I am the person who lost the country in which he was born and raised and was denied by his native land as her citizen.
I am the subject of the documentary film Burma Soldier. I arrived in the USA on June 24, 2008, as a political refugee at the age of 45. We the people of Burma are born with fear, live with fear and die with fear.
I have been a victim of civil war, of land mines, of human rights abuse and of crimes against humanity, as well as a former solider from the Burma Army, a refugee and political prisoner. As a solider I was sent to the front line many times to fight against ethnic armed resistance groups, including Burmese communists along the China-Burma border. I was wounded in the world’s longest civil war and discharged from the army that I used to serve.
Then I demanded, and am still demanding, that the Burmese military regime stop civil war and solve political issues in political ways and create meaningful political dialogue with all ethnic groups to establish Burma as a democratic society.
I was arrested and received a 17-year sentence. I was in various prisons for 15 years and was mentally and physically tortured as a political prisoner. All of my important documents, including my citizen registration card ,were seized when I was arrested and never given back to me. I applied for a new citizen registration card after my release but the government refused to issue me one.
So I became a person who lost the country in which I and my ancestors were born, raised and served as good citizens. I had no rights to move from one township to another without permission of Military Intelligence. I could not do anything without permission of MI. Even friends and relatives were not allowed to stay the night at my house. In short, I lost all of my human rights and civil rights. As I continued to demand the government stop human rights violations, they threatened to arrest me and send me to prison again. Finally, I made up my mind to flee and enter into a refugee camp in Thailand. Life as a refugee, as a person who has no documents, is very hard and I faced a lot of troubles.
In both Burma and Thailand, I had no government to protect me and no opportunity to legally serve and work for the benefit of the people. I had no flag to pledge allegiance to, no national anthem to sing. After three years in Thailand as a country-less person, I got the great opportunity to resettle peacefully for the rest of my life in a free and open society, the United States of America.
Sept. 20 was a significant and unforgettable day in my life. On that day I took the naturalization oath as a new citizen of the USA. I realize and understand my rights and responsibilities as a U.S citizen. Thanks to you, the people of the United States of America, I experienced freedom and democracy and became one of We the People. I now have the great opportunity to do better for the people who welcomed me warmly, allowed me to live with them and for the country that accepted me as her citizen.
Openly and frankly, I want to proclaim to the world that the United States of America has become my country and Burma is my native land. Now I am guaranteed the right to live and die as the citizen of a country. Though I am 50 years old, I have never in my life had the opportunity to vote and elect the people who govern the country and its people. Now I am very excited and anxious to finally know what it is to vote.