The Burmese girl who lost her home and her freedom

Hser Hser is a young girl from Shwe Kokko, a border town between Thailand and Myanmar. Her family just lost their land. And now, she has to work at a Chinese casino, where she is treated as a slave.

Shwe Kokko is a town by the border of Thailand and Myanmar that has been overrun by unregulated Chinese led-development. A company called Yatai International Holdings Group, owned by a Chinese fugitive, and the Border Guard Force, a division of the Myanmar military Tatmadaw, have partnered up to build a “smart city”. Out of reach from Myanmar’s authority, Shwe Kokko has become a hub for human trafficking and illegal gambling.

The developers touted the project as a Belt and Road Initiative. But it seemed like China has distanced itself from this project. However, the illegal coup by the junta in 2021 has distracted the national army. This meant that business went on as usual in Shwe Kokko. 


失去了家园和自由的缅甸姑娘 (2021)

This video is the story of a young girl named Hser Hser whose family was forced to sell their land to the Border Guard Force. As the eldest child, she had to find work, and ended up working at a Chinese casino, where she is treated as a slave. Furthermore, she was only allowed to call her family once a month, and was forbidden to tell anyone about her working conditions. This story is common in Shwe Kokko and other Special Economic Zones.

This video is commissioned by Innovation for Change – East Asia. It is part of the project ‘Stories of the Impact of China’s BRI’, which features eight stories about communities who are severely impacted by projects that fall under China’s BRI or other Chinese-led development. For each story, we brought together a local community partner and an artist/storyteller. The local community partner did the research and analysis of the issues at stake for their community. After that, the artist/storyteller, with the guidance of a story curator, turned the research into a story. Featuring stories from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, this project aims to show the range of adverse impacts brought on by developments that do not listen to the concerns of the affected communities. In amplifying their voices, we hope they can be heard.

The names of the storyteller, the illustrator and the local community partner are withheld for their security.


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