Vlog Series: Digital Democracy TV

Regions: Thailand

Tags: burma, community media, grassroots, Media, mobile phones, refugees, repressive regimes, safety, security, training

UPDATE: Watch livefeeds Mark and Emily steamed this past weekend from a refugee camp in Western Thailand - http://qik.com/ddtv.


Mark Belinsky and Emily Jacobi are Founders and Co-Directors of Digital Democracy (Dd), an organization based in New York which empowers civic engagement through the use of digital technologies. Digital Democracy works with local community-based organizations to create the most effective programming. Presently, Dd is working with Burmese communities in Thailand, India and Bangladesh, as well as the United States.

For the next month Mark and Emily will be working in Thailand to launch two of Digital Democracy's programs: Handheld Human Rights  - which uses mobile phones to connect human rights workers around Burma's borders via secure SMS, and Project Einstein, a digital penpal program connecting refugees from Burma living in Thailand with resettled refugees and their peers in the US.

This page will document Mark and Emily's trip through Thailand, and as well as their continuing travels around the world, with a series of short videos about the local communities and organizations they'll be meeting along the way. Stay tuned!

VLOG 5: Burma's Political Prisoners


The number of political prisoners has increased exponentially since Burma’s Saffron Revolution in 2007. This number, as told by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners‘ Aung Myo Thein, is a clear indicator of the political situation in Burma. In this episode of DdTv, Mark and Emily travel to northern Thailand to launch Handheld Human Rights. While there, they meet with Aung Myo Thein, a former political prisoner, now working along the Thai-Burma border to help prisoners like he once was. He gives them a tour of a museum in the organization, and we hear about the horrible conditions and treatment he experienced during his 6 1/2 years in one of Burma’s most notorious prisons.

VLOG 4: Prachatai


While continuing to explore the technology community in Bangkok, Mark and Emily meet some of the courageous people working in online Journalism today. Among them is Jiew, the Executive Director of Prachatai, an online alternative news source for Thailand. Prachatai hosts an online forum, allowing readers to respond to news and issues that are posted. Recently, Jiew was arrested due to several comments posted on the forum by one of its users. In this episode, Mark and Emily take a tour of the Prachatai office, and interview Jiew about her experiences from the past year - discussing the details of her arrest,why she continues to do what she does, and why Prachatai continues to be an important news source for Thailand.


VLOG 3: Open Dream


Bangkok is one of the centers of tech innovation in Asia, but it hasn't always been that way. Tune in as our newly inoculated team moves from Bangkok Hospital to speak with John Berns, one of the co-founders of Barcamp Bangkok, about the rise of the local tech community. After a bike tour of the city, Emily and Mark then travel to Open Dream to meet Thai developers building digital tools for civil society and business.They give us a tour of their office co-working space. What do open government initiatives look like in Thailand and are there ways to support the community there by creating programming teams for new gadgets things like Livescribe? Find out in this episode of DdTv!




Watch the previous vlogs by following these links: 

VLOG 2: Medical Tourism - As the debate over healthcare reform rages in the United States, Mark and Emilly explore another option: medical tourism. Inoculation against certain tropical diseases is a routine precaution for traveling in Southeast Asia but even a handful of shots in the US can quickly become very expensive. So Mark asked: "Why not just get them in Thailand? Can he expect the same quality of care overseas? Can he afford it? And if so, what does that say about our own healthcare system in America? Find out on this episode of DdTV!

VLOG 1: Arriving in Bangkok The voyage begins: from packing, to flying, arriving in Bangkok, and ultimately navigating the city, we follow Mark and Emily as they begin their journey of launching Dd's programs.

Introducing Digital Democracy! - Meet the team behind Digital Democracy and share the story of our creation and previous work around the world, from Thailand to South Africa to Armenia.  



LEARN MORE: Videos and blog posts on Burma

NOTE: This post is a product of Digital Democracy, with the assistance of WITNESS