“I cannot go back to Burma, Teacher. They will kill me.“
A mix of memoir, travelogue, and history, The Shan: Refugees without a Camp recounts the trials and triumphs of Shan youth, who have escaped slow genocide in Burma by fleeing to Thailand. There they study English and tell stories about life in Burma, where Shan men serve as human minesweepers for Burmese soldiers searching for insurgents. They talk about the danger of death by starvation, beating, or bullets in a country where poor Shan women often become prostitutes and young Shan girls are raped by Burmese soldiers.
The refugees stories are interspersed with reminiscences about the author s own life. Under the eye of the military, she travels in Burma to see the persecution students experienced, but finds that trouble areas are off limits to tourists and that the peaceful facade of cities is maintained by polite, helpful, and poverty-stricken people. They are stories of tragedy, hope, and love.
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