Tapestry Charter features Burmese photographer

Feb 12, 2013

While Burma or Myanmar may be halfway around the world from Buffalo, there is a growing Burmese community here.  Students at Tapestry Charter School  in Buffalo are learning about the South Asian country through photography.

Burmese photographer and activist Law Eh Soe is part of a long-term study of human rights by Tapestry's tenth graders. He appeared at the school Monday.  

Burmese photographer and activist Law Eh Soe
Credit WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond

The local resident is a law school graduate and photographer who left Burma when it was suggested to him he would be safer somewhere else, far from the government and far away from where he had photographed brutality by government security forces.

But in Buffalo, Eh Soe is part of a growing community of Burmese, with more than 8,000 now living in the city. 

Eh Soe says his fellow refugees here are building a community, but it's very different from Burma.

"Ninety percent of the people from Burma, they see they do not cast on the different country, they see that they cast on a different planet. It's totally different: the language barrier, the culture...especially the people from the refugee camps, it's totally different," said Eh Soe.

Eh Soe says there is a Burmese restaurant for older refugees to eat the food they remember from their villages and even grow some of the foods themselves on the West Side.

The pictures on the Tapestry's school walls are an attempt to tell the story of the village and a military government.  The lobby of the school's new building on Great Arrow is decorated with photography from refugee Eh Soe.  

Photograph by Law Eh Soe
Credit WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond

The pictures  display not only life in the rural villages, but also security forces crushing any dissent against 60 years of military rule. 

Eh Soe points to a picture of a ferry across the thousand-mile Irrawaddy River.

"It's already over 1,000 miles. So, that's why like along the river for the small village to village, they have to travel like by the small boat in that area," said Eh Soe.