Documentary Photographer James MacKay is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography. From his project ‘The Prison Without Bars’. To see James’ body of work click on any image.
Burma’s non violent revolution has seen thousands detained for their political activities and beliefs. There are currently more than 2,000 political prisoners in Burma but over 10,000 have been detained throughout the years in a country where any form of dissent to the military regime’s rule will result in arbitrary arrest and torture. The cycle of oppression against political prisoners does not end in prison where conditions are inhumane. Once released their lives are shattered as they are forcibly outcast from society by the authorities who intimidate, harass and often re-arrest them at any given moment. Their lives are taken from them as even families and friends live in fear of association with them. Left with no choice or chance of life many flee the country often with just the clothes on their back arriving at the Thai-Burma border where they face the challenge to rebuild their lives and continue their fight for democracy whilst trying to survive as illegal and unwanted refugees.
Life on the Thai-Burma border is dangerous for former political prisoners who are not officially recognized by the UNHCR as refugees. Before 2007 many were able to gain resettlement to third countries, but over 100 remain in limbo in refugee camps or safe houses faced with the constant threat of deportation back to Burma by the Thai authorities at any moment. In this ongoing long term project, from the refugee camps that are scattered along the border with Burma to the safe houses of Mae Sot to those who have been resettled to third countries on the other side of the world, the daily lives of Burma’s former political prisoners are documented as they continue their fight in the struggle to bring democracy to Burma as well as their own personal fight for freedom.