Fleeing oppression in Burma, emigré lands in Carbondale
This month's featured immigrant is a political refugee from Burma, also called Myanmar. He fled the country in 1998 and came to the United States, where he has been granted asylum. Maung is not his real name. He asked for anonymity to protect his relatives who remain in Burma. Maung is now 40 and lives in Carbondale.
Gallacher: You mentioned before the interview that you were Christian. How was it to be Christian in a Buddhist country?
Maung: It was hard to get a job. I am Kachin from the north of Myanmar. So I was not Burmese and I was Christian. There was a lot of discrimination. My grandparents and my parents are Christian, so I grew up a Christian.
Gallacher: How did you manage to get out?
Maung: My parents bribed an official, and he got our legal immigration papers for us. In my country you can bribe anybody if you have the money. There is a lot of corruption.
Gallacher: It must be hard for you to be exiled from your country.
Maung: Yes, it is very hard. The new leader says that everything is different and that all the refugees are welcome to come back. But how can we trust him after all that has happened? I am worried that if I did return I would disappear. Nobody really believes in our government yet.
If I could go back I would, because in my heart Burma is still my country, especially as I get older. I want to see my parents before they pass away.