TIME Burma

Burma Cracks Down on Education Protest at Rangoon Pagoda

Min Thu Kyaw, a student protest leader, talks to journalists March 5, 2015, in Yangon, Burma
Khin Maung Win—AP Min Thu Kyaw, a student protest leader, talks to journalists March 5, 2015, in Yangon, Burma

Students oppose Burma's new education law, which activists say restricts academic freedom

(RANGOON, Burma) — Police cracked down on students and other activists opposing Burma’s new education law Thursday, charging protesters with batons and dragging them into trucks at a landmark pagoda in the heart of the old capital.

Several demonstrators were slightly injured and at least 15 were arrested, witnesses and an activist said.

The protest in front of the Sule Pagoda in Yangon drew around 30 people, including prominent activist Nilar Thein and other student leaders. They were calling on the government to amend an education law they say restricts academic freedom.

Minutes after telling the group to disperse, baton-wielding police and thuggish men hired to carry out the crackdown started chasing down protesters.

Since Burma started moving from a half-century of brutal military rule toward democracy four years ago, the government has found itself grappling with the consequences of newfound freedoms of expression. Many of the early reforms that marked President Thein Sein early days in office have stalled or started rolling back, with particular sensitivities shown toward public rallies and criticism in the press.

Late Wednesday, police detained more than a dozen workers protesting for higher wages and better working conditions at factories in two industrial zones just outside Yangon. Hundreds of people have been arrested in the last four years, many of them farmers speaking out against land grabs by the rich and powerful.

In recent days, the government warned it would “take action” if student protesters who were stopped at a monastery in Letpadan tried marching to Yangon, 140 kilometers (95 miles) to the south.

The groups at Letpadan and at Sule Pagoda have similar aim: They want the government to scrap a law passed by parliament in September that puts all decisions about education policy and curriculum in the hands of a group largely made up of government ministers. Students say the law undermines the autonomy of universities, which are still struggling to recover after clampdowns on academic independence and freedom during the junta’s rule.

A prominent activist Kyaw Min Yu from the 88 Generation Open Society confirmed that at least a dozen people, including his wife, Nilar Thein, were arrested in Thursday’s crackdown. The couple were both former political prisoners during the days of dictatorship.

“Those detained are taken to an interrogation center and we are waiting for the news,” Kyaw Min Yu said.

“Authorities are using the old technique by needlessly cracking down the peaceful protesters,” he said.

TIME Burma

Thousands of Refugees Are Pouring Into China to Escape Fighting in Burma

People who are displaced by the fighting in Laukkai move towards a rescue convoy
Soe Zeya Tun — Reuters People displaced by the fighting in Burma's Laukai approach a rescue convoy on Feb. 17, 2015

Hopes for a prolonged truce appear to be fading in the war-torn nation

Burmese President Thein Sein granted the nation’s military wide-ranging powers this week to take the fight to ethnic Chinese rebels, after ongoing skirmishes in the country’s northeast sent thousands of refugees fleeing into neighboring China.

On Wednesday, the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar ran two notices on its front page signed by the President announcing the imposition of a state of emergency and martial law in the country’s embattled Kokang region.

Burma’s military chief Min Aung Hlaing, who largely made a name for himself after trouncing Kokang militants in 2009, will now be charged with bringing the insurgents to heel in any manner he sees fit.

Fighting continues to rage near the Chinese border with the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MDNAA), a Kokang militia, who commenced a brazen offensive against government positions near the town of Laukai on Feb. 9, days ahead of the country’s Union Day celebrations.

The Burmese government had previously hoped to sign a highly vaunted nationwide cease-fire with the country’s myriad rebel forces on the national holiday.

President Thein Sein spent much of the last week visiting wounded soldiers, where he promised to not lose “an inch” of the country’s territory to Kokang “renegades.”

Analysts say the timing and the high-level of coordination among major rebel militias from across northern Burma who participated in the offensive suggests that the peace process has hit the rocks.

“The idea was to make a very loud point that there are a significant number of powerful factions in the north who are not interested in mealymouthed promises,” Anthony Davis, an analyst with IHS Jane’s, tells TIME.

Despite years of negotiations, trust between the ethnic insurgents in the country’s far north and the government has been in steady decline since an artillery assault by the Burmese army on a Kachin Independence Army training camp in November killed 23 cadets.

The resurgence of the MDNAA also raises fresh questions over how a militia that had been routed five years ago was able to raise the material and tactical support within earshot of the Chinese border to launch a major offensive.

Analysts have long suspected Beijing of providing sophisticated weaponry to ethnic Chinese insurgents along its border as a way of leveraging power against Burma as it seeks to foster new relations with the West.

An editorial published in a Chinese state-linked media outlet on Tuesday sought to shoot down any notions that Beijing has been propping up Burma’s ethnic Chinese forces in the same way that Russia has been helping separatist rebels in southeast Ukraine.

“There are no grounds for comparing Kokang to Crimea. Those who are stuck in such comparisons are either spouting nonsense, or have ulterior motives,” read an editorial printed in the Global Times on Tuesday. “Peace and stability in the border regions are in China’s utmost interest.”

