The Student Army Of Burma
A few years ago I lived in one of the ABSDF's seven military camps along the Thai/Indonesian/ Chinese border. The All Burma Students' Democratic Front are a student army fighting for democracy in their home nation. They formed in November of 1988
01 July 2007, 12:00am
A few years ago I lived in one of the ABSDF’s seven military camps along the Thai/Indonesian/ Chinese border. The All Burma Students’ Democratic Front are a student army fighting for democracy in their home nation. They formed in November of 1988 after the nationwide 8888 (Aug. 8, 1988) democratic uprisings to end the one-party leadership of Burma that resulted in a bloody coup and the death of over 3,000 people across the country.
Click on images to enlarge ABSDF soldiers take Morse-code class every day. The instructor taps out messages and the guys write them down. Sometimes soldiers will be at a post listening for months to the junta and will need to relay the info back to their superiors.
For food we boiled the papaya leaves and vines that grew wild around the camp. The rice was chicken grade, with small rocks and rodent shit in it. When I first got there I thought it was fucking gross, but after a month I just picked it out. We ate that almost every single day.
This is the ABSDF war office, where training operations and planning are carried out. The actual location of the camp is a secret. All I can tell you is that it was a bitch to get to. Have you ever climbed up a waterfall? I have.
How this sweet Iron Maiden shirt got to the jungles of Burma is beyond me.
Click on images to enlarge Aung Than Lay was a hilarious prankster but an obedient soldier. He was one of the commander’s right-hand men. He was 23. I put up the sign but I’m pretty sure it was his idea that it should go on his barrack.
It’s morning and the soldiers are preparing to head out. The wire thing is rigged to an explosive. Their patrol groups are small and they can’t guard everywhere so they lay these around villages when they stop to rest and treat the ill.
Tuay Aun couldn’t wait to go to the front lines. His oldest brother and father were dead, and his mother lived in a Thai refugee camp, where most of the kids ended up fucking and making babies. Bad scene.
The guy on the far right is named Pouson. He could stand while holding a beer bottle in one foot. He was strong and a martial-arts master. Click on images to enlarge
This guy was a goofball—he was really loud and always pulling pranks. He couldn’t speak much English and called me Canada because I’m from Toronto.
A scarf is your best friend in the heat. You use it as a sweat rag or head wrap.
I caught dengue fever and had to leave for a few weeks before they would let me back into the camps. I went to Mae Sot and volunteered and bummed around the refugee camps. The youngest children in the camps were shy, but they quickly learn how to smile and be coy with foreigners, because we usually have candy and pencils.
Tank Boy (foreground) and Uncle Small (background) would never let me actually see any actual violent confrontations, but they wanted to share the experience with me in some way, so we went out to the jungle for some action on the front lines.