My name is Than Maung and I am 23 years old. I was born in Naung Htaw village, Shan state of Burma. My parents are both farmers and uneducated. They earn their living from farming. There are 10 members in my family. I finished 10th grade education in Burma in 2006. Because of the unrest of the political in Burma, I fled my native village to the Karenni Refugee camp in 2007. At the same time as arriving in the Refugee camp, I re-joined 10th grade again and finished it in 2009. Until I finished 10th grade in Burma, I had never heard about Human rights, the Environment, the Rule of law or Democracy. And most of my community lack of the knowledge of the Human Rights, the Environment, the Rule of Law and Democracy because we have no access to information and no opportunities to learn about it. Actually, these subjects are ignored by the SPDC government and they forbid this knowledge to be spread among of our people within Burma. And most of the people in Burma think that the idea of the rule of Law is just a concern of the government but not theirs. As a result, people who live in Burma are afraid of the Law and think its best not to interfere. In my opinion the awareness of the rule of law is very important and is essential for everyone to understand its concepts.
When I was inside Burma, I didn’t understand what rights I have and what rights I lost under the SPDC. At the same time, I also didn’t understand that I may have accidently abused other people’s rights, or even that we had rights. So, at that time my experiences and knowledge related to Human Rights, the Environment, the Rule of Law and Democracy was very bad. But, after finishing school in the Karenni Refugee camp, I tried to choose a future education which related to my interested in these subjects. According to my observations, the Karenni Social Development Center (SDC) offers subjects which match my interests and so I found it appropriate and useful for me to attend this training course that provided knowledge of Human Rights, etc. So, I made up my mind to apply and join to this training course. Eventually, I was chosen as a participant and since then I have learned a lot over course for 10 months. If to compare the education inside Burma with the present, my critical thinking, awareness, knowledge and motivation to change the situation has increased greatly. In my mind, if I think about myself before attending in this project, I would say I was a bit of an extremist but from my attendance in this project so far, I have become more a flexible and reasonable.
Before attending in this project, I didn’t understand about how important Law is to our community. But now I realize that the rule of law is an essential for our community to understand and follow. A lack of abidance to laws in our society means we will not able to get real peace, justice or development. Before the SDC, I did not really understand about the Child Rights either. before I used to hit my younger brothers to listen or tell them to obey me with whatever I asked them to do, but now my thoughts have changed very much and I try to treat them and other children as nonviolently as possible and attempt to instill self discipline in them to become educated and one day to develop into a good person or even a good leader. Before this project, I didn’t understand what the environment was. Now I have learnt a lot about it and believe that it is important to take care of it.
A Sound Environment is very important to our mental and physical health as a human being and also contributes to a healthy community and society as a whole. As a result, by attending in this project, I have gained a lot of knowledge and experienced how to preserve our Environment and prolong its existence so we can be in harmony with it, and preserve it for future generations. When I was inside Burma, I seen many instances that exploited the Environment such as cutting down the trees for logging, and now I seriously consider the consequences before cutting down any trees, or when buying wood I inquire where wood comes from.
In my opinion, the knowledge of the Human Rights, the Environment and the Rule of Law are very important and essential for our community and for our Burma today because most of Burmese people lack basic knowledge them. And as a result, many Human Rights violations, Environmental exploitation and Social injustice are often occurring in Burma. So, after finishing in this project, I hope to distribute and share the knowledge I’ve gained to our people especially those who are living inside Burma and dealing with these everyday issues. I hope to provide mobile training, workshops etc. So that our community will understand how to protect their own rights and others’ rights and how to preserve their Environment, use it sustainably and eventually understand the meaning of Earth Rights. I strongly believe that I will be able to serve my community in any institutions such as courts, governmental departments, community management etc. In my opinion, I would like to suggest that this project continues to run because it is very important to our community and is essential for our future generations growing up in Burma. I would like to encourage the teachers with in this project to continue promoting this project, because the knowledge being offered is a concern of everyone. And hopefully, when the political situation of Burma is stable again, everyone can learn and appreciate the knowledge that I have gained and the people of Burma will be able to achieve the real democratic system that is currently hoped for.