Five years ago I went to a very small DIY Film festival in Hamburg and saw a documentary about punks in Myanmar. Until this point I had no idea where Myanmar was. I found out that it’s a country in South East Asia, full of beautiful temples and a melting pot for all kinds of religions and that it was ruled by the British from 1824 to 1948 until in 1962 the military took over. Since then, there is an ongoing confliction between the military and various ethnic groups. Some people would call it another never ending civil war. The latest clash that made it to the media was the Genocide of the Rohingya people. By being in town I found out that it’s not the only ethnic minority community that is currently being wiped out in the country. Where these incidents occur, there is no media allowed. Local journalists and photographers get thrown into prison. The situation is tense. Finding out about the local punk scene was very surprising and left me amazed. Being a Punk in Myanmar is tough and an act of rebellion in itself. During my first travel to Myanmar I managed to find the punks and ended up becoming friends with Kyaw Kyaw.
Kyaw Kyaw is the frontman of Rebel Riot, a Burmese Punk band that started back in 2007 during the Saffron Revolution in Yangon, Myanmar. Their songs address social injustices, critique politics and offer analysis of religious issues. Through their lyrics, they speak out for people suffering from poverty, violence and civil war. The Punk scene in Yangon is very young and small, but strong in its messages and actions. Although they have always had to face repression, insecurity and violence, they lend their voice to minorities. Next to DIY shows they are active in social projects such as Food Not Bombs and Books not Bombs.
On the 08.04.2018 Kyaw Kyaw invited me to take photos of a self-organized concert at a bar called Pirate Bar. The energy of the show was unreal. All these kids coming together to say the things you can’t say without getting into trouble. The venue became an outlet for the pent-up anger living in an oppressed country. Observing the burmese punk scene fighting for their freedom and peace by organizing shows and social projects like this left me with much appreciation.