July 2003

Source: Karen freedom fighters.
Note: these photos are from 2002 through the present.

Short-term forest housing (used until your hiding place is discovered by the Burma army). What you must resort to after the SPDC burns down your village home.

Risks on the run abound. This young boy was wounded by a falling tree. Although the wound refuses to heal and the boy may end up losing his leg, his family will not attempt to get help. That itself is too risky. There is no medical care in Burma, and the trek to Thailand is life-threatening and in any case they will probably be refused entry. In Dictator Watch's experience the only people who can get into Thai hospitals are individuals who have stepped on landmines. Maybe after gangrene sets in and his leg is crudely amputated in the forest, if he survives, the Thais will let this boy in.

A family fleeing their village after the Burma army tried to kill them.

Note: In the editorial cartoon in the Bangkok Post on July 2, 2003, the cartoonist demonized such internally displaced persons, drawing them as carrying suitcases of narcotics into Thailand. Nothing could be further from the truth. The cartoon was not only absurd, it was obscene. It constitutes first class propaganda, of which the Nazis would have been proud. (It was also amazing to see it in the Post, which usually extends a caring and truthful voice to the people who suffer under the SPDC.) Since Prime Minister Thaksin earlier in the week had himself publicly engaged in enemy creation by demonizing Burmese refugees, one can only imagine that the cartoonist wanted to curry favor with him. It was still shocking, though, I would even say criminal, that the Post ran it. (News media are obliged to present contrasting views, but they should never knowingly publish outright lies.)

Another family on the run. In this case they are fleeing from another hiding site (as in the first photo). Notice that there are no suitcases full of drugs to be seen.

Forced labor on a road. One reason why the Karen must run.

The SPDC commit abuses against nature as well as against the people of Burma. This is deforestation near the town of Myitta. The river in the background now regularly experiences severe floods.

Much of the timber that is cut in this area is sold to Thai businessmen. One of their most profitable trades is the manufacture and export of furniture, for which Japan is a leading market. These trees may well now be hardwood furniture in the home of a wealthy Japanese businessman or government official. In World War II, Japan colonized Burma. They also ceded the Shan States east of the Salween River to Thailand, their ally. What Japan and Thailand failed to achieve in the war, since they lost, the pillaging of Burma's natural resources and people, they have now achieved by striking deals with the military junta.