My name is Saw Kwehsay and I was born in Karen State, Burma. My village was destroyed by the Burmese Army in 1976. We had to live in the jungle. My father was killed by the Burmese Army three months before my mother gave birth to my youngest sister. I had no friends to play with, no school to go to and no health care when we got sick. I had no food sometimes and had to go the jungle to find eatable food for our survival. My mother planned many times to kill herself and to kill us as she did not want to see her children starve to death and she did not want us to be left alive when she died of starvation. As you are not in this kind of situation it will be difficult for you to relate.
I came to the Thai Burma border in 1983 to stay with my uncle where I could be educated. Again, the Burmese Army attacked and occupied the village. As a result I was forced to move to Thailand and live in the refugee camp in April 1984. I lived in the refugee camp for ten years with no freedom.
I went back to my village area several times between 1990 and 1993 to visit my mother and I saw that the situation had not improved. In 1994 I started working with Burma Issues. I believe in the ideology and concept of finding a solution to the conflict in Burma, in a peaceful and non-violent way. I started working as the human rights information collector in my own village area and provided basic human rights training to the local villagers. When I worked as the human rights information collector I did take photos and document my own house which had been burned down by the Burmese Army.
By working with CUSO-VSO we have learned skills on documenting human rights violations with video documentation and advocacy. CUSO-VSO has since become our partner organization which enables us to work cooperatively with more ethnic human rights organizations, and engage in human rights activities and to cooperate with ethnic groups in the field of youth and women empowerment and capacity building.
My role in Burma Issues/Peace Way Foundation is the Information and Campaign Coordinator. We believe in justice and peace and we hope you all stand with us. We are calling for the respect of human rights. We do stand for justice. Stand with us.