(Deutsch) DIESE DREI FILME DES HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FESTIVALS SOLLTEST DU NICHT VERPASSEN!

40 internationale Dokumentarfilme aus 42 Ländern: Das Human Rights Film Festival Berlin präsentiert sein außerordentliches Programm. Aufgrund der Corona-Pandemie muss das Festival neue Wege gehen: Durch eine hybride on- und offline Strategie werden alle Filme, Expert*innentalks sowie Veranstaltungsformate – jetzt bis zum 20. Oktober 2020 verlängert – deutschlandweit online verfügbar sein. 

Mit dabei sind drei spannende und zugleich herzergreifende Dokumentarfilme über die Herkunftsregionen unserer Partnerbäuerinnen und -bauern in Afghanistan, Myanmar und Palästina. Uns von Conflictfood gingen sie besonders unter die Haut.

Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)

Unvorstellbar: Mädchen lernen Skateboard fahren in Afghanistan. Das ist nicht nur für sie eine Herausforderung, sondern erst Recht für die Gesellschaft. Mit jeder Übungsstunde in der Turnhalle nehmen die Mädchen Fahrt auf: Ihr Körpergefühl wächst, ihr Selbstbewusstsein steigt. Plötzlich ist ein Studium keine abwegige Vorstellung mehr für zwei Schwestern. Für diesen beschwingenden Film, der ein anderes Afghanistan zeigt, wurde die in Hamburg lebende Regisseurin Zamarin Wahdat in diesem Jahr mit einem Oscar geehrt.

 

Exiled: The Rohingyas 

Die Rohingya in Myanmar – die am meisten verfolgte Minderheit der Welt: Warum wurden 2017 ihre Dörfer niedergebrannt, warum Hunderttausende vertrieben, obwohl die Friedensnobelpreisträgerin Aung San Suu Kyi de facto das Land regiert? Kaum ein Konflikt ist so kompliziert wie die Rohingya-Krise. EXILED leuchtet die Geschichte der muslimischen Minorität im buddhistisch geprägten Myanmar in der Tiefe aus. Burmes*innen und Rohingya sprechen über die historischen Wurzeln der Gewalt und berichten von Ausgrenzung und Hass.

 

Gaza

GAZA nimmt uns mit an einen einzigartigen Ort jenseits der medialen Berichterstattung und zeigt uns eine Welt voller eloquenter und starker Charaktere.  Der Film entwirft ein bereicherndes Porträt von Menschen, die versuchen, ein sinnvolles Leben jenseits der Trümmer des ewigen Konflikts zu führen. Frei von den Klischees der Nachrichtenreportage enthüllt der Film einen Ort der Schönheit inmitten der Verwüstung – durch das außergewöhnliche Leben seiner Bewohner*innen.

INGWER – DIE WOHLSCHMECKENDE HEILKNOLLE

Header_Ingwer_kl

Getrockneter Ingwer ist ein wahrer Allrounder in vielen Küchen der Welt. Die feinen Würfel sind kinderleicht zu dosieren und lange haltbar. Der Ingwer verleiht vielen Gerichten, von einer Kürbissuppe bis hin zu einem Ingwer-Cheesecake, eine ganz besondere, feurig-süße Note. Aber auch im beliebten und wärmenden Ingwer-Tee macht er sich ganz besonders gut.
Wir zeigen dir unsere drei liebsten Varianten, die du mit Conflictfood-Ingwer in nur wenigen Minuten zubereiten kannst. 

© GIZ   

INGWER ZITRONEN TEE

Zutaten für 1 Tasse

2 TL Conflictfood-Ingwer
1 TL Süßungsmittel deiner Wahl – wir haben Honig genommen
Saft einer halben Zitrone
kochendes Wasser

Anleitung

Zwei Teelöffel von dem getrockneten Ingwer in ein Teesieb geben. In einer Tasse mit kochendem Wasser aufgießen.

Eine halbe Zitrone auspressen.  

Nach 4-8 Minuten Ziehzeit das Teesieb aus der Tasse nehmen. Zitronensaft und einen Teelöffel Honig dazugeben, alles gut verrühren und genießen! Alternativ kannst du noch einen Zweig Rosmarin oder ein Blatt Minze in deine Tasse geben, um deinen Tee zusätzlich aufzupeppen.

INGWER GRÜNTEE

Zutaten für 1 Tasse

1 TL Conflictfood-Ingwer
1 TL Conflictfood Grüntee “Silver Shan”
kochendes Wasser

Anleitung

Einen Teelöffel getrockneten Ingwer und einen Teelöffel Grüntee “Silver Shan” in ein Teesieb geben. In einer Tasse mit kochendem Wasser aufgießen.

