Man or woman, rich or poor, young or old, justice matters to everyone from all religions and ethnicities – it is a human right. The Myanmar Justice Survey 2017 showed that while people in Myanmar had a sound understanding of fairness and equality principles in justice, they didn’t expect it when they faced injustice. People’s opinion of the law and justice institutions have been shaped by their experience of it. Talking about injustice can be difficult and invite censure.
MyJustice initiated Pyaw Kya Mal, or ‘Let’s Talk’, an integrated media campaign that invites the people of Myanmar to engage and talk about justice solutions. Using mass media entertainment principles along with strong messages rooted in data, the campaign was rolled out via TV and radio channels, Facebook and community platforms across Myanmar from October 2018 onwards. The campaign reached a high point with ‘We Rock for Justice’ a concert featuring leading Myanmar bands, held in January 2019. Pyaw Kya Mal spreads the word about how important it is to talk, listen and support each other in the quest for justice through channels traditionally not identified with justice related campaigning.
Famous Myanmar movie star, Zenn Kyi, came on board as an Ambassador for the campaign, thereby magnifying the reach. The campaign also received the support of many social media opinion leaders as well as TV stars, musicians and social commentators.
“Popular media can play a significant role in promoting wider awareness and make all of us into change agents. I am very pleased to be associated with this conversation and the broader effort from MyJustice. This conversation seeks to nurture an environment for people to share their experiences and discuss possible solutions. With time this will contribute to the creation of a fairer and more equal society for all, by making all of us part of the solution.” Zenn Kyi touched hearts by appearing in one of two public services announcements broadcast 412 times across four Myanmar television channels and shown 1,050 times in cinemas.
In this simple one-minute piece, Zenn Kyi is shown looking out for fellow citizens against the campaign theme song that underscores that everyone in Myanmar should be treated equal irrespective of their gender, orientation, ethnicity or religion. No less powerful, was the sister piece featuring a little girl who uses her chalkboard to spread the word amongst the adults in her community about the need to speak up about injustice. These PSAs are visually inclusive featuring Muslims, the differently abled and people of different sexual orientation.
Zenn Kyi also engaged in a number of community events, interacting directly with the public about justice issues. He collaborated with Emperor, leading rock musicians, at the concert where they performed a song on peace and justice. Zenn Kyi and other social media stars directed fans to justice related messaging both on personal pages as well as the Pyaw Kya Mal social media page.
Myanmar Justice Survey 2017 showed that using the platforms of mass media, community activations and social media together, was the best way to encourage people to have a conversation about justice. Pyaw Kya Mal was rolled out via billboards, radio spots, talk shows, community theatre, comics, games, and public service announcements. The evidence-based strategy paid off. In only six months, Pyaw Kya Mal reached over 22 million people through mass media platforms, over 30,000 people through community mobilisation efforts, mall events and rock show and 2.2 million people via social media.
As the campaign gained momentum, further media channels were employed and earned including newspaper and radio ads, talk shows and radio shows on DVB TV, Mandalay FM and Teen FM, as well as static and LED billboards persuading people to engage with the justice system and promote change. 52% of randomly sampled people could recognise the campaign brand. Those who have been exposed to the campaign are more likely to have higher level of rights awareness by 3% to 6% believing that women have equal rights as men, individual rights are as important as community harmony and it is not karma that leads to injustice. At mall events, participants overwhelmingly identified the three messages: everyone should have equal rights, that justice matters to everybody and everyone should know about the law.
A justice related campaign is likely to invite censure. Part of the success of this campaign has been to touch on issues of required change and finding acceptance from the government. ‘I believe that it [Pyaw Kya Mal - Let’s talk campaign] has helped to increase the level of public awareness on justice, which is one of the key strategies at the national level.’ Permanent Secretary, Union Attorney General’s Office
The community level engagement through theatre, games and a graphic novel created a significant level of support for the campaign, that many respondents recalled, months after the events had concluded. ‘There is no event similar to the Pyaw Kya Mal events in the village, we welcome them willingly’, said a respondent from Mawlamyaing.
‘The story of the (theatre) role play is very interesting. Unlike reading, I can remember the story of the role play easily. Moreover, people can gain a lot of knowledge and information from Pyaw Kya Mal’ said a Female Local Leader from Hpa An.
The loudest moments in the conversation happened at the live concert ‘We Rock for Justice!’ that took place at Shwe Htut Tin Event Park in Yangon on 27 January. The event was opened to the public free of charge and featured Myanmar's best singers and musicians including Wai La, Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein, Chan Chan and the legendary Zaw Win Htut and his band Emperor. A crowd of over 9,000 people sang along and listened as rockstars shared what equality and fairness mean to them, while audiences across Myanmar watched in live on Channel 9 and DVB TV. Many of MyJustice’s partner organisations also participated in this event, using games to promote and share the rights related to workers, the LGBT community, children, women and those pertaining to land.
MyJusitce continues to study the impact of this campaign and will continue to expand Pyaw Kya Mal to become a broad-based rights and justice-focused platform owned by many organisations. The impact of Pyaw Kya Mal is best captured by the words of a woman respondent from Hpa-An, a small town in Myanmar, ‘I feel braver than before as earlier we did not dare talk about injustice, especially with Government officials. ‘