Borderlands of Burma
Karen refugees flee a military offensive to neighboring Thailand the day after national elections in Burma. Mae Sot, Thailand November 8, 2010. Photographs and text by Carey Russell.
A day after Burma's national election in November of 2010, an estimated 5,000 refugees spilled across the border into Thailand to escape an armed offensive between Burma's military regime and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, a militia democratic and Buddhist in name only and historically allied to the military junta. The largely ethnically Karen refugees were escorted by Thai military personnel to a nearby army base out of concern of them adding to the nearly 150,000 Burmese refugees that already populate the nine official refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border. After two days of over-crowding, families within the burgeoning crowd began to weigh their options as some chose to return home amidst the fighting, while others jumped over the perimeter walls to join the 1.4 million Burmese already living in Thailand as immigrant laborers. Few doubted the outcome of the election, which resulted in a landslide victory for the military dictatorship.