Lass diese Variante nicht zu lange ziehen, denn sonst wird der Grüntee stark und eventuell bitter. Für uns sind 5 Minuten die perfekte Ziehzeit. Nimm das Sieb aus der Tasse und lass dich von der grandiose Kombination aus Ingwer und Grüntee überraschen!

INGWER-IMMUNBOOSTER 

Zutaten für 1 Tasse

1 TL Conflictfood-Ingwer
0,5 TL frisch gemahlenen/gemörserter Pfeffer
kochendes Wasser

Anleitung

Ingwertee ist in jeder Variante belebend und gesund. Mit der Zugabe von Pfeffer wird er aber zum echten Immunbooster!

Den Pfeffer im Mörser grob zerstoßen oder mit der Mühle grob mahlen. Einen halben Teelöffel gemeinsam mit einem Teelöffel getrocknetem Ingwer in ein Teesieb geben. In einer Tasse mit kochendem Wasser aufgießen.

Nach 4-8 Minuten Ziehzeit das Sieb aus der Tasse nehmen. Alternativ noch einen Löffel Honig unterrühren und dann genüsslich das Immunsystem stärken. 

Dieses Rezept klingt vielleicht etwas verrückt aber es ist köstlich und wirkt Wunder – probier’s aus!

© GIZ   

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MISCHEN STATT MONOKULTUR

Conflictfood_Ingwer_Berge

© GIZ

Warum Ingwer und Tee sich so gut verstehen

Der traditionelle Teeanbau in den Bergen der Shan-Region und die Zusammenarbeit mit Conflictfood bringen dem Volk der Ta’ang seit einigen Jahren konstante und gerechte Einkünfte. Für ein zusätzliches Einkommen und um die Produktion auszubauen, haben die Frauen des Dorfes begonnen Ingwer zwischen ihre Teepflanzen zu setzen. 

© GIZ    

Als ethnische Minderheit sind die Ta’ang im Vielvölkerstaat Myanmar von anhaltenden Konflikten und Auseinandersetzungen mit der Regierungsarmee betroffen. Häufig sind sie gezwungen ihre Felder und Dörfer zu verlassen. Ihre Identität und das alte Wissen um den Anbau von Tee und Ingwer drohen verloren zu gehen. Um das zu bewahren, pflegen wir von Conflictfood enge Beziehungen mit den Bäuerinnen und Bauern. Durch den Handel mit Tee und jetzt Ingwer sichern sie sich ein zusätzliches Einkommen. So schaffen wir gemeinsam friedliche Perspektiven.

© GIZ       

Eine Win-Win-Situation für alle

Die Mischkultur aus Ingwer und Tee ist nicht nur eine Strategie zur Steigerung der Erträge. Sie sorgt zusätzlich für ein gesundes Wachstum beider Pflanzen und steigert merklich die Qualität der Ernte. Krankheiten und Schädlinge haben es schwer, sich auf der Ackerfläche zu verbreiten. So steigen Ertrag und Umsatz, eine wahre Win-Win-Situation!

Im Frühjahr werden die jungen Knollen des Ingwers in die Erde gesetzt. Im September folgt dann der nächste Schritt: Die Mutterwurzel wird ausgegraben während die neu gewachsenen, frischen Wurzeln in der Erde bleiben. Erst zwischen Januar und Dezember werden sie von den Frauen aus der Erde geholt. Insgesamt dauert der Prozess gute 9 Monate. Dann beginnt der Zyklus von Neuem.   

© GIZ        

Nachdem die Frauen den Ingwer von Hand geerntet haben, wird er direkt in kleine Würfel geschnitten und getrocknet. Durch die lange Reifezeit und schonende Trocknung enthält dieser Ingwer mehr Gingerole als eine frische Knolle. Diese Scharfstoffe erhöhen die gesundheitsfördernde Wirkung der Heilknolle und machen sie geschmacksintensiver. Der Ingwer ist so länger haltbar und lässt sich einfach dosieren. Er schmeckt angenehm scharf, wunderbar warm und hat eine leichte Zitrusnote. Eine Jahrtausende alte Wurzel wohltuend als Getränk und ein unverzichtbares Gewürz in deiner Küche.

Hol dir den Geschmack Myanmars nach Hause! Wie wäre es mit einer Tasse Ingwer-Zitrone-Tee oder einem scharfen Curry? Mit unserem getrockneten Ingwer verleihst du jedem deiner Gerichte – egal ob süß oder herzhaft – ein ganz besonderes Aroma!

© GIZ        

Hier geht’s zum Shop

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Vinaigrette with Black Tea and Oranges

An article written by our guest author Selina Reusser

Why wait for the tea to steep if you can also just eat it?

