Essays

Burma Media Event

Norbert Ruebsaat

This story took place in a Media and Communications Studies class at a Canadian college. Students come to the college from many countries, in the hope of enrolling eventually in a North American university.

Once while living in Burma (now Myanmar), Goran Simic and his brother, whose father was the Serbian ambassador, were stopped by rebels on their way to the international school in Yangon. They were hauled out of their diplomatic Mercedes limousine and forced at gunpoint to witness the beheading, at the side of the road, of a uniformed Myanmar government official. “Look,” said the rebels to the boys, and prodded them with their rifles. “Watch.” Standing nearby were two photographers and a video cameraman, who were recording the beheading. When it was over, the rebels took the rolls of film from the cameras and the tape from the video camera and pressed them into the boys’ hands. “Take them. Show the world!” the rebels shouted. “Show what we are doing.” The rebels herded the brothers back into their limousine and told the driver, who had been watching from his seat, to drive on. Then the rebels sped off.

When Goran and his brother got to school, they gave the films and video to their teacher. They never learned what happened to them. Years later, in the Media and Communications Studies class, Goran wondered whether the incident that he and his brother had witnessed might be called a media event. He could see, after taking the class, that it may have been one, but when it was happening he hadn’t thought of it that way.

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Norbert Ruebsaat

Norbert Ruebsaat has written many articles for Geist. He lived in Vancouver and taught at Simon Fraser University.


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