentary about what happened with the electric co being privatised somewhere? And they keep shutting off power on purpose to increase something…i have googled and googled and cannot find what i’m referring to to get details but it’s miserable and if someone else knows what i’m talking about let me know.

And now what was wrong with today…

My issues here are entirely separate to the actual water charges problem by the way. I guess it relates more to the importance of accurate reporting, and the rights to protest. And wondering who’s been told what to do and what not do do and by whom.

1. The numbers debate for attendance. Some people seemed to think the accurate reporting of numbers wasn’t important. I can’t count a group to save my life but I walked in the midst of crowds, jam packed from d’olier street up to merrion square and on my way back, there were as many still on their way. I have never seen anything like this in Dublin. And it continued for the day, before and after me. Accurate reporting of this in the media suddenly becomes very important if an attempt to play down the numbers is being made. The Gardai apparently refused to issue an estimate, which the person tweeting about this noted, was the first time he remembers them ever doing that. There were also no aerial shots. Who’d have aerial shots? RTE and the guards? Which brings be to number 2.

2. What were RTE reporting? That a ‘missile’ (a plastic bottle) had been thrown at a guard. When the protest was peaceful and friendly. The only bad behaviour i saw was some overly angry yelling and a kid who kicked over sign. The person behind him promptly put it back up.

3. Next. The inability for the media (incl. world media) to get a shot of the giant mass of protestors outside Leinster House/The Dail, because that street was closed. A scroll through twitter pictures will give you the impression there were people out in the streets. It does  not convey the kind of significance of the turnout on a WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, as a picture there would have. People politely yelled that they had a right to a peaceful protest. Guards responded that the protest was an ‘event’ that street was closed to that.

What?!

4. The incredibly weird riot police numbers. Rows and rows of them down Kildare street. For a protest that on the ground, was peaceful. This was awful for a few reasons. 1. It wasn’t necessary even IF a few people did kick off. A normal guarda presence would have been sufficient. 2. I think it actually made people more angry because it was so overly defensive. 3. It looked to other people like this was a dangerous place to be. I at no point felt unsafe and that included standing a few people away from the barriers on kildare street.

5. The incredibly regular ambulance sirens. These seemed to go by every 15-25 mins despite not seeing any injuries, fights, event potential injuries or marked tension. It would be very very suspicious to think they were told to go by with sirens every so often. That’s taking my scepticism too far. But….I didn’t see what they were for at any point.

6. The trending twitter thing. That was the weirdest. I realised none of the associated hashtags were trending and thought little of it other than it must be because there were a few different ones on the go. Until other people started to twig it as well. And then noted that top trending hashtags had tweets coming with significantly less regularity than one single water protest hashtag. It popped in at number 10 shortly after people started tweeting about the fact that it wasn’t trending. That was even weird. For the hours it had been going on before that, it was weird. Even if volume of other hashtags was greater over a greater length of time. ‘Foggy’ was apparently even trending despite the fact that it wasn’t foggy. Twitter is cool and all. But they like the tax deal here. I had weird imagined conversations in my head like, “Sorry Enda, we have to let them trend somewhere or we’ll ruin our rep. We’ll slot it in at 10, and give them 8 for a little while later.” “Alright lads. You know best.xxxx Enda. ps. please don’t leave me.”

7. Friends also noted the lack of reporting/decent reporting on Today FM, RTE Radio, RTE and the Irish Times.

 

 

Starting a Business Backwards – Five Year Plans Are Magic

Starting a business backwards is very important for success and happiness, despite how ridiculous it sounds.

Most people don’t go on holidays by packing a suitcase and walking out the door. You look up some destinations and book flights before thinking about what you’ll pack. Starting a business is the same and the method detailed below will help you map your route.

At the age of nineteen, watching daytime TV, I heard the statistic, “90% of people who write down their goals achieve them.” Whoever was discussing this, detailed a simple way to create a five year plan. It seemed like very little effort for potentially large gain and uncharacteristically, I did it. Much to my surprise, it worked.

