When prisons are instruments of authoritarian rule, the entire country becomes a prison. When an entire country is a prison, global civil society is degraded. The illusion that a prison is a single place obscures these larger structures of terror and repression. How, then, to expose them? Enigma Images provides a remarkable photographic exhibition of those Burmese who have been released from one prison only to find themselves still restricted by surveillance, exile, and the knowledge that their fellow citizens are still under arrest. Thus, they reveal that
EVEN THOUGH I’M FREE I AM NOT
“Even Though I’m Free I Am Not” is a global documentary photography project. Traveling to South East Asia, Australia, Japan, Europe, USA, Canada as well as into Burma itself, hundreds of Burma’s former political prisoners who are now forced to live in exile are being photographed to raise awareness of the tragic plight of their compatriots still detained in jail.
Each of those photographed makes the simple symbolic gesture of the palm being shown in the Buddhist Abhaya Mudhra with the name of another prisoner. Individually and together they are a testament to the fundamental principle of human rights–the autonomy and dignity of the individual person–and to the moral and political solidarity that is essential to securing those rights. I encourage you to spend some time at the website, which archives an impressive set of projects on behalf of the Burmese people. And as you look at the photos of the individuals in exile, ask yourself, if they are not wholly free, are you?