 

First you boil the water, then you add the tea leaves, and then you let it steep – everyone can make tea, but did you know that you can also make an aromatic vinaigrette from your Conflictfood Black Tea ‘Silver Shan’? The easy and quick preparation of the vinaigrette gives your salads a fruity-spicy taste experience and shows you how diverse the use of tea can be!

Of course, we have already tried out the vinaigrette for you and wish you a lot of fun preparing it!

Ingredients:

2 tsp Conflictfood Organic Black Tea ‘Golden Shan’
50 ml Water
2 Shallots
1 Garlic Clove (optional)
5 tbsp Olive Oil
Juice of an Orange
Juice of half a Lemon
Salt and Pepper
Honey or a sweetener of your choice (optional)
Salad herbs to decorate (optional)
Salad of your choice (optional with Cherry tomatoes)

 

 

Preparation time:

ca. 10-20 min

 

Portions:

4 -6 Portions

Instruction:

 

First, you boil 50 ml of water. With the help of a sieve or a teabag, let the Conflictfood Organic Balck Tea ‘Silver Shan’ steep for about 10 minutes and then let it cool. You can also prepare your tea one day earlier so that it can cool overnight.Meanwhile, squeeze the orange and lemon and put the juice aside. Then you cut the shallots into very fine cubes and put them aside as well. If you like garlic, you can also add a garlic clove to your vinaigrette.Now you mix the tea with the orange juice and taste the mixture with lemon juice, salt, pepper and optionally honey and salad herbs. Finally, add the shallots and if preferred the garlic, and voilà – your vinaigrette is ready.

The Conflictfood Team wishes you ‘Guten Appetit’!

More Recipes

Our Top 3 Tips for Multiple Infusions

An article provided by our guest author Selina Reusser

One of the biggest benefits of drinking tea from whole tea leaves is that each serving of leaves can be infused several times. As they steep, they unfurl, exposing more surface area and releasing more flavor. As the leaf opens, the flavor becomes more intense, with most teas delivering the best taste on the second or third infusion.

If you are used to drinking tea from tea bags, this multiple usage may seem counterintuitive, as tea from tea bags is unlikely to give a second or even third infusion. This is because the tea dust contained in bags has a more exposed surface area, thereby releasing its flavor more quickly. Tea bags not derived from the tea plant Camellia sinensis usually consist of smaller petals or chopped ingredients such as leaves or roots. These teas are known as ‘tisane‘ (or Herbal Teas) and are usually non-caffeinated, which is why their ingredients rarely give off flavor for more than one infusion.

If you want to improve your tea brewing ability and release more flavor during your tea drinking, it is worthwhile to switch to whole tea leaves. Only the leaves of Camellia sinensis (e.g., green tea or black tea leaves) survive several infusions.

Below we have put together our TOP 3 tips for the multiple brewing of tea leaves:

1. Consider the steeping time:

A tea bag tipically contains about 1,5-2 grams of powdered tea, which should be soaked in 3-4dl of water for 8-10 minutes. This tea releases its full aroma in no time and cannot be infused again. However, if you allow whole tea leaves to steep for so long, these too will give most of their taste and aroma into the first cup. But since we are using whole leaves suitable for several infusions, it makes more sense to let the leaves steep for only 2-4 minutes. The shorter steeping time allows the tea leaves to slowly develop their flavor with each additional infusion, which also reduces the bitterness in the brew and decreases the caffeine content.

2. Do not wait too long between infusions:

Once you have infused the tea leaves, something similar happens to them as with cooked vegetables: when exposed to air, they gradually lose their aroma and taste. For example, lighter styles like Green Tea ‘Silver Shan’ and White Tea lose their aroma very quickly. So it’s best if you do not leave used tea leaves in between infusions for too long, and use them up within a day. In our experience, it is fine to store the leaves in the brewing vessel, at room temperature. If you live in a more humid climate, it makes more sense to keep the leaves in the fridge to avoid any chance of mold.

3. Finish with a ‘Cold Brew‘:

If your tea leaves are still fresh and aromatic after several infusions, we recommend soaking the leaves in a large glass of water and storing them overnight in the fridge to prepare an iced tea the next day. The long, cold infusion pulls even the last taste out of the leaves, without this becomes bitter. By doing this, you can make sure you get the most out of every tea leaf.If you do not have time for a long tea session, you can simply vary the amount of water, the amount of tea leaves, and the steeping time to extract all the aroma at once. This method is best for high-quality teas, as low-quality leaves are likely to produce bitterness with this method. You will find more brewing tips suited to our different teas in each of our Peace Kits.

Regardless of how many cups of tea you consume daily, the flexibility of making loose leaves will make you create the perfect brew – have fun experimenting and enjoying!

