Along the Thai-Burma border, we meet the women peace activists working in the midst of the world’s longest running civil war. In the Karen language, Kawthoolei is the name of a mythical homeland in eastern Burma (Myanmar). The Karen people have been struggling for control of this land for nearly 60 years. This conflict between the Burmese military regime and the Karen National Union is now considered the world’s longest running civil war. There are numerous reports of ethnic cleansing, and hundreds of thousands of Burmese and ethnic refugees have flooded western Thailand, yet this conflict is often overlooked by the western media.
In a northern Thai border town nestled against a jungle river that divides Thailand from Burma, a group of Burmese Karen hill tribe women are meeting in secret. A few dozen gather at the end of a dirt lane speckled with roosters and giggling children in a wooden house that belongs to one of their leaders. Most of the women live in crowded refugee camps scattered along the Thai border.