Unreported World – Burma: The Village that Took on the Generals: Review

Unreported World – Burma: The Village that Took on the Generals

7.30pm, Friday December 21st, C4

Evan Williams and director Wael Dabbous travel to the small Burmese village of Wet Hmay in this episode of Unreported World. The villagers there are fighting for the preservation of their homes and their way of life as mining companies flatten the nearby mountain range extracting copper.

We get a sense of how things are changing for Burma and its people, but yet how far they still have to go. Since emerging from a 50 year long military dictatorship, many are reaping the benefits and freedoms that are now slowly being established, while many others still are facing the threats of big business.

The village of Wet Hmay is facing just such a crisis. The mining company has already turned 3 of the nearby mountains to rubble in a range that began with 33. The plan is to flatten them all in the search for copper whilst they dump the waste products on the villagers’ land and farms.

At least half of the village has been relocated to another town, but the rest have resisted intimidation and threats and remained to fight for the preservation of their history and their future.

We follow the lives of Aye Net and Thwe Thwe and their family and friends as they organise the campaign against the mine and the Generals of Burma that allow it. They are gaining support and, where they once may have been imprisoned for many years, the changes in the political structures of Burma have allowed them a limited amount of free speech.

However, the campaign is still a great struggle and even with support they risk their life with every protest.
Williams and Dabbous adopt an impassive style of documentary: they seek to watch and give us the facts rather than their opinions. The mining companies and their tactics are indeed seen as the big bad wolf of the story, but we are left to our own thoughts as to the balance of history and traditionalism over industry and sustainability for the future.

It is an interesting documentary that will get you thinking, but isn’t too heavy at only 30 minutes long. Not the cheeriest of programmes considering its only a few days to Christmas, but excellent if you’re looking for an educational escape from the endless Christmas specials and the random films that think that shoving the word ‘Christmas’ into a title make it watchable once a year.