MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking) American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz took center stage performing to 70,000 fervent fans at the MTV EXIT Live in Myanmar concert today at Yangon People’s Square, where the magnificent 2600 year-old, golden Shwedagon Pagoda brilliantly shined in the background.
“We are thrilled to be in Yangon to bring together amazing international and local artists to continue the campaign against human trafficking with the people of Myanmar,” said Simon Goff, MTV EXIT CEO. “Music is such a powerful force to fuel change, and tonight, more than 70,000 people stood up in solidarity to make a statement on this global fight to end modern-day slavery!”
Jason Mraz makes history as the first international artist ever to perform at a massive open-air, public concert in Myanmar. The crowd erupted in excitement as Myanmar’s favorite female singer Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein joined Mraz on stage to perform the worldwide hit song Lucky.
R Zarni, one of Myanmar’s most popular artists ignited fans with the live debut of Traps of Life, a powerful song and music video about a survivor of human trafficking struggling to reintegrate into their community. Thailand’s top rock band, Slot Machine, also got the crowd roaring with their guitar-heavy hits Paan (Yesterday) and Chan Chao (Goodbye).
In addition to Asia’s top artists, distinguished speakers also took to the stage to encourage people in Myanmar and throughout the world to join the movement against trafficking. Senior representatives from the Myanmar Central Body for Suppression of Trafficking in Persons, Ministry of Home Affairs encouraged the young audience to prevent trafficking in their home community.
Derek Mitchell, United States Ambassador to Burma and Luis CdeBaca, United States Ambassador-at-Large, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons expressed the U.S. government’s commitment in their strategic approach to combat human trafficking not only in Myanmar but also across Asia and throughout the world.
“The United States Government has a proud history of combatting trafficking in persons around the world,” said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. “For six years, our Agency has been a dedicated supporter of the MTV EXIT campaign, helping to raise awareness about human trafficking around the world. As we’ve seen, knowledge can lead to freedom, giving us all the power to end modern slavery.”
Bronte Moules, Australian Ambassador to Myanmar echoed the theme of the evening with her remarks on the Australian government’s continued efforts, through dynamic awareness-raising and preventative programs being implemented throughout Asia to put an end to modern-day slavery.
Ambassador Bronte Moules, Australian Embassy Myanmar said, “The work of MTV EXIT reminds us that ending human trafficking is everyone’s responsibility. Individuals, families, businesses, NGOs and governments all have a role to play in stopping this trade in human life and ensuring justice for its victims. Australia is committed to working with Myanmar and its partners in the region, on this issue of shared international concern.”
Andrew Forrest, Founder Walk Free took to the stage to address the crowd along with popular local artist and Walk Free Celebrity Ambassador to Myanmar Phyo Gyi. Forrest and Phyo Gyi inspired audience members to join the global movement of young people determined to Walk Free.
“It is such a privilege to be in Myanmar, with MTV EXIT, to launch Walk Free’s global business campaign against modern slavery. This concert is a landmark event, and one we are very proud to be part of,” said Nick Grono, CEO of Walk Free.
Later in the evening, in a great moment demonstrating regional support, representatives of ASEAN, including Danny Lee, Director Community Affairs Development, ASEAN Secretariat; Khine Myat Chit, Senior Officer in the Security Cooperation Division at the ASEAN Secretariat; and Mr. Aung Htoo, Director of the ASEAN Affairs Department in Myanmar; came on stage to encourage the crowd to get informed and protect themselves and their friends and family to avoid falling victim to the transnational crime of human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a transborder issue that requires transborder solutions,” stated David Carden, U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN. “We are working with local, regional and international authorities to address this devastating practice to promote human security for all citizens of ASEAN.”
MTV EXIT Live in Myanmar will air across MTV’s international networks in on 8 March 2013 as a special edition of “MTV World Stage,” MTV’s weekly live music series. Available in more than a half-billion homes, the program will feature footage taken from concert performances, interviews and key information about human trafficking.
This ground-breaking event was made possible by the on-going support of MTV EXIT from the Australian Government’s Agency for International Development (AusAID), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Walk Free, a global movement to end modern-day slavery; and produced in partnership with the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the United Nations Inter-Agency Project Against Human Trafficking (UNIAP) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Human trafficking is a tragic crime that enslaves and exploits its victims, the majority of which are women and children. There are more than 20 million people living in slavery around the world with Myanmar and Southeast Asia particularly affected. The concert forms part of a wider initiative that seeks to educate and train youth through innovative television programming, digital content, capacity building workshops and community-based events. MTV EXIT Live in Myanmar follows the production of two Myanmar MTV EXIT documentaries on human trafficking, which were broadcast in 2010 and 2012 on national television to educate the public about the dangers of trafficking.