Free Burma Rangers

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The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) are a mainly Christian pro-active, pro-democracy humanitarian group who work throughout Burma (also known as Myanmar) but concentrate primarily on the heavily forested border region, delivering emergency medical assistance to sick and injured internally displaced people, or IDP's; a consequence of the long running campaign of violence by the military junta, the State Peace and Development Council, against Burma's ethnic minorities.

FBR trains teams of men and women in frontline medical treatment and reconnaissance techniques. In addition to delivering humanitarian relief, a secondary role of the teams is to obtain evidence of military violence and human rights abuse. This information is then published in the form of online reports and / or released to larger international human rights groups, inter-governmental organisations such as the UN, and news agencies.

FBR is one of a number of grass roots organisations (see Mae Tao Clinic [1] & Back Pack Health Worker Team [2]) which have emerged in response to the growing health needs of Burma’s persecuted ethnic underclass. FBR are not supported by either the Thai or Burmese authorities and their activity inside the Burmese border is clandestine.

Mission statement[edit]

History[edit]

FBR was formed in the late 1990s following an escalation of Burmese military activity against the Karen people. Villages were destroyed, people killed and more than 100,000 people forced from their homes [1] in a program of violence which was designed to remove people from land in order to make way for developing business interests.[2]

The history, character and on-going activity of the Rangers is closely linked to its American founder, Tha-U-Wah-A-Pah (the assumed Karen pseudonym, henceforth TUWAP of Dave Eubank): a Fuller Theological Seminary-educated Pastor and ex-member of the U.S. Special Forces. Having already spent a number of years as a missionary in Burma, in 1996, following a chance meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy, TUWAP was inspired to initiate a ‘Global Day of Prayer’ [3] and help to strengthen unity between the majority Burman population and the various minority ethnic groups.[3] TUWAP was then in Burma during the Army Offensives of 1997, distributing medicine to those displaced by the conflict, and it was during this time that he decided to employ his broad mixture of skills to bring a unique brand of humanitarian relief to a greater number.

In the words of the FBR leader, “[The situation in Burma] is a slow, creeping cancer, in which the regime is working to dominate, control, and radically assimilate all the ethnic peoples of the country.”[4]

In January 2013 footage obtained by the Free Burma Rangers and released to the world's media was instrumental in stopping continued Burmese military offensives against the Kachin Independence Army in the north of Myanmar.[5]

FBR Teams[edit]

Every year about 15 multi-ethnic teams, including representatives from the Karen, Karenni, Shan, Arakan, Kachin and other ethnic groups complete the intensive Ranger training. The training program is delivered with the help of other specialist organisations, including the Mae Tao Clinic and covers a diverse and comprehensive mix of practical relief, survival skills and socio-political awareness, including:

  • ethnic issues
  • ethics
  • conflict resolution
  • public health
  • first aid
  • advanced medical and basic dental care
  • human rights interviewing and documentation
  • reporting
  • counselling

Break down of full-time relief teams by ethnic origin

Overview of FBR relief operations since 1997

Total teams trained: 300

Relief missions conducted: over 1,000

Patients treated: over 550,000

People helped: over 1,200,000 [6]

Free Burma Rangers and Rambo[edit]

The film Rambo 4 was released worldwide in early 2008, with Sylvester Stallone continuing his role as the eponymous hero. In it, a fictionalised Burmese military played the role of the 'evil oppressors' and, although the film didn't make it to Burmese cinema screens, it became a huge underground success amongst the Burmese population.[7] It is interesting to note that research for the movie was obtained, in large part, from FBR field reports.[8]

While there is a dearth of information about the atrocities taking place inside Burmese borders, the evidence which groups like FBR make available helps to build a case for the international community to take action against the regime.

News and other related media[edit]

  • Mizara, S. 'Free Burma Rangers'. [4]
  • Samuels, L., 2007.'Burma's other Struggle'. Newsweek, 5 October [5]
  • YouTube: [6]. NB. Please be warned that some of the films contain disturbing images.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.freeburmarangers.org/who-we-are/
  2. ^ "Burma Issues Home Page". Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  3. ^ (p.186) Rogers, B., 2004. 'A Land Without Evil: Stopping the Genocide of Burma's Karen People'. Michigan, US: Kregel Publications
  4. ^ Robert D. Kaplan (1 September 2008). "Lifting the Bamboo Curtain". The Atlantic. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Video shows Burma military 'targeting Kachin rebels'". BBC. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Free Burma Rangers Annual Report 2013 http://www.freeburmarangers.org/download/main/permanent/2013%20Free%20Burma%20Ranger%20Annual%20Report.pdf
  7. ^ Post Publishing PCL. "Akkharaphongpricha name withdrawn - Bangkok Post: topstories". Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Coventry Telegraph: Coventry news, sport, lifestyle and events". coventrytelegraph. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 

External links[edit]