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From Boston to Burma: the human stories

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This week, a video emerged online showing a monk beating a man to death.  In footage shot by Myanmar police and posted on the BBC website, a young Muslim trying to hide in a bush is hauled out and beaten by a group that includes a man in saffron robes. He is struck again and again before someone pulls out a sword and he is left, it seems, for dead.

At the centre of the violence are Myanmar’s Muslim minority groups. Anti-Muslim violence has spread from Rakhine state in western Myanmar to the central city of Meiktila, where that footage was taken last month. At least 43 were killed.

Our cover picture this week is of a Rohingya mother whose son made the long voyage by boat from Bangladesh to Malaysia in an attempt to escape the violence. When photographer Greg Constantine went back two years later, the family still hadn’t heard from their missing child. Constantine’s remarkable series of black and white stills – which will show in Phnom Penh in May – reveal a group of people oppressed beyond endurance.

He told us how each of seven shots came to be, and in doing so, unraveled seven stories of humanity behind the camera lens.

Few could have missed another sad occasion over the last few weeks – the events in Boston. The area is home to a sizeable Cambodian-American population. We heard from one Cambodian marathon runner who was caught up in the bombings. In an interview with Sky News, he said: “I’m Cambodian, I know what a bomb sounds like.” Having escaped the Kingdom shortly before the Khmer Rouge takeover, he counts himself a double survivor.

Also this week, we heard the quiet, charming story of Roel Manalo, the pianist who soundtracks the cocktail hour at Raffles.  A relic from an old-world glamour, he sits in the corner and plays his varied repertoire each evening. He told us the secrets to five-star hospitality – and how if you give him a song to learn, you won’t regret it.

Another, rather different, symbol of glamour comes in the form of drag queen Jujubee – the man born in Boston to Lao parents who became one of America’s biggest drag stars. She’ll be performing at the arts and entertainment gala Glamazon next Thursday. Behind all the sparkly stuff, she told me about the “crazy child” who was accidentally named after a mode of transportation by her immigrant parents.

On covering up, we also tackled the question of face-masks, and how effective they are in protecting against pollution and the transmission of disease. Do they make a difference – even a little bit? We heard the latest opinion from scientists and doctors.

From Boston to Burma, via Laos, there’s a global feel to this issue . Different pages, different part of the world. Enjoy reading.



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