Who are the Burma Rangers?
The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) is a multi-ethnic humanitarian movement determined to assist the displaced people of Burma by offering shelter, food, protection and love. Free Burma Rangers are volunteers that are trained in education, medical care, or other areas of expertise and sent into war zones to provide emergency medical care, spiritual and education resources as well as shelter, food, clothing, and documentation of human rights to the displaced people of Burma. The Free Burma Rangers also collect evidence of human rights abuse and military violence and distribute these information among outside humanitarian groups as well as the UN and media groups.
There are 3 requirements of Free Burma Rangers:
1. Love – this is purely volunteer work and is very taxing on each individual. There must be true passion and love behind each individual’s motives in order to be a Free Burma Ranger.
2. Ability to read and write – this is necessary for medical and legal documentation.
3. Physical and moral courage – physical strength and endurance is necessary to travel to areas under fire, as well as assisting with possessions or physically unable refugees. Burma Rangers are also expected to stand in the face of danger and remain with their refugees if the people they are helping cannot flee.
Since 1997, when the FBR was organized, over 110 teams have been trained and used in multiple conflict zones throughout Burma, conducting over 350 mission of 1-2 months within these conflict regions.
The mission statement of the Free Burma Rangers:
“To bring help, hope and love to people of all faiths and ethnicities in the conflict zones of Burma, to shine a light on the actions of oppressors, to stand with the oppressed and support leaders and organizations committed to liberty, justice and service.” (Free Burma Rangers, 2013)
The logo of FBR:
“Love each other. Unite and work for freedom, justice, and peace. Forgive and don’t hate each other. Pray with faith, act with courage, never surrender.” (Free Burma Rangers, 2013)
History of the Burma rangers
The creator of the Free Burma Rangers has remained anonymous due to the nature of the work he does, but is known as Father of the White Monkey or Tha U Wa A Pa in Karen. He is a retired American Special Operations Officer who discovered the plight of the Burmese when visiting his father in Thailand. He started off crossing into the Thai-Burmese alone carrying in supplies to fleeing Karen people. His initial goal was to simple. To help and make a difference for at least one person. His modest goal has now expanded to 59 active free burma ranger teams.
Since 1997, when the FBR was organized, over 250 teams have been trained and used in multiple conflict zones throughout Burma, conducting over 350 mission of 1-2 months within these conflict regions. In 2010 they supplied medicine to over 100,000 patientsand continue to expand and connect Burmese refugees to one another. Since its origins 13 burma rangers have died in the field, including one who was caught and tortured to death by the Burmese Army.
Functions of the Burma Rangers
The Free Burma Rangers (FBR), conduct relief, advocacy, leadership development and unity missions among the people of Burma. The FBR doesn’t supply rangers with weapons and are told not to engage the Burma Army if possible. However they are free to carry weapons if they wish.
Relief: Free Burma Rangers are trained to provide medical,educational, spiritual, and general aid to Burmese people being oppressed by the government. They carry in supplies, create communication networks to warn people about attacks, FBR teams go on one to two month missions two to four times a year.
Leadership: During these missions they also conduct leadership training among the displaced and oppressed people in order that they might also help themselves and others. They document human rights violations and report them to the authorities.
Advocacy: FBR reports regularly on the situation inside Burma, sending information to supporters, news media, other NGOs and governments. In addition, FBR supports the annual Global Day of Prayer for Burma.
How do you get involved?
Every Free Burma Ranger is a volunteer and is not paid money by the organization. The Free Burma Rangers are a non-profit organization that is supplied purely by volunteers and donations.
Many volunteers come from other humanitarian groups that join forces with the Free Burma Rangers. To become an active FBR takes about 1 month to a year depending on which training program an individual pursues.
There are about five different training programs:
“• Northern Karen State: FBR’s largest training, conducted in the fall, generally includes multiple ethnic groups and a one-month follow on mission, including the GLC school tour. Training includes both basic and advanced classes.
• Southern Karen State: training of Mergui-Tavoy FBR teams, generally conducted in late summer, lasting for one month.
• Shan State: training of Shan and occasionally Karenni FBR teams, conducted in the spring, lasting approximately 6 weeks.
• Other trainings: conducted as logistics, personnel and time permit, on invitation from specific groups.
• The Jungle School of Medicine-Kawthoolei: pilot medical school program to provide a one year training for beginning medics that includes a clinical setting.” (Free Burma Rangers, 2013)
The organization also accepts donations or other contributions which help to allow the FBR’s to continue their assistance in Burma and acquire proper supplies to properly care for the refugees they help. (Free Burma Ranger, 2013)
More information on the Free Burma Rangers can be found on their website at www.freeburmarangers.org
Alex, Ellgee. N.p.. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/110224/burma-myanmar-karen-junta>.
“About FBR Free Burma Rangers.” Home Free Burma Rangers. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://www.freeburmarangers.org/about/>
Adam, Skolnick. N.p.. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://www.outsideonline.com/adventure-travel/asia/myanmar/The-Jesus-Kissed-War-Fringed-Love-Swirled-Rangers.html>.