- Obama ‘cavalier’ in hiding foreign aid order, judge rules
- Prince Charles: Muslims are driving Christians from Mideast through persecution
- Gitmo’s first commander: Close the prison down
- Google’s newest photography find: Just wink and shoot
- Detroit’s Heidelberg art project hit by 8 fires in 8 months
- Pa. police pull people over for random DNA tests for feds
- NASA pushing hard to get back into space game
- Harvard student to face federal charges for bomb hoax
- Ronnie Biggs of ‘Great Train Robbery’ fame dies, 84
- Pope Francis wins another ‘Person of the Year’ — from gay rights magazine
Jason Mraz tops Myanmar anti-trafficking concert
YANGON, MYANMAR (AP) - American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz mixed entertainment with education to become the first world-class entertainer in decades to perform in Myanmar, with a concert to raise awareness of human trafficking.
Local artists, including a hip-hop singer, also played at the event organized by the anti-trafficking media group MTV EXIT _ for “End Exploitation and Trafficking” _in cooperation with U.S. and Australian government aid agencies and the anti-slavery organization Walk Free.
Myanmar is emerging from decades of isolation under a reformist elected government that took office last year after almost five decades of military rule. It has been one of the region’s poorest countries, and its bad human rights record made it the target of political and economic sanctions by Western nations.
But democratic reforms initiated by President Thein Sein have led to the lifting of most sanctions, and the country is hopeful of a political and economic revival. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy opposition leader, was released from house arrest in late 2010 and won a seat in parliament last April.
Mraz called his top-billed appearance at the concert a “tremendous honor.”
“I think the country is, at this time, downloading lots of new information from all around the world,” he said. “I’ve always wanted my music to be here, (for) hope and celebration, peace, love and happiness. And so I’m delighted that my music can be a part of this big download that Myanmar is experiencing right now.”
Organizers said Mraz was the first international artist to perform at an open-air, mass public concert in Myanmar. Jazz artists Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Charlie Byrd visited the country under U.S. government sponsorship in the 1970s, when it was still called Burma, but played at much smaller venues.
Many in the crowd queued for two hours before being admitted to the concert site. Yangon native Sann Oo, 31, wearing a white T-shirt with a sketch of Mraz, said he was pleased that Mraz had come and that there would be a broadcast of the event.
“His visit can promote the image of Myanmar, because people outside have been seeing the country as an insecure place, and poor,” he said. “Now they can see how we look like from the concert. It also opens the potential for more concerts by foreign artists.”
Mraz has a history of involvement with human rights and other social causes.
But there was some criticism of his visit by campaigners for Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya community, which has been the target of ethnic-based violence this year that has forced tens of thousands of people from their homes into makeshift refugee camps. They feel Myanmar’s government has been complicit in the discrimination, and that Mraz’s visit provides it cover with the image of being a defender of human rights.
Mraz said he was aware of the issue, but that if he didn’t come to do the concert because someone else had asked him to protest another problem, then that would not help tackle the exploitation and human trafficking issue.
“I understand that there is a lot of wrongdoing in this world,” he said. “Today I’m here for this.”
Walk Free used the occasion of Sunday’s concert to launch a campaign calling on the world’s major corporations “to work together to end modern slavery by identifying, eradicating and preventing forced labor in their operations and supply chains.” They are seeking to have the companies make a “zero tolerance for slavery pledge” by the end of March next year.
“While many think of slavery as a relic of history, experts estimate that there are currently 20.9 million people living under threat of violence, abuse and harsh penalties,” the Australia-based group said in a statement. “Within this massive number, the majority of people - more than 14.2 million - are in a forced labor situation, used to source raw materials, and create products in sectors such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing and domestic work.”
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- IRS pays tax cheats hundreds of millions of dollars
- HURT: D.C. gets the vapors, calls sequester too much
- Top Democrats reject court ruling over NSA spying on Americans
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- EDITORIAL: Al Gore, soothsayer
- Obama mocks Putin, picks gay athletes for Sochi delegation
- We told you so: Conservatives foresaw polygamy ruling
- Army to cut up to 4,000 captains and majors
- Senators in rush to pass budget vow to undo cut to military retirement pay
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
Southern Fried Politics from the Lens of a Persian-American Millennial
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow