“Those Who Wish to Live Beyond Conflict”

Maw Oo Myar

You will arrive to Saw Lon Village where the Saw Lon Saw Bwar (Former Chief), Saw Pyar Sala Phaw, lived formerly after taking about half an hour (by car) drive if you travel further to eastern part of Bawlekeh Town.

The village has transportation difficulty although it is closed to the town. They even could not access the telephone line, and the transportation road is very bad for vehicle travel as it has been constructed for long time ago.

Although the village has small household numbers, its history gives the audiences with both the sympathy and misery, and it also give the feeling like you are watching a sad movie.

In last visit to Saw Lon Village on May 24, a local woman, aged around 60, chewing betel nut and shared about Saw Lon Village including the hard time of the villagers and hers during the unstable political situation due to conflict among arm groups.

“It would be great if no need to flee. There are plenty of cattle in the past, and you can cultivate farm. Besides, it is enough for every year. You don’t need to worry about it. But for now, no more land to farm and no more cattle. The life becomes struggling every day for daily food, or you borrow money and repay the debt. We have to struggle for our living like this.” said a local woman, Daw Poe Meh (Anonymous), about their village’s current life struggle, which she was sharing about it with fake smile and worried eyes for family’s daily food.

Saw Lon Village is one of the villages which suffered from the four cuts, the whole Kayah (Karenni) State experienced it during the armed conflict in 1990-2000.

Most of the other villages had abandoned from their home around year 1994-96, and the whole Saw Lon Village was abandoned in 1999.

During the flee from four cuts, most of the villages including Saw Lon Village were lost and destroyed their homes, properties, buffalos, and bulls. The locals added about their hyper-hard time during their displacement to Bawlekhe Town since they received only minor support of food with short time.

Daw Poe Meh (Anonymous), who has two sons, told that her husband passed away after suffered severe health problem because he had to travel in rain whole time during the flee from Four Cuts.

Besides, the life of her older son also became differently able person till today due to the injury which he accidently slipped from work just after their return from flee.

“If we didn’t have to flee, my husband would not pass away. As we had to flee, we become poor, hard life, and could not have enough food, malnutritioned, could not feed my children snack, and now I am struggling and living with my differently able son and grandson. Only our grandson works and supports us.” Daw Poe Meh (Anonymous) staring at her differently able son and told about it with a face full of hope that they would overcome these hardships if her husband would be with them.

The locals told that they decided to return home after the political situation became stable since it was very difficult to make living for them as they were poor farmers while living in Bawlekhe Town.

They also said they had to spend their lives for almost three years with small tents in farm because it was hard to inhabit back directly to the village.

There was an occasion that one of the Saw Lon villagers, the elder named U Boe Reh, lost parts of his body due to the landmine during the conflict occurred before the Four Cuts.

He was hit from landmine for two times. He lost one of his legs due to the landmine at aged 13.

In 1999, the Kayah (Karenni) State residents faced with the tragedy (the Four Cuts), and U Boe Reh was hit the second landmine and injured another leg.

In the second landmine hit to his right leg, he did not lose his leg; but the gunpowder hit to his lower part of body including his waist.
Now U Boe Reh has one son and two daughters. He uses crutches for his body movement.

The Saw Lon villagers including U Boe Reh household mainly farm sesame for family income and it could only support family with limited amount.

“We have various difficulties. Our work is also not going well.”, U Boe Reh explained about the current hardship Saw Lon villagers are experiencing.

“I sometimes think a bit about it. We can’t have pure peace in reality. Our return to village is also like you are flying or swaying in the sky. Peace is also just like this, as we are swaying in the air.” U Boe Reh talked about the current peace implementing by government and arm groups in Kayah (Karenni) State.

The Saw Lon villagers including U Boe Reh wish to spend their lives beyond the arm conflict, but the fear of past experience still influencing their mind whether it would happen again. I believe the local people of Kayah (Karenni) State are expecting like Saw Lon villagers to pass their time with peace, and it would also be the same that every person over the globe would also expect like this too.

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