Over the next five years I achieved about 95% of what I had aimed for. Since then, I’ve helped friends and family create plans in the same way. If you know what you want, it’s easy. If you don’t, it can be heartbreakingly difficult and I have no simple formula to fix that.

I consulted friends on this because I didn’t want to gloss over it. Knowing what you want from life is more important than the five year plan. Responses ranged from, “I suppose it’s whatever you’re passionate about” to “Just get up off your ass and find out!”

One of the most insightful thoughts shared was that sometimes people don’t realise that what they love can be what they do. If you love films, make films. It doesn’t matter how unrealistic your ideas seem – that’s what the plan is for.

So, if you don’t know what you want, finish this paragraph but don’t bother reading the rest of the article today. Schedule in twenty minutes this evening or tomorrow to go outside or get a coffee and think about what you love. Write down your thoughts and come back when you’ve done that. Have fun and hopefully see you later.

For those of you still here, grab a piece of paper because shit’s about to get real.

  1. Write down where you want your business to be in five years. Also write down things you want personally. As an example, let’s say I want to be living in a beach-house in France, earning enough to live on from writing three days a week and working on a book the other two days. I don’t want to be working weekends – I’m living in a beach house.
  1. Now plan year four. It’s hard to see how to get from today to your end goal but it’s easy to see what one step back from year five would be. Using the example above, year four may be to get two days of paid writing work a week and earn enough from any kind of work to save for a flight to France and a month’s rent and deposit.
  1. Try year three in the same manner. What’s one step back from what you need to achieve in year four?
  1. Year two is one step back from there. So for the goal I’ve established, this might be writing part time or full time, paid or unpaid, to gain experience and earning an income to save and live on.
  1. Year one. What do you need to do this year to arrive at your year two goals? It could be as little as taking a writing class once a week, starting a blog and submitting articles or stories to competitions and publications.

Year one becomes entirely un-intimidating yet perfectly relevant to where you want to be further down the line. Your personal strengths and weaknesses won’t go away, but with your plan laid out, your strengths will take you much further and your weaknesses become less consuming. Refer back to the plan once or twice a year, just in case you’ve forgotten something wonderful.

See you at the beach house.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues

“Americans knew for decades about the unfairness of segregation. But racial discrimination seemed a complex problem deeply rooted in the South’s history and culture, and most good-hearted people didn’t see what they could do about such injustices. Then along came Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. and the Freedom Riders, along with eye-opening books like John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me. Suddenly the injustices were impossible to look away from.”

“Government will act where our national interests are at stake; however, history has repeatedly shown that where our values are at stake, leadership must come from ordinary citizens like you.”

From ‘Half the Sky, How to Change the World’.

 

A week or two ago, for who knows what reason, i was struck with some pretty intense emotions about what was going on in Ukraine as well as some other parts of the world. I’m all for long-term solutions and understand that these are often a slow process. I feel it’s important to think and act local and that this has an impact on global issues. But this didn’t help in that moment. We’re exposed to everything and of course we care and of course we want to help. But all i could think was “What the hell do i do?” I had no idea and felt useless in the face of horror.

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When difficult issues are dealt with on tv, there is sometimes, or at least used to be, a message at the end saying, “If you’ve been affected by any of the issues dealt with, contact — .” But when we see urgent, difficult situations online, they don’t always come with instructions of what to do with that information. Re-sharing helps raise awareness so that is a good first step and who knows what the next person to see that video will do with the information. But if that doesn’t feel enough or you don’t want to bombard others with yet more troubling news, then what?

I contacted people who know better than me about what to do and asked them, “What, if anything, can i do from my desk or phone that actually might help, regardless of what type of issue or injustice it is that someone’s been affected by?” Below is what i’ve taken from the conversations and contributions.

