November 26, 2018  (Web Review)

Myanmar's Killing Fields

(2018) 60 min. DVD: $24.99 ($54.99 w/PPR). PBS Video (www.teacher.shop.pbs.org). SDH captioned. ISBN: 978-1-5317-0513-8.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Bangladesh is home to the world’s largest refugee camp—a testament to the ruthless, bloody ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) Rohingya Muslim minority at the hands of the country’s Buddhist Nationalists and powerful military. Filmmaker Patrick Wells’s PBS-aired Frontline documentary takes an unflinching look at the conflict. Although the Rohingya have lived in Myanmar for years, the trouble really began when a small, splinter group of Muslim insurgents attacked police checkpoints in the Northern Rakhine State. The Buddhists have long considered the Muslims as “illegals,” not citizens, and any distinction between civilians and terrorists were ignored in a campaign of state-sanctioned violence and systematic discrimination, which quickly escalated into mass rape and the indiscriminate killing of men, women, and children (all of which the government denies). The United Nations looked to leader, Nobel Laureate, and former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi for action, but quickly found that she dismissed reports of abuses, and denied U.N. access to Rohingya villages (some suggest that she was afraid of going up against the military). Combining footage from secretly-recorded videos together with eyewitness accounts, the film establishes a clear pattern of terror and atrocities, demonstrating the military’s zeal to complete the “unfinished business” of removing the Muslims. A mass exodus to Bangladesh is underway, where the Rohingyas languish with inadequate access to food, medicine, and housing. Featuring graphic footage and descriptions, this documentary shines a spotlight on yet another tragic human rights crisis. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (S. Rees)