2022 Grateful 48: Artists against Tyranny

I’ve written more than once about my ongoing barny with Hungarian Customs. Anyone sending me anything from outside the EU results in my having to pay a ransom to get the parcel delivered. Worse still, sometimes I have to call the sender (if I know them) and ask them to give me a list of the contents, noting the weight and value of each item. So much for a birthday surprise!

Last year, I supported a fundraising drive to help Myanmar. I participated in an art auction and bought a print of a photograph by Thomas Tan (Singapore) that will give me countless hours of pleasure. When dealing with the logistics of getting it to me – it was coming from the States – I asked them to put a €0 value on the customs form. I’ve learned. I’ve learned.

It was posted priority on 27 December. Today is 4 February. It cost $57.50 to post. But hey, it was priority, right? You can do the math. And while you might say that the world is in chaos and things are simply taking longer to move around, I’d ask why priority is still being offered as a service if the word has been stripped of its meaning.

Anyway, I got a note from the post office to say I had a package waiting and that to get it, I had to pay 5807 ft – close enough to $20. I assumed that they’d disregarded my ask about the zero value but when I paid and picked it up, I discovered that they hadn’t. The customs form said that yes, it was valueless. Money-wise at least.

It turns out that I had to pay VAT on the postage.

It galls me. It really does.

Personal transactions have fallen victim to online commercial trade. There’s no distinction made between personal post and business post. So, if I went stateside and, say, forgot my glasses, and asked my mate to mail them, I’d have to pay to get those, too. My stuff. Used. Worn. Of no value to anyone but me, and I’d still have to pay.

There’s something wrong with this.

But while I simmered and seethed at the injustice of it all, I looked at my photo and thought of all it represented. Of what’s going on in Myanmar. Of what’s happening in the world while I waste my time railing against something I have no hope of changing.

I’m going to get the photo framed. I’m going to hang it on the wall in my office. And every time I feel my blood pressure rising, I’ll look at it and ask myself if my angst is worth it.

In the package were two stickers. I have two suitcases. I like to think that when my suitcase is floating around the luggage carousel, someone might notice the sticker and wonder and then check it out. The world needs to know. Myanmar needs help.

As the situation continues to escalate for many in Myanmar, we are receiving an overwhelming amount of requests for funds. The indigenous flags included in this sticker represent only a portion of the many groups that exist in Myanmar. In clockwise order on the sticker, they are Kachin, Shan, Karen, Karenni, Kayah, Mon, Rakhine, and Chin. We hope this sticker brings you feelings of hope, unity, and strength as we weather this storm together. The pyit tine taung is also a reminder that we will never give up this fight until the murderous Myanmar military regime is crushed! This sticker was designed by a Myanmar artist who comes from one of the indigenous groups listed above. The stickers are water resistant & make a nice gift for loved ones and fellow activists! Once you fill out the link below, we will contact you with instructions on making a payment. https://bit.ly/SaveMyanmarIndigenousSticker

If you’re into art and need to give your inner armchair activist an airing, then follow Artists Against Tyranny on FB. If you’re an artist and have work you could donate to their cause, then do it. You can post what you’re doing on social media and spread the word. The more people know about Myanmar, the more help they will give. And God knows, it’s needed.

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2 Responses

  1. You’re right, this is ridiculous! I had a calendar sent for Christmas by friends in USA – $20 for the calendar, $25 for postage, and 4,800Ft customs duty plus handling charge to be paid at the local post office! And today, notification of a mysterious international postal item – source unknown – with a request for details of contents (duly signed, but by whom?) and a bank statement that it has been paid for if it’s something ordered on internet . . . all within 5 days or it goes back to sender. Which is where it’s going! That will at least cost the struggling post office something – the only thing is, I don’t know whom to warn to expect it back, so it could vanish completely! I don’t know whether a courier service would be cheaper than the post, but at least they would get the documentation right.

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