1. Tweet @HumanRightsIRL

This is the Human Rights unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. As an institution, it is their job to contribute to international peace, security and human rights. You can view their strategy and principles here. Make them aware of what you know, ask them what they’re doing, put your voice out there. Every voice counts because lots of voices can make a difference. The entire dept. is on twitter as @dfatirl.

2. Email/Contact the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade

As above but for those who don’t use twitter or would rather make their action privately.

“If you’re complaining to a group or organisation, try to get a name to whom you wish to address your complaint. If you’re emailing your complaint, try to get the person’s email address rather than info@blahblahblah.ie.”
– Alison Nulty.

3. Contact an organisation or institution more specifically related to the issue

Email them, phone them or call in to them demanding change. And/or contact a related charity or organisation to it to see if they are doing anything that you can support. It could be as simple as a retweet or facebook post about an event.

4. Sign a petition

I used to think petitions were a bit useless. No idea why. They’re not useless. They help and they are very easy to sign. You could share it too. Don’t want to share it publicly and fill up your feed with bad news? Maybe send it to one or two people who might feel similarly. Google the issue you’ve been affected by with the word ‘petition’ to see if one exists or search sites like change.org.

5. Start a petition

Feeling strongly about something and no petition online for whatever the cause might be? Start one. It will take a bit of extra time to write up concisely and clearly what it is you want to change or call attention to, but you can do it. If you can’t, ask a friend, or ask me. Or maybe there’s a pro that would be happy to have a look over it or help? Many of us don’t know what to do about all these things, sometimes being asked to help in a specific way can be empowering for the person you’re asking and you.

6. “Connect with people, real people from areas that are in crisis”

“I now for example have some followers from Turkey – since the conflicts they had last year. The connections felt real as the people felt that genuine people, real people from across the globe are paying attention and truly care. I have sent my love and a simple thought of support before and… it makes a difference. A bridge forms and it’s nearly like holding hands…only that it’s from afar.”
– Andrea Wade

7. Contact your local councillors and TDs

Let them know about the situation, and ask them what they are doing as your elected representative. You can find council member’s contact details on your local authority website.  Most TDs have a website, where you can find an email/the address for their constituency office. You’ll also meet plenty of them in the coming months as they canvas for the local elections.  TDs also hold clinics around their constituency, where you can meet and discuss your issue.

8. “Some people (including me) find praying about a situation helps.”

I happen to feel the same but whether God exists or not, i reckon there’s probably something scientific in this – like the action of prayer or something similar may have a good effect on us physiologically thus helping us to make the best next decision? Taking a quiet moment to hope for and imagine something better and attempt to feel loving rather than angry is very, very healthy. Mindfulness helps you lower your cortisol levels, without affecting your testosterone levels – which helps you make decisions and carry out actions. If you want to fight ‘for’ things rather than ‘against’ things, something i think is ultimately a lot more productive, then taking a moment to chill and picture what a better version of this situation looks like, will help you figure out what you do to get there. You can call it whatever you like.

9. Some great organisations recommended in the book ‘Half the Sky, How to Change the World’

globalgiving.org and kiva.org – Both are ‘People to People (P2P) giving sites, meaning you can link directly to someone overseas. On Global Giving you can choose projects for health, education, disaster relief and many more. Kiva lets you microlend to individual entrepreneurs.

(9.a Get ‘Half the Sky, How to Change the World’ by Sheryl Wudunn and Nicholas D. Kristof. It’s a massive eye opener but also incredibly useful. I want to post all of it! It’s out there waiting for you, go get it.)

10. Contact a journalist

Email them a brief outline of your issue/complaint with copies of correspondence that you’ve written/received if you’ve already been working to resolve something, and give them contact details they can reach you on. You’ll also add weight to your issue, if you’re prepared to do an interview with them.

 

Five million thank yous to Patricia Rainsford, Andrea Wade, Alison Nulty, Emma Reilly and Emily Ghadimi for helping me put this together.xxxxx

And if you want to do one tiny thing today – try this

 

 

“Free the Christians” isn’t exactly a trendy slogan is it?

