Skip navigation
Help

Kachin Independence Army

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /var/www/vhosts/sayforward.com/subdomains/recorder/httpdocs/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

Burma is changing. On April 1, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi led the opposition National League for Democracy to victory in by-elections hailed as a landmark for the Southeast Asian nation. The win capped a raft of other shifts since the country’s military rulers ceded power to a quasi-civilian government last year. President U Thein Sein—a former general and one of this year’s TIME 100 honorees—has freed selected political prisoners, loosened the state’s grip on the media and signed peace agreements with ethnic rebels. But there are exceptions to the positive news from the country, notably the ongoing conflict in Kachin State.

As this series of photographs taken by Mexican photojournalist Narciso Contreras illustrates, the remote northern region is still at war. Following the collapse in June 2011 of a 17-year ceasefire between the Burmese army and ethnic Kachin rebels, violence has become an almost daily occurrence. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch claimed that the Burmese military has murdered, tortured and raped civilians. And, although they  also accuse the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) of “serious abuses, including using child soldiers and antipersonnel landmines,” most of the crimes outlined in this latest report were allegedly committed by the Burmese military.

The report is based on testimony from more than 100 people living in two camps for  internally displaced people in Kachin State and across the border in China’s Yunnan province. It finds that Burmese soldiers have deliberately and indiscriminately attacked civilians, tortured children as young as 14, raped women, pillaged properties and razed homes. By the organization’s estimates, the violence has displaced some 75,000 and forced men as old as 70 into labor on the conflict’s front lines.

There have been some gestures at peace. Burmese President Sein has made repeated calls for the military to cease offensive actions in Kachin and use only defensive measures. His government has held seven rounds of talks with the KIA, most recently in the border town of Ruili. However, those talks ended without agreement last month. The government cannot control the Army, they go their own way,” said Laphai Naw Din, editor of the Thailand-based Kachin News Group.

Meanwhile, the clashes continue. Contreras’ pictures, alongside accounts by other journalists and NGO workers who have recently visited the area, show both sides preparing for a long fight. For the civilians and soldiers on the front lines, change can’t come soon enough.

Joe Jackson works at TIME’s Hong Kong bureau.

To see more recent work from Burma check out Aung San Suu Kyi’s Path to Victory by James Nachtwey

0
Your rating: None

Is the recent political thaw in Myanmar genuine? Democratic elections are coming to the long-reclusive southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, formerly Burma. A long military dictatorship has nominally ended, and the regime has signed peace treaties with several ethnic separatist insurgencies. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's long house arrest is over, and she is campaigning for a seat in Parliament in the upcoming April 1 vote. Western investment is beginning to mass, which may ultimately be the reason the country is finally opening its doors. Other speculation on the thaw points to the incompetent emergency response to Cyclone Nargis in 2008, which left as many as 140,000 dead and sowed deep dissatisfaction with the government. Whatever the reasons for the unprecedented opening, the isolated and impoverished Burmese people are eager to reconnect with and catch their more developed neighbors in ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations. While it's impossible to represent every corner of any nation, collected here are images from the last couple of months in Myanmar, a nation of 55 million. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total)
A child waits for the arrival of Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Pyar Pon in the Irrawaddy Delta region on February 17, 2012. She wears thanaka on her face, a paste made from wood bark popularly used as both a beauty cosmetic and protection from the sun. (Soe Than Win/AFP/Getty Images)

Add to Facebook
Add to Twitter
Add to digg
Add to StumbleUpon
Add to Reddit
Add to del.icio.us
Email this Article

0
Your rating: None