International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR)

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Wednesday, 24 January 2024

Release Shin Daewe!

Urgent Call for the Release of Myanmar filmmaker Shin Daewe

Shin Daewe, one of Myanmar’s pioneering female documentary filmmakers, has been sentenced for life by a prison court for violating the counter-terrorism law by possessing a drone.

She was arrested at a bus station in Yangon on 15 October 2023 when soldiers found a filming drone in her luggage. It then took the Myanmar authorities almost three months to bring the case to trial on 10 January 2024. She was allowed no legal representation during the closed trial of a military tribunal and was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment. 

A family source states: “Our family simply wishes to see her resume her work as usual. We eagerly await the day when our sister will return home.“ and appeals for her prompt release. 

As a student, Shin Daewe was involved in protests in the 8888 Uprising*. She was jailed for one month in 1990 and for one year in 1991 for her involvement in demonstrations. 

Having worked as a video journalist with the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) between 2005 and 2010, Shin Daewe reported on the 2007 Saffron Revolution and contributed to the documentary BURMA VJ, which exposed the wider national and international public to the power of documentaries and was nominated for the European Film Awards 2009.

As an internationally established filmmaker, Shin Daewe has repeatedly shed a light on social and political issues in her country.

One of Shin Daewe's most renowned works is her 2008 documentary AN UNTITLED LIFE, which follows the story of the painter Rahula from Mingun, a village on Ayeyarwaddy River near Mandalay. Her film TAKE ME HOME, which is a story about ethnic Kachin villagers who were displaced by conflict in northern Myanmar, won Myanmar’s Wathann Film Festival. Another title is A BRIGHT FUTURE (2009) depicts the story of Phaung Daw Oo Monastic Education High School in Mandalay and won the Best Documentary award at the Art of Freedom Film Festival in Myanmar 2009.

In 2013, Shin Daewe directed a 15-minute documentary titled NOW I AM 13, which depicts the struggles of a teenage girl from central Myanmar who was deprived of educational opportunities due to poverty. This documentary earned her the Silver Award at the Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival and the Award for Best Documentary at the Wathann Film Festival in 2014.

Deeply worried about her health and well-being, the ICFR stands with Shin Daewe and all those in Myanmar who stand up for their basic human rights and the freedom of expression and call on the Myanmar authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Shin Daewe. We encourage all film and culture institutions around the world to do the same, and invite them to share the link to her film NOW I AM 13 wherever possible.

International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk
International Film Festival Rotterdam
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
European Film Academy 

*The 8888 Uprising (Burmese: ၈၈၈၈ အရေးအခင်း), also known as the People Power Uprising and the 1988 Uprising, was a series of nationwide protests, marches, and riots in Burma (present-day Myanmar) that peaked in August 1988. Key events occurred on 8 August 1988 and therefore it is commonly known as the "8888 Uprising"

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