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Tonight i’m attending the second Human Rights Forum in the Baha’i centre and i think it’s a difficult one to just ‘share the event for’. Here’s why.

In a country that is at once very Catholic and at this point, probably equally anti-Catholic or anti-church, it is difficult to imagine caring about the persecution of Christians. “Are they persecuted? Are they not the ones carrying out A LOT of injustices??!”, may be what comes to mind.

The media frequently highlights negative aspects of Christianity, based of course on the most shocking aspects of what we’re told is ‘Christianity’, when what we are actually being presented with is a display of fundamentalism, fanaticism and fear. But it’s not just the media, in day to day life in Ireland and elsewhere, many face prejudice carried out in the name of God/Jesus/Christianity/Catholicism and the church. So why would we look upon Christians favourably and want to make sure they are not imprisoned and tortured based on their beliefs?

I’m sure I’m not the only person who knows plenty of people who call themselves Christian or Catholic, hold their beliefs and still accept and love everyone else for theirs too? The ‘Golden Rule’ of every religion and any pure heart has always been to “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” And no one should be imprisoned for living by that. It is everyone’s right to choose their beliefs and it is no one’s right to persecute.

It might not be trendy to want to “Free the Christians”, but the reality is that they are locked up in horrible conditions all over the world and that’s not ok at all actually. You can find out more by coming along this evening if you wish but i wanted to highlight the organisation either way. I know very little so far, but if it turns out all the people locked up did horrible nasty things and deserve to be in prison, I will come back and let you know.

Event Facebook Page >

Find out more about the work of Church in Chains>

And put this Ted talk on your list of things to watch some day when things are quiet and you have time>

I am not Ukrainian

You may have seen this video on facebook about what’s happening in Ukraine and why. You may have shared it so other people know. I watched it and didn’t know what to do.

Then today I saw this one, of what’s happening the protestors there today. It looked like it might as well have been as close as outside my own window. I don’t know what to do. I also realised I wouldn’t know what to do if it was in fact, outside my own window.

During the week i saw this petition about Operation Zeus in Greece going around and signed it and also didn’t know what else to do. What do you do?

For now I’m chatting to someone who’s helping me with things I can do, but i thought it might be good to share with others. Everything looks a bit crazy and lots of people don’t know what to do.

A Shift in the Arts: Richard Mosse’s ‘The Enclave’, Calling Attention to the Self & the Whole

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I went to see the Enclave because the images were seductive. I went thinking that it was a smart idea visually and that he had probably missed the sincerity of the concept behind it but I felt compelled to see it either way. On entering the RHA you’re greeted by a little sign saying you can exchange your email address for a free poster. I thought, “Cool”, took a picture and said to myself, “I must tweet that later.” Well, you probably won’t give a damn about that poster, your email address or tweeting when you’re leaving.

The show begins with three huge photos, so rich that they look almost 3D, especially when you go very close. They’re intricate and detailed. The room is (obviously) clean, bright, white and quiet. The combination of this and the huge images provides a meditative moment, or at least it did for me. I appreciated this, but did not see the cruciality of it until later. In quiet contemplation and admiration, but ultimately alone, you are with yourself, at a great distance from the big world you look upon. For me, this also created an openness that resulted in being more receptive to the video installation. If this is an accident, I’m confident it arose from sincerity of purpose on Mosse’s part.

The video installation is 39 minutes long so give yourself a good amount of time if you’re going. A friend felt she could only handle a certain amount of it at a time, allow for this too. It’s difficult, that’s perfectly fine.

There are six screens, suspended in a dark room. Sometimes there is video on all six, at other times just a few. There is different things happening on each of the screens for a lot of it. It is near impossible to not be in the way of a projector and casting a shadow, or for someone else to be if you are not. You become very aware of your’s and others’ affect on the space. You cast your shadow on the Congo and are part of it. It’s also hard to see everything that’s going on, because of the placement of the screens. It’s disconcerting.

