Saturday, April 4, 2009


I wear a brown suit,
from a brown box,
which I received on a day I will never forget,
April 4th, 2007
the day when Tayza Yeelin, U Han Lin’s son, told me his father had
stage four lung cancer,
under a concrete arch, that boldly states,
Roy H. Park School of Communications,
I knew that destiny was unfolding all around me,
my world turned upside down,
I became a different person,
no more concerns of my own ideological bullshit that added up to
100% of my distraction,
I had only months till my mentor,
my teacher,
was going to pass away...

A promise can be a sacred oath, a turning point if you will,
see, years ago, in 1988 in the jungles of Burma, U Han Lin,
made a promise with a band of brothers,
the promise,
to find help, any help because the peaceful uprising turned into a massacre,
the next morning,
though the sun rose and the light shinned down upon U Han Lin,
darkness fell upon his band of six brothers,
murdered by the military Junta.

That promise stayed in his heart,
and with the rhythm of a circle of 50 Million Hostages,
pounding, crying, dying to stop an endless war,
U Han Lin, carried on,
He carried that promise with him till he and his family were safe out of Burma.
He carried that promise with him walking from Washington D.C. to the United Nations.
He carried that promise with him as he starved himself for 18 days until a representative from the United Nations promised him that Burma would be put on the agenda.

When looking back at his years of long marches and hunger strikes U Han Lin looked into my brown eyes and asked me to make film about this promise that must be kept.
Suddenly, when I close my eyes I can still see his smile, his tired eyes that have seen too much injustice in his homeland, Burma.
Too much injustice, from the Irrawaddy Delta to the Shan State to the Karen Communities, to the villages that are taken by military fire,
and when I describe the fire, I refer to the fire of ethnic cleansing,
the fire of land mines, placing,
the fire of women, raping,
the fire of villagers, enslaving,
the fire of children, soldiering,
the fire of an egotistical, malicious, cancerous, dictator,
the fire of Senior General Than Shwe.
Yes, this is the fire of a man who should be fired.
Fired from his years of harassment,
Fired from his days of torture,
Fired from his way of lying to the international community as well as his own,
Fired from the leadership which he stole from a nobel peace prize winner,
Down with this man’s evil ways,
Send him to the International Criminal Court,
Send him to the halls of Justice,
Put him before those who know right from wrong.

Power has corrupted that man and he has corrupted the predominately Buddhist country, Burma.

I promise you dear friends this is my life’s quest,
not only to seek justice in Burma,
but also to honor the man who taught me about the Buddhist way and nonviolent resistance.

Brown is a color I have learned to love,
it is the color of the soil in which flowers grow,
it is the color of the trees which help me breathe,
it is the color of my fellow brother and sister,

April 4th, for me was a day I will never forget,
History will never forget this day as well,
you see on this day we lost our greatest King,
Martin Luther King Jr.
A nonviolent resistor to the war,
a war that was inflicted upon his fellow brothers and sisters,
and yes that King taught us all the way,
from the March from Selma to Montgomery, to his days in Birmingham Jail,
well my dear friends there is a Queen that lives today,
a Queen that is beautiful, nonviolent, and an elected leader of the free,
but that Queen, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, she is still in jail,
Incarcerated in her own home.
for 13 of the past 19 years,
she waits and waits and waits,
but still we are all silent in the night,
we enjoy our cars, our computers, our cameras,
and keep expecting that change will come on it’s own,
change does not come unless you make change,
be change,
“We shall overcome,”
but we can not do it alone.
“We shall all be free,”
but we are waiting in bondage of slavery,
“We shall all overcome, someday”
but that day will not, and can not happen without you’re help,
for now I need you to make that same promise,
that you will find help for the people of Burma.

“Please use your liberty to promote ours.”

For tomorrow is never an excuse why not to act today.

As Jackson Brown once proclaimed for the people of Burma,
“It’s time to speak for those who can’t.”

Copyright 2009 by Jeffrey Karl Hellman

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