Karen man’s journey takes him from a Burmese jungle to a life in Minnesota

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

IbrahimHirsiIllo400One thing Saw Poe Thay Doh experienced at age 7 still remains fresh in his mind: seeking refuge in the jungle as the Burmese army burned his village to the ground.

“I was very afraid of them,” he said of the regime, which continues to target and persecute people of his Karen ethnicity, a group that’s been fighting for separation since Burma, also known as Myanmar, gained independence from Britain in 1948.“They [would have] killed us all if they saw us.”

When Doh emerged from hiding, he entered a Thai refugee camp and lived with his grandfather, Padoh Mahn Sha Lah Phan, a prominent opposition leader.

Even though life in the camp didn’t provide Doh all the basic needs, he said it was better than living in the jungle. “There was no place to sleep,” he added. “No food or clean water.”

Rainy seasons were particularly dreadful, he added.

In the camp, however, there was at least a place to call home. Plus, he was able to visit a nearby United Nations food station twice a month and collected free rice, beans, oil and salt, among other things.

But in 2008, his grandfather Phan, who spent decades fighting on behalf of Karen state and its people, was assassinated.

Continue reading at MinnPost

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.


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