A Finnish website is reporting that “Mika” – a 28 year old who claims to be a former member of both the Finnish Army and the French Foreign Legion – has volunteered to fight in Burma with the Karen National Liberation Army. The website’s only source is a Bangkok Post article that I cannot find online at the moment.

Of course, this report isn’t actually as bizarre as it might initially seem.

Mika would not be the first foreign fighter to actively support Karen, Shan or Mon military activities along the Thai-Burma border. Phil Thornton’s great book, Restless Souls: Rebels, Refugees, Medics And Misfits On The Thai-Burma Border, is peppered with these sorts of characters.

For anybody with a deeper interest, other accounts of the border – from sources as diverse as the Democratic Voice of Burma, the BBC and an old copy of Asian Survey – have something to tell us about the role of “mercenaries” in Burma’s festering conflicts. Interestingly, I have never seen a book or article written by a foreign fighter. Of course, I may be missing something.

If any New Mandala readers have suggestions, or more information on this topic, please feel free to share your references and wisdom.