History of Myanmar
1057 - King Anawrahta founds the first unified Burmese state at Pagan (Bagan). He also adopts Theravada Buddhism
1287 - Kublai Khan and his Mongols conquer Pagan
1531 - Burma is reunited by the Toungoo dynasty
1824-26 – At the end of the first Anglo-Burmese war, Burma hands over to British India the Arakan coastal strip
1852 - Second Anglo-Burmese war: Britain annexes lower Burma, including Rangoon
1885-86 – Britain captures Mandalay and the whole of Burma becomes a province of British India
1937 - Burma is separated from India and becomes a crown colony
1942 - Japan occupies Burma, with the support of Japanese-trained Burma Independence Army. Later on, BIA will become the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League, that will fight against the Japanese rule under the leadership of Aung San
1945 - Britain, supported by AFPFL, liberates Burma from Japanese occupation
1947 - Aung San and six members of his government are assassinated by political opponents
1948 - Burma becomes independent
Mid-1950s – Burma, India, Indonesia, Yugoslavia and Egypt co-found the Movement of Non-Aligned States
1962 - Military coup led by General Ne Win. The “Burmese way to socialism” begins: the federal system is scrapped, the economy is nationalized. Only one party is allowed, the Socialist Programme Party. Independent newspapers are banned
1975 - Minority groups at regional level, organized in guerrilla insurgencies, get together in the Opposition National Democratic Front
1987 - Anti-government riots are sparked by dramatic currency devaluation
1988 - Thousands of people are killed in anti-government riots, the so-called 8888 Uprising. The State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) is formed. The opposition gathers around the figure of Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, and her National League for Democracy (NLD)
1989 - Slorc declares martial law, arrests thousands of people. Burma is renamed Myanmar, Rangoon becomes Yangon. Aung San Suu Kyi is put under house arrest
1990 - NLD wins a landslide victory in general election, but the result is ignored by the military
1991 - Aung San Suu Kyi is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
1999 - Aung San Suu Kyi rejects ruling council conditions to visit her British husband, Michael Aris, who dies of cancer in UK
2001 Ruling council releases some 200 pro-democracy activists. Government says releases reflect progress in talks with opposition NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi who remains under house arrest
2004 January – Government and Karen National Union – most significant ethnic group fighting government – agree to end hostilities
2004 May – Constitutional convention begins, despite boycott by National League for Democracy (NLD)
2007 September – Buddhist monks hold a series of anti-government protests. In her first public appearance since 2003, Aung San Suu Kyi is allowed to leave her house to greet monks demonstrating in Rangoon
2007 October – Normality returns to Rangoon amid heavy military presence. Monks are absent, after thousands are reportedly rounded up
2008 April – Government publishes proposed new constitution, which allocates a quarter of seats in parliament to the military and bans Aung San Suu Kyi from holding office
2008 May – Cyclone Nargis hits the Irrawaddy delta. Estimates put the death toll as high as 134,000. Referendum on new constitution proceeds amid humanitarian crisis. The government refuses foreign help and claims 92% voted in favor of draft constitution
2008 November – Dozens of political activists given sentences of up to 65 years in series of secretive trials
2008 December – A deal with four foreign firms to pipe natural gas into neighbouring China is signed, despite protests from human rights groups
2009 January – Thailand expels hundreds of members of Burma’s Muslim Rohingya minority who appeared off its coast. Burma denies the minority’s existence
2010 November – Main military-backed party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), claims resounding victory in first election for 20 years. The election is widely condemned as a sham. The junta claims it marks the transition from military rule to a civilian democracy. A week after the election, Aung San Suu Kyi – who had been prevented from taking part – is released from house arrest
2011 March – Thein Sein is sworn in as president of a new, nominally civilian government
2011 November- San Suu Kyi says she will stand for election to parliament, as NLD rejoins the political process
2012 April – NLD candidates sweep the board in parliamentary by-elections, with Aung San Suu Kyi elected. The European Union suspends all non-military sanctions against Burma for a year
2012 August – A commission is set up to investigate violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in the west, in which dozens have died. Burma abolishes pre-publication media censorship
2012 November – Around 90 people are killed in communal violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. Barack Obama visits to offer American “friendship” in return for more reforms as well as reconciliation with the Rohingya Muslim minority
2013 March – Clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in Meiktila, south of Mandalay, leave at least 10 people dead
2013 April – Four private daily newspapers appear for the first time in almost 50 years
2014 May – US extends some sanctions for another year, saying that despite the recent reforms, rights abuses and army influence on politics and the economy persist
2014 July – Violent clashes between Buddhist and Muslim groups in Mandalay leave two casualties and several injured. The government introduces a curfew in town
In October, 2014 a mixed group of journalists, photographers, activists and intellectuals from all over Myanmar gathered in Mandalay, the second biggest city in the country, around the project Together for Burma.
During the four-weeks workshop, the participants learnt the basic skills of documentary script writing and film making. From script writing to shooting, The Green Mirror is the product of the minds and eyes of a very heterogeneous crew, with different skills and backgrounds (some of them had never used a camera before, and none had ever been involved in documentary making). In a collective creative effort, they shared ideas and competencies in order to produce a documentary that would tackle the issue of ethnic and religious coexistence in Myanmar.
Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country, with Muslims estimated to account for about 5% of the population. Other religious minorities include Christians and Hindus.
In July 2014, Mandalay was the theater of violent clashes between Muslim and Buddhist communities. The city is home to the controversial monk Ashin Wirathu, the spiritual leader of the anti-muslim movement in Myanmar.
The Green Mirror – Today In Mandalay is a tale of this city and its many souls. The jade market was chosen by the “crew” as a symbol of a whole society, with its struggles and challenges, but also its resilience and hope for the future.
The jade market is therefore a microcosm that mirrors the dynamics and patterns of a much broader structure. It is a stage inhabited by many characters, which embody the driving forces of the society revolving around it.
The Green Mirror aims at getting the viewers involved in a debate about the possibility and, indeed, the need of a multiethnic and multicultural coexistence. The documentary becomes therefore an educational tool for journalists and activists alike, joining hands in the effort to build a democratic, peaceful and prosperous society in Myanmar.
It is estimated that 70% of the world’s high-quality jade comes from Myanmar. Its trade has a murky history and an even more complex present. During the darkest years of the military regime, forced labor in the jade mines was a common punishment; today, working conditions in the mines are still abysmal.
After the government’s crackdown on the 2007 Saffron Revolution, several nations have issued sanctions against jade trade from Myanmar. While the West has recently lifted most of sanctions in acknowledgment of the steps towards democracy taken by Thein Sein and his government, a ban on jade still exists. China, however, does not take part in it.
This documentary does not wish to celebrate jade trade in any way: the aim of its authors is merely to record and represent a reality which is deeply ingrained in Myanmar’s past and present. When discussing ideas for locations and characters that could embody all the facets and layers of Mandalay’s and Myanmar’s society as a whole, the jade market was a recurrent image among all the workshop’s participants. The Green Mirror is a reflection on Myanmar’s dreams and setbacks, on its struggles and hopes, seen through the eyes of its own people.