Find your own Peace Kit here

A journey to the origin of the teas, Part 3

In our last blogpost you could join the team of Conflictfood on shaky rails through the green jungle of Shan-State. Today we continue our journey to the origin of the teas:

It is the rural regions which are fiercely disputed. Precisely those remote areas in which the tea plants are thriving. Only with the permission of the state are foreigners allowed to enter deeper into this region. With the Jeep Edward is guiding us towards our destination. There are still two hours to go to reach the 1400 meter high Kutkai, the heart of the tea cultivation. The path, made out of stone and debris, is getting steeper and narrower. Unexpectedly the fog is lifting and enables a view onto the wide landscapes of the North-Shan. A jungle consisting of a rich green in hundreds of nuances, huge macadamia trees, lofty teak giants and in between the wild and original tea plants grow. The agrarian experts call this sustainable plant symbiosis intercropping and celebrate it as a new trend. In the mountains of the Shan region this trend is already hundreds of years old!

It is the rural regions which are fiercely disputed. Precisely those remote areas in which the tea plants are thriving. 

These lush green hills are the work place of Aye Hla.  Her bright red sarong and the silver hoop around her hips tell that she also belongs to the people of the Ta’ang. At 29 years old she ranks as one of the most experienced and well paid tea pickers in the village. The unique character of the tea lies literally in her hands. After meticulous inspection and careful touching she decides which tea leaf she will pick. ‘Two leaves and a bud’, meaning just the terminal bud from a tea branch covered with a soft fluff as well as both of the corresponding leaves are picked for the qualitatively high tea.

In a routine way  Aye Hla plucks the young and delicate sprouts of the tea bushes with her hands and puts them into the basket. With very few but fast grips one bush is harvested and the next one is following immediately.

The spring harvest, Shwe Phi Oo, as Aye Hla calls it, is the most precious. The first, fresh sprouts of the plant are shooting in April and have to be harvested and processed quickly. This only works with a big and skilled team of pickers.

Many of her colleagues from the last harvesting year are not there anymore, she tells us. At best they are seeking their fortune voluntarily in nearby China as better paid harvest workers. At worst the young Ta’ang women are being married off against their will to Chinese men. Chinas ‘one child policy’ and the wish for a male son and heir has, especially in the Chinese borderland of Yunnan, disbalanced the gender ratio. For roughly 3,000 Euro the prospective wives are being sold over the border by human traffickers.

Spanning many generations the cultivation of tea has become an integral part of the identity of the people in North-Shan. But because of the conflict the farmers have become refugees.

Also the harvest workers from the south stay away more and more. It simply became too dangerous, Aye Hla says and points towards the next hill. Hidden behind dense leaves one can recognize an unremarkable tin shack- a base from the Ta’ang National Liberation Army. It is one of the 15 armed rebel groups in the country which have been active for more than 60 years, fighting for more autonomy for their ethnic minority.

Compared to them there is a 350,000 men strong army of the government, the so called Tatmadaw.

Even if this conflict escapes from the international attention almost entirely, some observers call it the longest standing civil war of the world. This war has cost hundreds of thousands of people their homes and in parts also their lives. The people find refuge in the hills, live in camps or built up a new existence in other parts of the country.

Hidden behind dense leaves one can recognize an unremarkable tin shack- a base from the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, one of the 15 armed rebel groups fighting for more autonomy for their ethnic minority.

Spanning many generations the cultivation of tea has become an integral part of the identity of the people in North-Shan. But because of the conflict the farmers have become refugees. With their migration this identity starts to vanish and the knowledge gets lost. Edward from the Palaung Tea Growers & Sellers Association knows about the danger and gives training and classes for the remaining farmers. Organic composting, hygienic sun drying, he even offers courses in accounting to the association members. The course for tomorrow has been booked out for weeks: tea exports. For now there are still many things to be set in place to surpass being a rarity on the European market. But the course is set.

Not only is it Edward’s big dream to be able to sell Myanmar tea over the borders, all the families of the North-Shan are enthusiastic about the idea that people all around the world enjoy Myanmar teas!

Here in the mountains of the Shan region our long journey to the origin of the teas comes to an end. “I brought us the perfect refreshment“, Edward says, taking out his thermos and pouring in a hot drink into our cups. „Coffee?!“, we ask surprised as Edward laughs out loud: „ Sure, what did you expect!”

Did you know that the aromatic, fruity green tea and velvet black tea from the conflict-stricken region of the North-Shan is available in our online shop? get it here.

