Free Burma Rangers (FBR) is a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement working to bring help, hope and love to people in the conflict areas of Burma, Iraq, and Sudan. Working alongside indigenous pro-democracy groups, FBR trains, supplies and coordinates Ranger teams to help provide emergency medical care, shelter, food, clothing and human rights documentation.
In addition to relief and reporting, other results of the teams’ actions are the development of leadership capacity, civil society and the strengthening of inter-ethnic unity. The teams are to avoid contact with the Burma Army or other attacking forces and operate under the protection of the ethnic resistance armies. However, they cannot run away if the people they are helping cannot escape the attacks. Men and women of many ethnic groups and religions are part of FBR.
The Three Requirements for Team Members
1. Love – Each volunteer should be motivated by love.
2. Physical and moral courage – Volunteers must have to have the physical strength and endurance to be able to walk to crisis areas, and the moral courage to stand with those under attack.
3. Ability to read and write – Due to medical, informational and documentation requirements, literacy in at least one language is required.
To free the oppressed and to stand for human dignity, justice and reconciliation in Burma.
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.
- To inspire, train and equip people in Burma to bring positive change through acts of love and service.
- To provide immediate medical assistance, shelter, food, clothing, educational materials and other humanitarian aid in the war zones and to improve logistics and medical evacuation.
- To develop the Information Network of Burma that documents, reports and disseminates accounts of human rights violations and provides an early warning system of Burma Army attacks.
- To provide prayer and counseling for victims of human rights abuses and to support programs for women and children.
- To train, equip and sustain indigenous humanitarian relief teams in the field.
The Free Burma Rangers were formed during the Burma Army offensives of 1997, when villages were destroyed, people killed and over 100,000 people fled their homes; over 1 million people are still displaced inside Burma. In the face of the overwhelming force by the Burma Army, the Free Burma Rangers was formed with the idea that no one can stop people from giving love and serving one another.
During this time the Ethnic Nationalities Seminar at Mae Tha Ra Hta was coordinated and supported by FBR; and the Global Day of Prayer was initiated after Dave Eubank met with Aung San Suu Kyi in 1996.
The first team training took place in 2001, and 2005 saw the first training for full-time teams. Each step taken to grow the Free Burma Rangers has been at the request of the local ethnic leadership.
Since 1997, FBR has trained over 250 multi-ethnic relief teams and there are 71 full time teams active in the Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Kayan, Lahu, Mon, Naga, Pa-Oh, Shan and Ta’ang areas of Burma. The teams have conducted over 800 humanitarian missions of 1-2 months into the war zones of Burma. On average around 1000 patients are treated per mission with 2,000 more people helped in some way. The teams have treated over 500,000 patients and helped over 1,100,000 people.
The Free Burma Rangers (FBR), conduct relief, advocacy, leadership development and unity missions among the people of Burma.
Relief: FBR teams provide emergency medical, educational, spiritual, material and general assistance to people who suffer under oppression in Burma. Teams move throughout the conflict and crisis areas to give aid and comfort and also conduct leadership training, as well as medical, educational, reporting and general capacity building for people inside Burma. Teams also document human rights violations and report to the relevant authorities. Priority of assistance goes to the Internally Displaced People (IDP), of Burma as well as to those who’s villages have recently been attacked by the Burma Army. FBR teams stand in solidarity with those who suffer and assist people of all races and faiths.
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.
Leadership: In addition to relief and reporting, other results of the teams’ actions are the development of leadership capacity, civil society and the strengthening of inter-ethnic unity. The FBR conducts leadership development and communications training in order to strengthen civil society, build leadership capacity and develop communications. Communications tools such as radio broadcasts, cassette tapes, print media are used in the ongoing effort for reconciliation and unity.
Ethnic Unity: FBR helps coordinate annual seminars between the ethnic groups of Burma as well as the pro-democracy Burmans.
- 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: a medical school program to provide a one year training for beginning medics that includes a clinical setting.
Currently there are 71 active Free Burma Ranger teams, each of which goes on approximately 2-4 missions a year. These missions are conducted in the teams’ home areas and are under the direction of FBR coordinators and local leaders.
FBR helps to manage patient care for select patients who are evacuated to receive advanced medical care.
FBR is involved in many other projects as well, including support for a border hostel for Karen children, a hostel for Wa children, and several border clinics.