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James Mackay April 5, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Burma, Myanmar.
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“Generation Wave” outside Insein Prison. Rangoon. Burma 2012

James Mackay (b.1970 England) is a documentary photographer based in South East Asia and the UK. He studied at Central St Martin’s College of Art & Design in London and has worked extensively, often undercover, in Burma documenting humanitarian and political issues in the military controlled country. His long-term project on Burma’s political prisoners was selected as part of the Open Society Foundation’s ‘Moving Walls 19’ and has recently been published as a book ‘Abhaya – Burma’s Fearlessness’. His work has published in: The New York Times, The Independent, The Guardian, Le Monde, Vogue UK and Vogue Japan as well as by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. He is currently working in Burma as the country goes through historic political change.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph was taken outside the notorious Insein prison in Rangoon early in the morning of Friday 13th January 2012, Wearing t-shirts demanding the release of political prisoners, members (and colleagues of mine) of the once outlawed student organization, ‘Generation Wave’, line up waiting in anticipation for the release of said political prisoners, including more than 14 from their group jailed for their political activities. In a country where for decades most people have lived a life of fear, too afraid to speak out and where thousands have been jailed for their political beliefs, euphoria erupted in Rangoon on that historic day as prominent opposition leaders and political dissidents including the famed ‘88 Generation Students’ were freed from prison under a presidential amnesty.”

“I spent much of the following week with the 88 Generation Students, documenting them as they re-grouped and also with Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD party as they started out on the road towards bringing change to the country that has now been so visible in the past few weeks with the landslide victory in the recent bi-elections in Burma. For years I have been documenting Burma and in particular it’s political prisoners and whilst caution is needed now more than ever as the country takes small but bold steps towards democratic reform, to be there at the precise time that history unfolded with the release of so many prominent political prisoners and at the time that the seeds of change were starting to be sowed was both remarkable fortune and an incredible experience.”