Find our Conflictfood Teas here

A journey to the origin of the teas, Part 2

In our last blogpost you could join the team of Conflictfood on shaky rails through the green jungle of Shan-State. Today we continue our journey to the origin of the teas:

As we reach Hsipaw the sun is standing high up in the sky. On the train platform women balance wide baskets on top of their heads and hand out lunch meals through the windows. Shan-tofu, rice noodles, corn cobs, fried rice, slices of mango, fresh pineapple; there is something for everyone. Here all of the young backpackers are disembarking because Hsipaw is known as a paradise for hikers and adventurers.

At the train station we meet Yar Mar Myat Aye. Her whole body sunken, she sits there surrounded by a mountain of bags, fruits, garments and all kinds of other household stuff. Her remote village no longer offers her and her family any safety. The 80-year-old Yar Mar Myat Aye is in flight.

With a low voice she tells us about military arbitrariness, about gunfire every night. She herself is a Ta’ang. For many generations Yar Mar Myat Aye’s family has been cultivating tea. She doesn’t know anything else but the harvesting along the bushes and the drying on the mats made out of palm leaves. Proudly she presents a bulging bag of tea from her last harvest which she brings out from underneath her stuff.

HSIPAW – Here all of the young backpackers are disembarking. it is known as a paradise for hikers and adventurers.

The call from the locomotive prompts the remaining passengers to re-embark. The train rolls on through the hilly landscape which gradually turns into a spectacular red sunset.

Right before midnight, after 20 hours travelling and 188 kilometres crossed the train reaches its destination Lashio. In the small trading town one can feel the proximity to the Chinese border. Farmers from the surrounding areas, businessmen from the neighbouring countries and smugglers hope to make big money here in the golden triangle. Or they are, just like us, simply in transit. Tired from the wobbly train journey we let ourselves fall onto our beds in the hotel exhausted.

Early in the morning we are rudely awakened. The church bells in Lashio are calling the Christian community loudly for Sunday prayer. The small town is even the seat of the bishop. Since Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century also spread the word of God in Myanmar, today around one per cent of the population is Roman Catholic. We visit the ornate church which is filled to its maximum capacity. Everyone there sings the church songs with great ardour. The topic for discussion after the mass is the group of fleeing farmers who a day ago arrived in town and are now hosted in the neighbouring Buddhist convent.

The 80-year-old Yar Mar Myat Aye is in flight. With a low voice she tells us about military arbitrariness, about gunfire every night.

She herself is a Ta’ang.

We drive to the convent to talk to the ‘new arrivals’. They are tea farmers from a remote valley in the North, a dozen families, over 70 people. Three days ago there had been violent riots in their village so they had to flee in the dead of night. The grief over a lost family member who has been killed through the government army is still written in their faces. In the convent they are getting a place to sleep and a warm meal. For now the social net in the Shan State is still functioning so that individual groups of refugees are received and provided for. Often they get split up according to their religion but sometimes they are also scattered in an indiscriminate manner.

Join us on our journey to the origin of the teas! Our next and last blogpost will bring us to the lush and green but fiercely disputed mountains of North-Shan. Read more in our next blogpost!

Did you know that the aromatic, fruity green tea and velvet black tea from the conflict-stricken region of the North-Shan is available in our online shop? get it here.

Find our Conflictfood Teas here

A journey to the origin of our teas, Part 1

Whether it’s between the street canyons in the bustling city of Yangon or in the shade of a thousand-year-old temple in the picturesque Bagan- everywhere in Myanmar people drink the national drink from morning to night time- Lah Phet Yay, the tea of Myanmar.

We are sitting in a tea house in the noisy and lively city of Mandala, meeting with Edward. Wordlessly he lifts three fingers in the air so that immediately the attentive staff serves us three cups of the typical Myanmar tea: deep black, a lot of sugar and plenty of condensed milk.

‘That can be blamed on the British!’, the 34 year old grins and takes a sip from his cup. His real name is Thein Htwe but like many people in Myanmar he lets us call him by his western name to make the pronunciation easier for us. Edward is leading the Palaung Tea Growers & Sellers Association. If anyone knows about tea it’s him. His family run business is not only trading tea but also trains tea farmers in the distant growing areas in ecological farming and improves together with them the processing of the tea.

Edward belongs to the ethnic group of the Ta’ang, which is one of the oldest ethnic minorities of the multi-ethnic state of Myanmar. It counts over 135 different ethnic groups many of which, like Edward and the Ta’ang, speak their own language, live their own culture, and practice their own religion.

Many of the Ta’ang people are deeply spiritual and practice Buddhism with an animistic and shamanic tinge. It was Edward’s ancestors who thousands of years ago harvested the first tea plants, Camellia Sinensis, in the region of today’s Shan-state and the Chinese province of Yunnan, and used them as a medical plant.

