Please Don't Say My Name

They tell the story of life in Burma—why they had to flee—and why
their lives are still at risk in Malaysia.

September 2010 UPDATE:

Please click on Update on bottom left to learn about the latest developments for the refugees in Burma featured in Please Don't Say My Name, plus many other Burmese refugees, including children, at risk in Malaysia. Listen to Karen Zusman interviewed on Chicago Public Radio's Worldview on September 13, 2010.

“Burmese refugees are being trafficked at the Thai-Malaysia border by the Malaysian law enforcement officials themselves.”
—Irene Fernandez, founder of the Human Rights Group, Tenaganita

“People seeking refuge from oppression in Burma are being abused by the Malaysian government officials and human traffickers.”
—Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Burma is bleeding well beyond its borders.

To date there are more than 2,100 political prisoners in Burma, including Buddhist monks and one Nobel Peace Laureate. Military and civilian officials are involved in the unlawful conscription of child soldiers and wide-spread acts of forced labor inside of Burma. And scores of people are perishing due to the extreme poverty caused by the regime's mis-use of power and by its handling of the Cyclone Nargis crisis.

Yet there is another Burma-related tragedy, which until now has not been told.

In April 2009 the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee published the results of a year-long investigation into allegations that the Malaysian government has been complicit in the human trafficking of people seeking refuge from the extreme persecution they faced in Burma. Once in Malaysia, through a highly organized process between police, immigration officials and traffickers, the refugees are sold to prostitution rings and fishing trawlers.

Please Don't Say My Name stems from my friendship with a small group of Burmese refugees who work together in a restuarant in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I spent a year and a half getting to know them and in early 2009 I traveled to Kuala Lumpur to record their stories. Many of them have been sold to traffickers by Malaysian Immigration Officials--and some of them were arrested while I was there.

The audio-only documentary is one hour in length; the interviews are intimate in tone and record many aspects of their lives both inside and outside of work, prison, detention camps and RELA immigration raids highlighting their continued vulnerability in Malaysia--as well as their ability to create family-like bonds despite the severity of their circmstance.

My name is Karen Zusman, the names of my friends have been changed for their protection.

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