The content is brutal. I cried and I think that’s pretty justified but interestingly, the videos are neither manipulative nor particularly emotive in their presentation. Even the footage of of the kids, and the sounds of a young woman singing, is somehow presented so flatly that it does not tug on heart strings the way these things can be used to do. None of it feels ‘used’ to create a particular response. I don’t know how Mosse did this. It’s beyond me. That is almost harder than to aim for a particular response. But it makes the experience powerful and clear. It feels like he had no motivation but to present the reality to you and allows the response to be entirely your own.

Mosse’s aim was to rethink war photography and he did it. Philosopher Alain De Botton recently noted that photographic journalists are too expensive so it’s essentially left out of our news. Mosse may have made something that fills that gap. But instead of sitting under yet another attention seeking, sales-driving headline, the pinkness of it all gives it permission to sit in the gallery, escaping context that could negatively affect the work.

The first question I was struck with watching it is, “What are we doing?” The next thing that hit me was the realisation that this is happening in a place that is much closer to me, geographically, than my sister in Australia. These people are not so far from us and they’re entangled in an incredibly complex web of violence and politics. Lastly, the inevitable questions that always come back, what do I do? What is my responsibility in all of this? I come back to the same answers for myself time and time again. But it’s vital for art, films, people etc. to get us to re-examine these questions and answers constantly. If you’re not doing that, you have lost touch with reality and sit a stagnant puddle. Birds may have a little bath in you and children may splash about, but overall, you’re cloudy and probably going to evaporate away without having served much purpose.

My one criticism, being the incredibly fussy bitch that I am, is that Mosse didn’t find a way to reconcile examining the self next to examining the self’s relationship to the whole in one piece. The two rooms are distinctly separate. The photos do one thing. The video does another. While I can see how in a simple way, this is much clearer, I would love to have seen the complex concept of the self being of equal importance to the whole, resolved in one work. If I’m not explaining this concept well, a nice analogy is that communism favours the group while capitalism favours the individual. The right answer is not one or the other but the simultaneous functioning of both. It’s not clear cut but we’re actually smart enough to understand that and I’d love to have seen that resolved here as the work comes so close to that concept, whether that was intended or not.

The Enclave was the second of three things I’ve seen in the arts in recent months that seem to indicate the chaos, confusion and calculation of postmodernism has begun to distill into something new, coherent, exciting and beautiful that will serve us very well. I think it’s too early to put a name on it or say exactly how, but it looks like it will be as complex as the last hundred years or so of postmodernism, but with greater purpose, poignancy and may fulfill the very real needs of a global society that owns a greater sense of awareness than our world has ever seen before. This is not to say that individual works have not been achieving this up until now, but i think the shift is going to become noticeable on a grand scale.

And fair play to the artists who stuck it out. I opted out (of the art world) because I found it so distressing but each of you have been contributing to the boiling point it needed to reach, on multiple levels, in order to get here. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticing this. I can only imagine it’s appearing everywhere simultaneously, as these things tend to do. In the mean time, go see The Enclave. Bring a biro and a notebook and get yourself a hot chocolate afterwords or meet someone who’s good for chats and a hug.

#Capesummit at the Web Summit Dublin 2013 – An Explanation and the Pictures!

Firstly, though she doesn’t feature as a solo cape character anywhere (yet), this post is dedicated to the wonderful Eilis Boyle who was the reason i got to go to the Web Summit and thus the reason you all got capes :)

On the tuesday evening before the summit, i was at home drinking soup and watching everything summity starting to kick off on Twitter. I noticed the ‘liveteam’ hashtag, which was a group selected to tweet various events and activities over the two days of the summit and what a job they did! Not only were they helpful to people attending the conference, but they shared live information, facts, ideas, experiences and statistics with everyone outside of the conference who logged on to twitter too. I thought ‘liveteam’ sounded a little like a superhero crew, so i checked if they had capes. They didn’t. But there was some definite interest in getting some, and so the madness began.