Everywhere in Myanmar people drink the national drink from morning to night time- Lah Phet Yay, the tea of Myanmar.

From here the tea plant developed towards China where they produced green tea from it. Only the English colonial masters started to plant the tea on a large scale and in the form of plantations using the subspecies Thea Assamica, as it is widespread in the north Indian region of Assam or Darjeeling. The British fondness for ‘Tea with Milk and Sugar’ is still setting the tone.

Over the second cup of the sweet tea Edward is telling us about his big dream to not only be able to drink the undiscovered tea treasures of his country in the tea houses of Myanmar but also in distant lands.

On the international market there is a huge potential for the teas from the land of the golden pagodas. The absolute natural purity and original taste would suit the European palate well. However, tea from Myanmar remains a rarity in Europe.

Each of the passengers seems to hold his breath for a few minutes as the train rattles over the filigree steel construction, 700 meter long and 250 meter high.

Edward knows why that is. Only a few years ago and rather cautiously his homeland started to open up. During the time of the military dictatorship the cultivation of rice and opium was promoted as the long tea tradition was not considered profit-yielding. But this now lies in the past and a return is taking place. Over 80% of Myanmar tea is cultivated in the fertile highlands of the Shan-state but precisely this region is fiercely fought over. A battle which brings the farmers of the region, already on the verge of their economic existence, even closer to economic destitution. To be able to understand the complex situation one has to travel to the origin of tea cultivation, and so Edward surprises us with three train tickets from Mandalay to Lashio. Departure is tomorrow, at 4 o’clock in the morning!

The train from Mandalay in the northern Shan-state departs just once a day. Also, the single lane track can only be traversed very slowly. The carriages are rocking and swaying alarmingly. Looking at the faces of the other passengers one knows who is riding along for the first time.

‘Upper Class’ is written in scuffed letters on the wall on the inside of the carriages, revealing an expectation of the type of passengers who would be availing of the route constructed by the British Empire.

‘Last time when the train derailed…’, Edward starts but we put him off. At 4 o’clock in the morning no one wants to hear such stories. We leave the dust and the bustle of Mandalay behind us and drive towards the sunrise. The old diesel engine is pulling the carriages through a narrow gap of completely overgrown vegetation so that leaves and tree branches are whipping through the open windows onto the shoulders of the passengers.

‘Upper Class’ is written in scuffed letters on the wall on the inside of the carriages, revealing an expectation of the type of passengers who would be availing of the route constructed by the British Empire. Already the British officers had an appreciation for the fresh country air in the hilly Shan region. Besides, the Empire wanted to expand to exploit the colony more effectively. For that they needed a useful infrastructure.

After 130 km the train reaches its most difficult but also most impressing hindrance- the Goteik Viadukt. When the British built it in 1900 it was said to be the biggest railway bridge of the world. Each of the passengers seems to hold his breath for a few minutes as the train rattles over the filigree steel construction, 700 meter long and 250 meter high. The ones who aren’t scared of heights and dare to take a look down are rewarded with a breath-taking view.

Join us on our journey to the origin of the teas! Our next blogpost will bring us to the Golden Triangle and to the seat of a bishop. And we will witness a tragic story in a Buddhist convent.  Read more in our next post!

Did you know that the aromatic, fruity green tea and velvet black tea from the conflict-stricken region of the North-Shan is available in our online shop? get it here.

Read more about Myanmar

It’s a long road to democracy for Myanmar

Myanmar, the land of the golden temples and the red robes. The nation in the heart of South-East Asia has a mysterious reputation that precedes it.

We think of green, exotic landscapes, spiritual places of prayer, smiling Buddhas and white elephants.

And in fact, the land which is still known as Birma or Burma by many, is characterized by a colourful cultural, social as well as geographical, economic and most of all ethnographic diversity.

For centuries this diversity has brought the land a rather turbulent political history. After the rise and fall of countless kingdoms the country was colonized by the British Crown in 1885.

During this time the country was occupied by Japan during the Second World War, an end to British colonial rule followed in 1948. The independence was an achievement which to a large part was due to a resistance movement under the hero of the state general Aung San. He was shot during a cabinet meeting in 1947.Many decades later his daughter Aung San Suu Kyi was meant to step in his footsteps. After a long period of military dictatorship which put the economically flourishing country under one central administration isolating and exhausting it, Aung San Suu Kyi set the much needed democratic process going.

Today the Nobel Peace Prize Winner is a state counselor elected with a vast majority who is equally loved and criticised worldwide.Behind the scenes high-ranking military generals are still pulling the strings. Because the military does not want to give up any economic privileges, poverty and corruption are part of everyday life. Even though strategically placed in a favourable position between China and India the people unfortunately do not make any profit from it. Also, the revenues from selling the abundance of natural resources and land are pocketed by the military elite, diverting much needed funds away from the common good.

