In Karen State, Myanmar, a young fighter stands in the unfinished concrete skeleton of a church, a symbol of hope for the ethnic Karen community. Zayar, a 21-year-old Muslim who left Yangon to join the rebellion, reflects on the slow progress of construction and the constant threat of military air strikes. He, like many others, has joined the fight against Myanmar’s military rulers, shaped by the discriminatory portrayals and stereotypes spread by the country’s Bamar-dominated government.
The ongoing struggle for self-determination and democracy is fueled by the military’s history of suppressing the aspirations of ethnic minorities. In October, the Three Brotherhood Alliance, comprised of ethnic armed groups and Bamar fighters, launched an offensive against the military, achieving unprecedented victories. And while divisive tensions persist among various armed groups, Zayar looks towards unity as a driving force for a post-military Myanmar.
Joined by other fighters with diverse ethnic backgrounds, Zayar’s experience reflects the complex and paradoxical nature of the struggle, as splinter groups emerge and unity is put to the test. The journey towards unity is evident in the stories of individuals like Lar Phoe and Phue Phue, who have joined the armed resistance for a common cause, setting aside ethnic differences.
For Zayar, the fight for equality and recognition as a true citizen of Myanmar drives him forward, despite the personal sacrifices he has made. And while the future remains uncertain, the revolution is fueled by the determination of individuals like Phue Phue, driven by a deep sense of responsibility towards her fellow fighters, and a vision for a united Myanmar.