I drew capes on most liveteam members that got in touch and tried to make them at least a little relevant or personal and i drew a few of my favourite speakers too. The capes were for fun and unplanned. There was nothing i hoped to get out of it, but seeing people enjoying them was so cool. Thanks for being part of the fun and thanks for all making the Web better each and every day.

Get ready to scroll, there’s a lot of them ;)

@elvacarri

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Myanmar

What’s the Situation in Burma? In Simple Language & From the Beginning.

I recently attended the Human Rights Forum in the National Baha’i Centre. The first of these forums was led by Keith Donald, chairperson of Burma Action Ireland – an entirely volunteer run organisation. You can read up on the evening and their work on bahai.ie soon. What I’ve written up below is the history and current situation of Burma, (also known as Myanmar or as The Republic of the Union of Myanmar) as told to us by Keith on the evening. He specified that he hadn’t studied Burma as a scholar might, but that some of it had rubbed off on him over time. Knowing very little about Burma myself before attending the evening, I loved how simply Keith was able to put it and thought I would share this with you.

I also wanted to share information on the situation because they lack so much of the freedoms I frequently take for granted. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Burma is one of the thirty worst countries in the world when it comes to the freedom of the press, which makes it even more vital that people outside of Burma continue to bring awareness to this fact. 

Burma Action Ireland

Burma was occupied by the Japanese in World War 2 and when they lost, it reverted to the British. Aung San, Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, started the Burmese army while the British were still there and negotiated independence from the British in the late 40s. For this, he is a hero to the Burmese people. He was assassinated in the early fifties.

There was democracy in Burma for less than a decade, at which point the generals who ran the army, decided they wanted to also run the country. These astute and strategic men took over. They think long term, they don’t think about human rights, they don’t think about democracy, they think about running the country the way they want and that’s what they did from the outset. They suppressed political parties, they suppressed free speech, they suppressed the media. And they began a very carefully contrived strategy to ignore the western world and to engage with their two huge neighbours; India and China.

Burma is intrinsically valuable due to its huge mineral wealth and many rivers which can provide hydro electric power. Burma’s big powerful neighbours wanted to get to what was under the ground and cut deals with the generals.

People were suppressed on a regular basis, and persecution of the monks and ‘free thinkers’ persisted. So, in 1988, university students decided to take to the streets in protest. The Burmese army reacted with bullets, killing 3,000.

The world’s reaction to this put pressure on the generals. So, they said they would hold elections and give their country democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi, who had recently returned to Burma from the UK, founded a political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and her party won 80% of the votes – a landslide victory that scared the generals. They reacted by suppressing the political party and putting Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. She didn’t get to be a parliamentarian for a single day. She was under house arrest for most of the next 16/17 years.

The next major event was when the monks took to the streets in what was called the ‘Saffron Revolution’, five or six years ago. Once again, the generals reacted with violence and once again the attention of the world’s media put pressure on the generals.

This time the generals agreed to have a parliament. However, half of the generals resigned from the army and ran for election in the parliament and both the parliament and constitution were set up to ensure the generals still held the power, but now under a different name and in a way that on first glance, would appear to be democratic.

What’s difficult about the situation now, is that the world thinks that because Aung San Suu Kyi is free, and a ‘democratic parliament’ is in place, that everything is going to be fine. This is far from the case. 

In Keith’s word’s

“Its slow work. Sometimes we think we’re making advances, sometimes not. The work that goes on behind the scenes is trying to influence Irish politicians to try and influence politicians in Brussels and that’s constant work and it’s unseen. Occasionally we get out into the streets with placards. Occasionally we run gigs. We ran one last year to tell people about two people that were locked up and had been for quite some time, a musician and a poet. Who have since been released.” 

Find our more about Burma Action Ireland and how you can get involved or support their work at the link below. Many thanks to Keith for an excellent evening and the work his organisation carries out.

www.burmaactionireland.org
www.bahai.ie