In the mountainous jungles of eastern Burma, the Karen National Liberation Army has been fighting against the Burmese military, for the freedom of the Karen State for 66 years, in what is the worlds longest running armed conflict.
Since Burma gained independence from the British in 1948, ethnic minorities such as the Karen have been brutally oppressed by the Burmese military, sending thousands of refugees across the border into to Thailand. For decades villages have routinely been razed to the ground, people have been used for forced labour and reportedly tortured and killed.
Generations of Karen people have sacrificed their lives their lives in the war and still young Karen people continue to join the fight. The soldiers receive no salary and they rarely get to see their families, but they are determined to avenge abuses committed by the Burma army against their their people.
“We have grown up witnessing rape, murder, destruction of villages and bombings of civilians. We have to defend the Karen people and fight for the freedom of the Karen State“ says Saw Eh Kaw Klay.
Experts in guerilla warfare and knowing the land mine littered jungles well, the KNLA has managed to resist a superior Burmese army of an estimated 400.000 soldiers equipped with modern weapons, tanks and fighter planes.
“They are better equipped than us, but we have no fear and we have the motivation to fight for our people. For us surrender is out of the question”.