'FRONTLINE: Myanmar's Killing Fields'
(DVD / R / 2018 / PBS)
Overview: Secret footage going back years shows the effort to kill and expel Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. With accounts from victims and a whistleblower within the military, 'FRONTLINE: Myanmar's Killing Fields' examines evidence that security forces committed crimes against humanity.
DVD Verdict: 'FRONTLINE: Myanmar's Killing Fields' is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most harrowing documentaries I have seen this past decade.
Inclusive of secret footage filmed by a network of citizen activists, and firsthand accounts from victims and their families, 'Myanmar's Killing Fields' is the States' most comprehensive investigation of the Myanmar military's violent crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority - an effort that has been described by the UN as having the "hallmarks of genocide."
For those not in the geographical know, Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the country's largest city, is home to bustling markets, numerous parks and lakes, and the towering, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, which contains Buddhist relics and dates to the 6th century.
However, and back to this engrossing documentary, the Myanmar military insists that its aforementioned campaign was simply a counter-insurgency "clearance operation" targeted against a militant Islamist Rohingya group, ARSA, that had attacked and killed security forces at police and army bases.
But with shocking footage filmed by citizen activists, the documentary depicts an orchestrated campaign to target civilians, state-sanctioned violence, and mass murder - and uncovers new accounts of atrocities against the Rohingya people, from mass rape of women and children, to babies and children thrown into fires.
The film also investigates the role of Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar, in the crisis. The Nobel Laureate was once seen as Myanmar?s hope and a beacon for democracy - including by President Barack Obama, who lifted all sanctions on the country in 2016.
But Suu Kyi, who has continued to defend her country from international criticism, has now been accused of standing by as her country?s military led an operation that killed thousands of civilians.
Indeed, as of May 2018, almost one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are living in the world's largest refugee camp across the border in Bangladesh. There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar before the 2016–17 crisis, but that figure has reduced greatly now due to the aforementioned devastation.
Thus, 'Myanmar's Killing Fields' is a vivid and harrowing look at what drove both sides together and how, so it seems, only one side seems to be "winning" this battle. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.