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Culture: Burmese poet Aung Soe Min

A black and white photograph of people holding signs, with the text ‘Madness cannot be allowed to write history. If so, the surface of the world will be the fireground of hell.’ superimposed at the bottom of the photo.

A quotation from ‘Call of Freedom’ by Aung Soe Min.

Call of Freedom
Aung Soe Min

Wake up India
Wake up World
Wake up Myanmar
Wake up for us, for Myanmar.

Oh India,
When we were enslaved in one colony
We carried the same burden
We strode the same road to independence.
Your land was famous for passion for freedom
Open air for free thinking
That’s why you brought so many gods to enlighten earth.
Now you have become the largest nation of democracy.

We will not forget
The path to rescue Burma from the hands of the Fascists
Was made from your land.

It cannot be forgotten,
How you helped our country as the Yangon government defended
Our new democracy and independence
Barely standing upright with the wounds of civil war.
Oh true friend of Myanmar
It cannot be forgotten
How you rallied to our side.

We founded our nation as a democracy
Since independence
But abuse by military dictators
Was fated as our stars faded.
The country was paralyzed,
Our bare neck under the naked blade
Of their bloody oppression,
The blade of their lies, their exploitation.

Now we are dazed,
In between the worlds largest dictatorship
And the worlds largest democracy.
Don’t let the values of humanity fall,
The dignity of rationality, diversity,
And clear consciousness
Under the lethal weapons of senseless tyranny.

We aimed to be build our country
As an arch of democracy, like India.
Our nation will be built to be home to smart generations,
Who will light up the world.

Wake up world!
Not for nothing
Did the world became a village.
Its not a village for self-interested materialism.
The village brought our fates close together
The fingertips will hurt
When the fingernails pinch.
All humanity is threatened
When the climate warms.
We are tied together facing it down.
The duty lies in the individual.
Whatever threatens the interdependence of diversity
Is a clear crisis to the bloodline of history.
Madness cannot be allowed to write history.
If so, the surface of the world will be the fireground of hell.
Cruelty between humans will be extinguished
Under the earths guardianship of righteousness.
Human wisdom is the shelter of dignity.
We humbly apologize to the world
For giving birth to the insult to the holy human existence and meaningfulness.

Our land should give birth to sages, scholars, artists and heroes
But because of the contemptible dictatorship
We have not been able to contribute them to the world.
That is why we are a country of shame.
Don’t lock us out of the village
Mistaking us for evil, or for evils mates.
Don’t make us sleep in the depths of darkness.
Wake up, Myanmar.
The light shines brighter in the dark.
May The love of truth splashes light on our country.

A photograph of Aung Soe Min, who has grey hair and is wearing a grey shirt, and is standing with arms crossed. Behind Aung Soe Min is a photograph of a white flower and green stems and leaves.

Aung Soe Min.

About Aung Soe Min

Aung Soe Min (born November 1970) is a Burmese poet, musician, publisher, artist, magazine editor, film director and gallerist living and working in Yangon, Myanmar. He is an Open History Project Director and will start an Open History Archive and Museum of Myanmar Visual History in Mt. Popa. Aung Soe Min is known for his artistic advocacy and attempts to fight against censorship and for freedom of expression. His projects include the Pansodan Gallery and Archives (founded in 2008), Pansuriya (an art centre and restaurant), and Pansodan Scene (an exhibition and performance space). Alongside Nance Cunningham, he authored a Burmese-English, English-Burmese dictionary. He is also the author of articles, poems, short stories, and essays published in magazines.

A colour photograph of a group of people holding candles.

A candlelight vigil.

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