“I don’t believe in [the ceasefire]. But even if during our lifetime there is not success I wish that the next generations can do it. That’s why I would like to be a role model for them.”
Place: Refugee Camp #1, Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Interview by John Freeco
Translation by Theingi Win
Can talk about your experience growing up in Burma?
I lived in my village when I was young and I did know neither the Burmese Military nor the Karenni Army. Though my father had to run away from the village because they wanted to take him as a porter for the Burmese military. The civil war made life difficult. That is why I came to Karenni Refugee Camp since 2012.
How did you grow up in this situation?
I hoped to be able to help my people one day. I had not studied much but I gained general knowledge from my life experience. I desired to help as much as I can as a soldier for my people.
Can you remember a situation when Burmese soldiers came to your village?
My father ran away from home, because the Burmese soldiers tried to arrest him, because he was a rebel. My mother could not support my education during the five years that my father was away from home. I couldn’t effort the tuition fees in Burma.
Was your father arrested or escaped?
Currently, he is in our village at home. Burmese soldiers had been doing security checks of our house and my family at 9:00 PM, 10PM, and 4:00 AM while my father was gone. I felt frighten, I was still young.
What made you stay in the village?
There is nothing special but I was still young during that civil war. Moreover, I also wanted to continue my studies there.
Why did you decide to leave Burma?
I heard the battle was happening but my family lived in De Maw So township that’s why we could survive for a while there. Later on I did not pass the Burmese matriculation exam and I worked a hard job. I gained some political knowledge and decided to come here [to the refugee camp].
What is your experience and feeling of being a soldier?
First, I felt really tired but later on I found happiness in being with my friends among the soldiers. I consoled myself that I can do like other soldiers and former soldiers who had to face more hardship than me. I try to do the best since I made the decision to become a soldier.
Can you tell the most memorable as being a soldier?
I faced hardship when l was in the soldier training, but I will always remember learning together with my friends during this difficult time.
What is your aim and what do you want to do in future?
I would like to be many things but I just focus on serving as a soldier. My aim is to serve as a soldier as long as I can.
Are you still a soldier now that there is a ceasefire?
Yes, I am. Now I am getting trained to be a military officer.
[…] What do you thing about the ceasefire agreement? What do you hope in the future?
I don’t believe in it. But even if during our lifetime there is not success I wish that the next generations can do it. That’s why I would like to be a role model for them.