This collection of reports is the result of the hard work and dedication of fourteen young men and women from diverse ethnic groups and regions in Burma who attended EarthRights International’s year-long leadership school for human rights and environmental advocacy, the EarthRights School of Burma (ERSB). The students are eager to expose ongoing human rights abuses and environmental destruction in Burma under the ruling State Peace and Develop­ment Council (SPDC). While conducting research the students took great risks, often placing themselves in danger, to reveal the truth about Burma and the perspectives of the people directly affected by abuses.

The students were instructed in such subjects as human rights law, environmental monitoring, advocacy, and nonviolent social change. During coursework, each chose a topic and developed a thesis around it. During their fieldwork, students conducted grassroots investigations, gathered primary source information, and worked directly with victims of human rights abuses, while witnessing firsthand the pain and destruction caused by the SPDC and armed groups in Burma and on its borders.

This is only the second such volume produced by ERSB; for most students this represents the first time they have conducted in-depth research and writing and seen their work in print. It is a significant step on their way to becoming committed human rights and environmental activists. With their new skills the Class of 2008 now joins previous graduates of the EarthRights Schools of Burma and the Mekong in becoming a significant force for positive change, ready to meet the challenge of bringing much-needed peace, justice, and democracy to their troubled nation.