June 15-16, 2002
at War was exhibited at the Festival Mundial in Tilburg, at the invitation
of Amnesty International - Holland. The festival was a massive affair - it
is one of the large European summer festivals - devoted to music and culture
from around the world. It was a great weekend, with lovely weather. Total
attendance was 150,000.
The show was put up on three large billboards and also the back of a wall. It was a fitting setting, in a peaceful glade. I think the Karen, who are mountain people, would have appreciated this.
When I left the KNLA camp that is the show's subject, I told the soldiers that I would tell the people of the world about their problems and try to get them help. The Festival Mundial, or Festival of the World, was therefore a serendipitous place to display. (Thank you Amnesty!)
Amnesty had a large Human Rights Square, just to the left of the main stage (shown in the last photo). They had a Burmese market, and school, and other exhibits as well. The goal of the Square was to generate pressure for the release of the political prisoner, student leader Min Ko Naing. Over 8,000 signatures demanding his release were obtained.
There were frequent performances, both song and dance, after which I would lead a guided tour of the Burma at War exhibit (to explain to the audience how bad things really are in the country). Also, the performers above led two chants from the main stage, calling for a free Burma, in which tens of thousands of people joined in. These chants were then broadcast by the Democratic Voice of Burma radio station into Burma itself, to let the people who are suffering there know that the people of the world support them.
This is a tank. At the beginning of the Festival it was ugly and bare. Festival participants could make a small donation for which they received a flower. By the end of the weekend the tank was transformed. Flowers, not Fear!
After talking about Burma all day long, it was great to get out into the festival for a bit and catch some of the entertainment. There were eighteen stages - this is one of the two main stages - and during the weekend some sixty bands, from all around the world, performed. Also, being Holland, everyone was drinking beer, etc. There were no problems at all. I found myself thinking, in such a large and incredibly diverse community, so this is what a world at peace looks like.