FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM
DVB English News sat down for a Q&A with Myanmar documentary filmmaker Maung Moe to discuss his film for the 2023 DVB Short Docs competition called “Along the River.”
DVB: I just watched your documentary that is also included in the DVD Short Docs film competition. Can you explain more about it?
MM: The film is called Along the River. This is a story about Myanmar refugee camps along the Thai border. There are two main rivers, the Salween and Moei River. Moei is the Thaungyin River in Burmese. So after the coup, because of the conflict, there were a lot of camps. There are a lot of internally displaced persons (IDP) camps along these two rivers.
There are also nine existing refugee camps in Thailand since before the 2021 coup. So those camps were here for more than 30 years. This is how the situation of refugee camps and displacement camps along the border, on both sides of these rivers.
DVB: In the documentary, you interview a lot of people and you visited a lot of refugee camps. Did you have any challenges to travel to the refugee camps or to interview with people?
MM: In the last two years I’ve been monitoring the situation of refugees crossing the river in and out of Myanmar. For that work, it is impossible. For me, I would do this documentary alone by myself. You know, there are many local journalists, there are many local activists, and local resources.
They have been helping me out for the last two years. I traveled to these locations a couple of times in the last two years. I really appreciate those local journalists and local activists who were helping me out. Some people I cannot name. But they’re really helpful. People do not know that these people exist. I also had no idea about it.
But my interest is in all the border. Since the conflict intensified, let’s say October 2021, like 6-8 months after the coup, I started monitoring the border, how people are coming in or coming out, crossing the river, you know?
Then I realized that there were people living in the bushes next to the river and they are also refugees. There were already 90,000 Myanmar refugees in Thailand since before the coup.
[The] Myanmar military has the reputation of committing all these violent atrocities against ethnic minorities, so they’ve had to flee their homes and villages and have lived in those camps in Thailand. They are not allowed to leave the camps. They’ve been stuck in the camp for two to three generations.
*This interview is edited for brevity and clarity. To listen to the entire interview, check out DVB Vox Pop. Maung Moe’s film will broadcast on Nov. 28. The Vox Pop podcast interview will be available Nov. 13. DVB English News is available wherever you get your podcasts.