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Burma's Future Perspectives and the Role of Women in Burmese Society

(This article expired 26.05.2013.)

May 24, 2012, 6:30 pm - The Embassy of the Czech Republic invites you to a special event focused on discussing the future perspectives of Burma and the role of women in Burmese society and public life.

Location: Embassy of the Czech Republic, 3900 Spring of Freedom Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008
R.S.V.P. to washington@embassy.mzv.cz, by May 23, 2012 | Please put “Burma Event” in the subject line.
For more information, please contact Jana Racova (jana_racova@mzv.cz, 202.274.9108)

The event is a part of the project Freedom of Expression in the Contemporary World, organized by the Embassy of the Czech Republic from February through May 2012.


Keynote speaker:

  • H.E. Melanne Verveer, United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues

Screening of 4 short Burmese videos:

  • Click in Fear
  • Burma: Sexual Violence as a Weapon
  • Voices of Shan Youth
  • A song and video in dedication to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all the brave women of Myanmar

Panel Discussion:

  • Kelley Currie, Senior Fellow, Project 2049 Institute
  • Myra Dahgaypaw, human rights activist and campaign coordinator, U.S. Campaign for Burma
  • Robert Herman, Vice President for Regional Programs, Freedom House
  • Moderated by Carl Gershman, President, National Endowment for Democracy

Freedom of Expression in the Contemporary World

The Embassy of the Czech Republic presents the project Freedom of Expression in the Contemporary World, which is dedicated to lifelong friends and symbols of the fight for democracy and freedom: the renowned Czech film director Miloš Forman and former Czech and Czechoslovak President Václav Havel. Running from February-May 2012, the project incorporates documentary screenings, panel discussions, exhibitions, and lectures focusing on the freedom of expression particularly in Burma, Belarus, and Cuba.         


Click in Fear, by SaiKyaw Khaing (13 min)

Click in Fear directed by DVB cameraman Sai Kyaw Khaing, was awarded the title of Best Short Documentary at the Art of Freedom Festival. For the film the director followed photojournalist Law Eh Soe’s work during the Saffron Revolution period in Burma in 2007; Sai Kyaw Khaing collected footage and conducted interviews on the Thai border with the photographer. The film tells the tale of a photographer who bravely documented the violent crackdowns on anti-government protesters in 2007. Law Eh Soe’s photos of protesting Buddhist monks were widely used by the international press. He was forced into exile in the US to avoid arrest.

Burma: Sexual Violence as a Weapon, Kachin Women's Association of Thailand (KWAT) (5 min.)

In conflict situations in ethnic minority states of Burma, rape is used as a psychological and physical weapon. Women from these communities under attack by state military have to deal with the threat of sexual violence on a frequent basis. 

Voices of Shan Youth
- Message from 2011 graduating class on social, justice and education program, School for Shan State Nationalities Youth (9 min):

The School for Shan State Nationalities Youth (SSSNY) was formed by a group of youth from Shan State in May 2001, and provides a social justice education program for youth to take an active role in the movement for social and political change. A group of students made this video to explain about issues in the Shan state right now.

A song and video in dedication to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all the brave women of Myanmar, by Thanthar Win (6 min.)


H.E. Melanne Verveer was appointed by President Barack Obama as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues in 2009. In her capacity as director of the Department of State’s new office on Global Women’s Issues, Ambassador Verveer coordinates foreign policy issues and activities relating to the political, economic and social advancement of women around the world. Ambassador Verveer most recently served as Chair and Co-CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international nonprofit she co-founded. Vital Voices invests in emerging women leaders and works to expand women’s roles in generating economic opportunity, promoting political participation, and safeguarding human rights. Prior to her work with Vital Voices, Ambassador Verveer served as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady in the Clinton Administration and was chief assistant to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton in all her wide-ranging international activities to advance women’s rights and further social development, democracy and peace-building initiatives. She also led the effort to establish the President’s Interagency Council on Women. Prior to her time in the White House, Ambassador Verveer served in a number of leadership roles in public policy organizations and as legislative staff. Ambassador Verveer has a B.A. and M.A. from Georgetown University. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Women’s Foreign Policy Group, and numerous other organizations.

Carl Gershman serves asPresident of the National Endowment for Democracy, a private, congressionally supported grant-making institution with the mission to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts. In addition to presiding over the Endowment’s grants program in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Latin America, he has overseen the creation of the quarterly Journal of Democracy, International Forum for Democratic Studies, and the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program. He also took the lead in launching in New Delhi in 1999 the World Movement for Democracy, a global network of democracy practitioners and scholars. Gershman is currently encouraging other democracies to establish their own foundations devoted to the promotion of democracy worldwide. Carl Gershman has lectured extensively and written articles and reviews on foreign policy issues for such publications as: “The Wall Street Journal,” “The Washington Post,” “The New York Times Magazine,”Commentary,” “The New Leader,” “The New Republic,” “Democratization,” “The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations,” “The Washington Quarterly,” and “Journal of Democracy.” He is co-editor of Israel, the Arabs and the Middle East and the author of The Foreign Policy of American Labor.

Kelley Currie is a Senior Fellow with the Project 2049 Institute, working on issues related to democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to joining Project 2049, Ms. Currie served as an Asia policy advisor to Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Paula Dobriansky. She has also served as senior advisor to the International Committee of the Red Cross; director of government relations for the International Campaign for Tibet; and deputy director for Asia at the International Republican Institute. From 1995-1999, Ms. Currie was foreign policy advisor to Congressman John Porter (R-IL), and concurrently served as the majority staff director of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. Ms. Currie received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs. She has appeared as an expert commentator on CNN and the BBC, and has written on Asia policy issues for national and international publications.

Myra Dahgaypaw is a human rights activist from Karen State, Eastern Burma.  She was an Internally Displaced Person for 12 years and a refugee for 17 years, until she fled to the United States. Due to the oppression, torture and killing by the Burmese SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council), which later named themselves SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) troops, Myra lost many of the people she knows, including, but not limited to, her own immediate family members, close relatives and close friends.  Myra started to become a passionate community organizer when she was thirteen years old. She has been a strong community organizer and a committed human rights advocate for over a decade and currently is engaged with various human rights issues in Burma.  After working as a Burmese human rights advocate at the United Nations for four years with the Burma Fund UN Office, Myra is now working as the campaign coordinator at the U.S. Campaign for Burma (USCB), an organization dedicated to empowering grassroots activists around the world to rally for human rights and to bring an end to the military dictatorship in Burma.

Robert Herman is vice president for regional programs at Freedom House, where he oversees a range of programs in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Eurasia.  He has more than twenty-five years of experience in democracy promotion and human rights. Before joining Freedom House he was Senior Technical Director for Democracy and Governance at Management Systems International. He was the co-founder and co-director of the Democracy Coalition Project, a global democracy promotion initiative of the Open Society Institute and previously served on the State Department's Policy Planning staff working on democracy and human rights and playing an instrumental role in launching the Community of Democracies, the first ever gathering of democratic states dedicated to strengthening democratic institutions, practices and values worldwide. As Senior Social Scientist with USAID's Bureau for Europe and the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union, Dr. Herman helped to craft U.S. assistance strategies to countries making the transition from communist rule. He has held positions with the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels and served as a staff member in the U.S. Congress