Mulania Bathin

Mulania Bathin | Burma

Mulania Bathin is a former political refugee from the Burma-Thailand border and comes from an ethnic Karen background. Both of Ms. Bathin’s maternal and paternal grandfathers were members of the Karen National Union (KNU), a democratic political organization that has been waging war against the Burmese military junta (also known as the Tatmadaw) since Burma gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1948. Due to the world’s longest ongoing civil war, many Karen people were internally displaced. Ms. Bathin was born as a stateless person in Mae Sot, Thailand to parents from Karen State, Burma. In 1988, the Tatmadaw killed thousands of protestors across Burma. However, the government’s official count was 350. In 1992, the Tatmadaw captured Manerplaw, the headquarters of KNU, and thousands of Karen people fled. Like many others, she and her family spent several nights in the jungle before finding temporary safety in a refugee camp provided by the Thai government. 

Ms. Bathin spent her formative years bouncing around several refugee camps. Even after leaving and being undocumented in Bangkok, Thailand, she still experienced fear of being deported to Burma, a country she had never been to. At age 11, with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), she immigrated to the U.S. with her mother and older brother, settling in Connecticut. Ms. Bathin became a naturalized U.S. citizen through the derivation of citizenship law. At 17, she finally belonged to a country. Ms. Bathin graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree. 

After college, she moved to Colorado and worked in her community, and became a member of the Denver Immigrant and Refugee Commission. She has worked both in the public and private sectors. Now, she is a freelance court interpreter in her native language S’gaw Karen, in an open court, a language so taboo to speak in public as a child in fear of deportation.