Instead, people are forced to remain living in the painful economic isolation they endured during their time under the military regime. The money seeps away into the pockets of the political elite or into bank accounts of rich businessmen from the mighty neighbouring countries.More than 140 ethnicities are living in today’s Union of Myanmar. The wish for independence and more autonomy of some minorities is the cause for on-going political conflicts.

In the West of the country the mainly Muslim population of the Rohingya suffers under the contempt and persecution of the majority population, especially of ultra nationalist Buddhists. The United Nation speaks about the most persecuted minority in the world but the government in Myanmar remains silent about the massive human rights violations the Rohingya people are constantly exposed to.On the other end of the country, in the North East, a civil war is raging. Some ethnic groups are fighting against the army of the government. Going on for six decades already the stealth conflict is conspicuous in its absence from almost every public media perception and the resulting coverage.

Despite all the conflicts, Myanmar is fascinating country which one has to discover.  With its extraordinary history, its tradition, the picturesque landscape and most of all the heartfelt and extremely hospitable people.

Read more about Myanmar

A little tea lore

After water, tea is the most popular drink in the world. We all know and appreciate the many aromas of the coveted hot beverage. But what do black, green, white and oolong tea have in common? You guessed right, they all come from the same plant, called Camellia Sinensis!

This evergreen plant grows in (sub-) tropical climates at a specific altitude.Around 5000 years ago tea was mentioned in old scriptures and was processed for the first time in the hills of today’s northern Myanmar and south China. From here the medical plant spread and was bred further with ever more knowledge. Up until today it is cultivated in the region and far beyond.Yet, how is it possible that the very same plant can be so versatile in aroma, smell and colour? That is due to the processing of the leaves!

 

BLACK TEA

To produce black tea the harvested leaves are grated so that the cell walls are destroyed and a fermentation process is set in motion. The leaves turn copper. During this process everything gets presorted, rearranged, shaken, sieved and restacked so that after the drying period the desired black tea is ready.

GREAN TEA

However, to produce green tea you want to prevent this fermentation process. The leaves are heated up only briefly and gently, by roasting or steaming. Through this the leaves stay green in colour and retain their fresh taste.

 

OOLONG TEA

Oolong tea belongs to the so called half fermented teas. The attentive reader might already know what that means. The oxidation process after the breaking of the leaves is started but stopped before the heart of the leaf is fermented. Through that the oolong tea combines the freshness of a green tea with the rather strong character of a black tea.

 

WHITE TEA

The white tea is processed the least in comparison with the other types of teas. Only special leaf buds are being used. They are not being heated up, hardly oxidized and very gently dried.

…AND HERBAL TEAS?

By the way, herbal teas and fruit teas are strictly speaking not a tea because they do not stem from the tea plant. They are ‘infusions’ or bear the uncharming name ‘tea-like product’.

Wanna find out more about tea? Join us on our journey to the origin of the teas in MYANMAR!

Myanmar – wohin geht’s?

Der Weg in Richtung Demokratie ist für Myanmar ein steiniger. Wir waren letztes Jahr vor Ort, haben Land und Leute kennengelernt und Handelsbeziehungen mit Bauern aus dem umkämpften Norden des Landes aufgebaut. Ihre Tees gibt es übrigens im Conflictfood Onlineshop zu kaufen.

Wie steht es aktuell um das faszinierende Land? Welche Rolle spielen Wirtschaft und Handel, Politik und Menschenrechte? Wir wollen das Bild des Landes schärfen und die Frage klären, in welche Richtungen sich Myanmar entwickeln kann.

Um diese Aspekte auszuloten organisieren wir gemeinsam mit dem Verein Cultivating Peace e.V. das Symposium:

„Myanmar – wohin geht’s ?“
12.02.2018, 16:00 bis 20:00 Uhr
Unicorn.Berlin, Brunnenstraße 64, 13355 BerlinAls RednerInnen sind geladen:

Dr. Hans-Bernd Zöllner | Freiberuflicher Südostasienwissenschaftler, Research Fellow des Numata Zentrums für Buddhismuskunde, Hamburg

Richard Roewer | Doktorand Leibniz Institut für Globale u. Regionale Studien & DPhil Candidate, University of Oxford

Jella Fink | Ethnologin, TU Dortmund & Myanmar-Institut e.V., Berlin

Simon Welte | Mitgründer & Geschäftsführer Alsharq Reise & Consultant in der EZ, Berlin

Ulla Kroeber | Gründerin Hla Day, Yangon

Die Moderation übernimmt Sven Hansen, Asien-Redakteur der taz. die tageszeitung, Berlin.Nach den Impulsvorträgen laden wir zu einer Podiumsdiskussion ein, in der wir tiefere Einblicke in die Entwicklung des faszinierenden Landes gewinnen können. Begleitet wird das Symposium von Kurzfilmen der Yangon Film School und der Fotoausstellung Faces of Myanmar von Conflictfood.

