The For-Refugees, By-Refugees Newspaper That Prints in Six Different Languages
Buffalo has become an unlikely haven for displaced people from far and wide. A one-of-a-kind publication helps them find their footing in a strange new land.
Photos by Luke Copping | Edited by Michael Stahl
Every night for three years, after everyone else was asleep, Ze Yar Swe would hide in the corner of his prison cell and secretly read newsmagazines in English, a language he did not know.
“There was a corner that had some light, not a lot of light, but that’s where I would read,” he remembers. He used them as a tool, in tandem with a Burmese-English and English-Burmese dictionary, to teach himself English.
Yar Swe served jail time between 2002 and 2005 in Shwedo, Myanmar. Arrested for attending a protest against a member of the military who was accused of rape, he was well aware of the risks of being caught reading the magazines his friends had smuggled in.
“If they caught you with even a pencil, they [could] add five years to your prison sentence,” Yar Swe says. But that fear did not stop him. One of the prisoners who brought magazines like Newsweek and Time into the prison also served as a mentor, helping him understand grammar rules. The…
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