April 13, 2021

Refugee youth from Burma speak out in the universal language of narrative art

25 April 2015 — Children forced to run away from brutalities inflicted by Burma’s successive regimes reveal through watercolor drawings their ‘daunting’ life stories as refugees.

A book containing a collection of narrative art by and about youth from Burma entitled Forced to Flee: Visual Stories by Refugee Youth from Burma, published last month, bears witness to real-life situations facing refugee children today.

Hayso Thako, Principal, Shalom Arts and Leadership College in Mae La refugee camp along the Thai-Burma border, said: “In Forced to Flee, refugee youths’ real-life stories illustrate complex issues related to ethnic conflicts, religious tension and political persecution in Burma.”

“The book doesn’t just describe the issues; it promotes the voice of refugees who have lived in exile for decades while remaining committed to bringing freedom and peace to their displaced communities.”

A statement by Erika Berg, author of this powerful new book, said that 196 of the youths’ “visual stories” bridge language and cultural barriers that have shielded the outside world from haunting, humbling and awe-inspiring truths behind Burma’s decades-long civil war.

The book is a testament to the indomitable spirit of those forced to flee injustice in Burma, and to the transformative power of art, the statement added.

Many of the visual stories in Forced to Flee were painted by youth who fled conflict and persecution in Burma’s Chin State and found refuge in Aizawl, situated in India’s far northeastern Mizoram State, and in Delhi.

Rachel Fleming, advocacy director of the Chin Human Rights Organization, said: “Forced to Flee illustrates the incredible resilience of Burma’s ethnic youth in the face of horrific human rights abuses … The country’s leaders could learn so much from the visionary solutions so eloquently expressed here by the youth. They provide such hope for Burma’s future.”

The book concludes with an extensive “Ways to Help” appendix, which is also available on Forced to Flee‘s website: www.burmavisionsforpeace.org 

Forced to Flee “is dedicated to the courage, resilience and irrepressible hope of the refugee youth who dared to share their stories, to dream of peace.”

100% of the royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to peacebuilding efforts in Burma.

For a preview of Forced to Flee or to order a copy of the book online, please visit www.burmavisionsforpeace.org.#

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