Auch das Buffet wird ausgerichtet von Conflictfood, mit Zutaten aus direktem und fairem Handel mit Kleinbauern aus Konfliktregionen. Mit dabei sind unter anderem kulinarische Köstlichkeiten aus Myanmar.Die Veranstaltung ist öffentlich, der Eintritt ist frei, die Tickets sind allerdings limitiert.

Sichere dir rechtzeitig dein Ticket: 

The tragedy of the Rohingya, Interview

Ethnic tensions have shaped the multi-ethnic state of Myanmar. In particular, the borderline racist disdain towards a specific group seems very worrying: it is the minority of the Rohingya that prays and looks differently than the Buddhist majority.

About 1.2 million Rohingya live either interned behind barbed wire in camps or are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. The United Nations call the Rohingya the worst affected of the persecuted ethnic minorities. A sad record that has its origin in the withdrawal of citizenship from the Rohingya in 1982, further escalated by a mass exodus of Rohingya seeking refuge by boat in 2015, and today marked by the killing of thousands while hundreds of thousands are fleeing.

The Burmese army is accused of murder, pillage and mass rape. In addition, some radical Buddhist monks have turned their religion into an aggressive and ultra-nationalist ideology. Their association “Ma Ba Tha” supports the hatred towards the Rohingya and does not shy away from the use of violence

About 1.2 million Rohingya live either interned behind barbed wire in camps or are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. 

Let’s have a talk with…

Kyaw Soe Aung is himself a Rohingya and represents the positions of his ethnicity in the Democratic and Human Rights Party. We met him for an interview in Yangon.

Mister Kyaw, how is the situation for you in Myanmar?

As Rohingya, we live a stateless existence and are not accepted in our home country. We neither get an ID card nor a passport. We are not allowed to have more than two children due to a birth regulation. We are not allowed to have our Muslim birth names. When we want to marry we have to ask the state of Myanmar for permission. Due to this rule, we often need to wait years before we can be lawfully married. Additionally, we are not allowed to leave the country legally. However, when we succeed leaving the country, we are not permitted to enter the country of Myanmar once again.

Most Rohingya live in the state of Rakhine. In the capital city of Sittwe living feels like an open-air prison. We live in a ghetto that we are not allowed to leave. Other Rohingya live in IDP camps (IDP stands for internally displaced people).

How is life in these camps?

The situation is catastrophic! People do not have access to drinking water and access to foodstuff is scant. There are not enough tents, blankets and barely any sanitary stations. We don’t have schools, doctors, anything. Lots of children suffer from intestinal or dermal infectious diseases. The child mortality rate is high, the number of pregnant woman dying is double than in the rest of Myanmar. Many NGO’s work permission have been withdrawn. Our people are not safe.

Are the Rohingya safe in neighbouring countries?

Tens of thousands of us are fleeing regularly by boat to Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia. First, you need to bribe the coast police, to pay the tugs and survive a long and dangerous journey on an overcrowded fishing boat. In Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, they are sold as work slaves and partly as sex slaves. As stateless people we are endangered to be victims of human trafficking because we are nowhere officially registered as missing.

Kyaw Soe Aung is himself a Rohingya and represents the positions of his ethnicity in the Democratic and Human Rights Party.

How does the government of Myanmar justify the withdrawal of citizenship?

In 1982, the government decided that the ethnicities that have not lived in Myanmar before 1824 should not be citizens of Myanmar. Despite of historic evidence that Rohingya are part of Myanmar for centuries, our citizenship was cancelled. There are various degrees of citizenship and some of them are theoretically accessible for us. In practice, we are hindered due to harassing regulations and in reality this form of citizenship not accessible. As a result, we are stateless. We cannot do anything against the arbitrary treatment by police, military and authorities.

What do you wish for the future?

I wish for peace between the religions and the peoples in Myanmar. Still, the situation has escalated to a degree that is almost unsalvageable without the pressure of the international community. We need to change the legal situation of the Rohingya and other minorities. The world needs to put pressure on the government of Myanmar. We have put great hopes in Aung San Suu Kyi but she is too weak to counter the military and the radical groups of Buddhists in the country. An UN mission by blue helmets would be the first step to ensure a secure future for our people. And NGOs must be given full access to the refugee camps, so the humanitarian catastrophe will finally come to an end.

Thank you.

Read more about Myanmar