There are other stories…
In a nearby village, near the same time and place, a woman was walking on a path carrying her baby and holding the hand of her 5 year old daughter. She ran into soldiers from the Burma Army. She ran. They shot her 5 year old as she scooped her up and tried to carry her, but she was already dead. She had to leave her on the trail in order to keep running. They shot at her and her baby…but she kept running. She made it back to her village with a gunshot wound on her side, but the shot had gone into her baby, he died later.
In another village, just a couple of hours' walk away, the woman in this photo, her family, and the rest of her villagers were hiding in a hide site in the jungle when an attack came. The Burma Army soldiers found them and they ran. Her husband stayed behind so that he could get on the radio and warn the neighboring villages, to give them time to run. As he was sending a message on the radio the soldiers came and shot him. He died heroically, selflessly, to be certain, as did the other woman's husband, but what a tragic death in a senseless war.
I saw pictures of their bodies. I saw pictures of their destroyed villages.
The Burma Army is ruthless. After they have run everyone off or killed them, they burn everything in the village and poke holes into their cooking pots so that there is truly nothing for them to return to. They defecate and urinate in their rice storages, and, oftentimes plant land mines around the perimeter, so that if they try to return, they risk having legs blown up, or worse.
Such evil exists, I kept wondering? It was so hard to believe, but it was so real, sitting there with them on that bamboo floor, listening…feeling their heartache.
They each survived those attacks. Their children survived. But now what. They start over, once again, with nothing. They have been living this life; hungry, fighting for a voice, for freedom to raise their families, for peace…for nearly their entire lives. And they continue to endure.
I am not as strong as these women.
Westerners say "why don't they leave?"
Where would they go? Where can they go? They have no country to call home except for the one they are fighting for their lives in. So they can only survive. Not knowing where they will get food for their children. Not knowing where they will lay their head to rest. Not knowing when or if they will ever know peace.
Why is this going on, you ask? Well, I am afraid I cannot answer that, save evil, perhaps, and tyrannical control. There is no way to justify this internal war between the Burma Army and its own people. It is beyond reason. There are many articles you can find on the internet if you search simply "Burma conflict" but none that will validate this horror. Partners is a great place to start learning about this conflict as they have been actively aiding these people and fighting for human rights for over 15 years. They are also great resource for more information about the conflict.
Please, bear with me, as I tell you other stories, and share other pictures…it is important to understand…we are all interconnected on this planet…and all deserve for our voices to be heard.
And, if these stories or images move you to act…please let me know and I will be happy to tell you how and where to contribute.