Inside the Frame with Faith Doherty
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Inside the Frame with Faith Doherty

October 25, 2019

From 2012 onwards we began to realise
that yes, illegal logging and the illicit trade in timber was definitely still
going on in Myanmar. We ended up obviously on the China-Myanmar border. I got a
message from contacts saying that there was this huge, just huge line of trucks
about to go and across the border from Myanmar into China. There was a
massive market for high-valued rosewood for the Chinese market and Myanmar has some of
the last remaining rosewood, wild rosewood, on Earth. We got some people up there on the border
and they started filming. We also decided to go and film inside
from where the trucks were standing in Myanmar, and the sheer scale of this
was just unbelievable. Hundreds, hundreds of trucks just chock-full of
hardwood, of rosewood and also teak. When you actually see the sheer scale and how
many there were you begin to realise the impact that this must be having, not just
on the environment but on the people as well. We set out to find organised crime, we set out to find large scale industrial illegal logging and illicit trade. And we found it. In this particular time and place it was very
dangerous there’s conflict in that area there’s war and we had to do an awful
lot of security precautions obviously but we really had to talk through how we
were going to do this. Because not only are you looking at illicit trade, you’re
also in a conflict area and if you’re an ethnic nationality, you know, they’re harassed
and they’re treated really appallingly, and so this was it was very
different than, say, standing on the border which we were doing in China and
having a long-range view. It was was done on a motorbike
with an extremely proficient person using the camera, it was
done extremely well. One of the major things that we’ve been
campaigning for now for decades is for China to take responsibility
and to help Myanmar. There is a log export ban from the country
and China is not doing anything, and it’s that I think that
really gets to all of us but in particular when it’s your land and your
country and your space and you see this scale, then of course they were
really upset, and angry. To this day I feel sick to my stomach.
It’s so terrible. The first time it was shown we were
actually launching the report in Beijing. What was good about it was just showing
the sheer scale, and they were shocked. So it did serve a really good purpose,
it’s really important to capture it so that people who do not have exposure
on the ground of these scenes can see the reality of
what we’re talking about. This is not just about a couple of trees,
this is a whole load of money that we’re talking about.

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