Bo Law was 7 years old when fighting erupted between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burmese Military in his village. Bo law, his pregnant mother, aunt and three year old brother fled into the jungle as their home and surrounding village was engulfed in flames. His father was not seen since. After living in the jungle for three months, his mother passed away while in labor. The rest of the family continued living in the jungle for over 3 years, constantly moving to avoid the military. Bo Law frequently had to carry his little brother, who, at the age of 3, was often two weak to handle the journey. The family fed themselves on what scrap they could find in the forest. When they got wind that the military situation started to calm down, 3 years after they first fled their burning village, they thought it might be safe to return, but upon arrival they saw that they had no family left, so journeyed to Loikaw, the capital of Karenni State.
Bo Law eventually made it to a refugee camp in Thailand where he discovered the Social Development Center, a human rights and development training center started by ERSB alumni, Aung Sun Myint. After studying for a year with SDC, he progressed on to their Advanced Management Training, and ultimately the EarthRights School Burma. Bo Law hopes that he can use this education to better understand his country and the underlying causes behind the devastating experience he and his family suffered and stop this kind of suffering in Burma.
Burma’s biggest cement factory is slated to be built in Bo Law’s home state. As these types of projects are commonly associated with human rights abuses, land confiscation, environmental degradation and livelihood destruction, Bo Law wants to prepare the surrounding villagers for the potential impacts and teach them how to fight for their rights. Significant amounts of land have already been confiscated in the area, leaving those villagers, whose livelihood is largely, if not solely, dependent on their land, with little means of survival. Often times, they have not even received compensation and if they have, it has been insufficient.
To prepare the villagers for future land confiscation and environmental damages, Bo Law plans to hold a five day training for 20 participants from 10 villages around the proposed cement factory. The training will equip them on knowledge of land law which will help them secure land titles and know their rights in a potential land confiscation situation. It will also equip them with knowledge of how to counter the negative environmental impacts of the cement factory. After the training, Bo Law will monitor the trainees and help them share their knowledge through conducting workshops and group discussions in their home villages.