Vanity Fair has an interesting selection of photos taken by Roberto D’Addona on a 2007 trip to a Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) base near the Thailand-Burma border. D’Addona also provides an account of his brief foray across the border. Readers with an interest in these issues, and particularly those who have followed recent New Mandala discussions of foreign fighters linking up with the Karen National Liberation Army, will find much of what is said quite interesting.

D’Addona’s analysis of the border situation is problematic but, given what he saw in his brief time across the border, his take seems like a reasonable misunderstanding of the difficult conditions under which Burma’s ceasefires are maintained. But there are questions: Who was the “United Nations peacekeeper” who went with him? And don’t the DKBA and the tatmadaw have a long-standing ceasefire (for over a decade…not just for two days!)? Don’t they still, more often than not, undertake joint operations against their shared enemies?

On reflection, to my eye, his account of life at the DKBA camp raises many more questions that it answers. I would like to know much more…

…and, on that note, if any New Mandala readers have spent time in a DKBA camp in the past few years it would be great to hear from you.

Regardless of what he took away from his time with the DKBA, it does appear that D’Addona and company received a warm welcome as “representatives” from abroad. That, in itself, is a notable part of the story. Readers who are new to the DKBA – and want to get a taste of how they fit in to the border scene – may find these brief summaries useful. And thanks, of course, to Ashley for drawing my attention to the Vanity Fair pictures.