TIME Burma

The Last Days of the Yangon River Ferry

A ferry's story reflects Burma's tumultuous journey

On a warm Friday in mid-November, the old Yangon Ferry shuddered across the riverbank in Burma for the last time.

The next morning, commuters boarded three shining new boats donated by the government of Japan. The moan of the old engines was gone, but the orange sunlight, the weary faces, and the frenzied commerce remained the same.

Since 2011, Burma’s government has worked to shed its international pariah status. Memories are short, and foreign money is washing over one of the world’s last untapped markets.

From the ferry pier, you can see the changes coming to Burma. It’s not just new boats. Tourists follow investment dollars, and children sell faded postcards in broken snatches of at least three European languages. A rickshaw driver holds a long, semi-coherent conversation in English. “I didn’t go to school,” he says. “I learned from you.” His finger points my way, but he refers to my fanny-pack saddled forbearers. The ferry has been updated, too—it still costs ten cents for locals, but four bucks a ride for tourists.

In the video above, follow the rhythm and warmth of the historic ferry crossing in its final days.

TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Jan. 7, 2015

A compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Adam Dean‘s work on opium poppy farming in the valleys of eastern Burma. The country, which used to be the world’s largest supplier of heroin until the 1980s, is experiencing a resurgence in cultivation. Conflict, corruption and poverty have driven an increasing number of farmers back to growing the plants’ opium sap, the key ingredient of the drug. The United Nations is trying to persuade them to switch their focus to other crops such as coffee, but it faces a difficult task: opium is far more profitable and an easier way for smalltime farmers to pad their incomes. Dean’s photographs offer a poignant glimpse to the boom that gives so many of Burma’s poor a hard fought livelihood, one that they know isn’t good for society but one that they aren’t eager to give up.

Adam Dean: Poppies Bloom Again in Myanmar (The New York Times)

Timothy Fadek: Rebuilding Haiti (Bloomberg Businessweek) These pictures take a different look at Haiti by showing how five years after the massive earthquake, businesses are working to rebuild the country

Muhammed Muheisen: Young Survivors of the Peshawar School Attack (TIME LightBox) Portraits and words of the students who survived

Glenna Gordon (BBC Radio 4 World at One) Gordon talks about photographing the clothes of missing Nigerian school girls.

Jane Bown obituary (The Guardian) The English photographer known for her portraits, died in December 2014 aged 89

TIME Burma

A New Zealander Is Facing 4 Years in a Burmese Prison for ‘Insulting Buddhism’

New Zealander bar manager on trial for insulting Buddhism
Lynn Bo Bo—EPA New Zealand citizen Philip Blackwood, center, is escorted by Burmese policemen after his hearing at a court in Rangoon on Dec. 18, 2014

His trial is the latest example of growing religious intolerance in the country

A bar manager from New Zealand and two Burmese nationals are spending Christmas Day in Burma’s notorious Insein prison and will go on trial Friday, charged with insulting the Buddhist religion.

Phil Blackwood, 32, is the general manager of V Gastro, a bar and restaurant in the country’s commercial capital Rangoon. He, along with the bar’s owner Tun Thurein and manager Htut Ko Ko Lwin, were arrested on Dec. 10 after posting a promotional advert on the establishment’s Facebook page showing the Buddha wearing headphones.

Though the post was removed and an apology issued, it quickly drew scorn from local Buddhists who found the image offensive.

The trio were refused bail and have been in custody since their arrest. Blackwood has had trouble finding legal representation and is being kept in a separate cell to his colleagues. He is also not allowed to see visitors.

If found guilty, the three face up to four years in prison.

David Mathieson, senior Burma researcher at Human Rights Watch, criticizes the severity of the charges.

“It shows a massive injustice — the lack of access to lawyers and consular support,” he tells TIME. “Even by their own legal procedures, [the legal system] has completely failed to uphold the rule of law.”

These charges are the latest example of rising religious chauvinism in the country. A group of hard-line Buddhist monks, called the Association of Protection of Race and Religion, or Ma Ba Tha in Burmese, is pushing hard-line Buddhism into politics and espousing an anti-Muslim rhetoric.

“There is evidence indicating that Ma Ba Tha and 969 [another ultra-nationalist Buddhist group] have strong alliances with political parties including members of the ruling party. There is a visible pattern of bias in government departments acting in favor of these groups,” says Htuu Lou Rae from interfaith group Coexist.

Earlier this month, Ma Ba Tha submitted a series of bills to the country’s legislature. The so-called Laws on Protection of Race and Religion include tough regulations on religious conversion and interfaith marriage. A marriage bill would require Buddhist women to seek permission from local authorities before marrying a man of another faith.

Rights groups, including advocates for women and ethnic minorities, have fiercely criticized the bills, saying they restrict religious freedom. “This so-called marriage law, or ‘protection law for women,’ is not only threatening women’s rights to make a decision for [themselves] but is also threatening women’s security and safety,” a spokesperson from the Burmese Women’s League tells TIME.

But despite the recent surge of anti-Muslim discourse in the country, Ma Ba Tha’s desire to protect the dominant Buddhist religion has deep historical roots dating back to the last of the Burmese kings in the early 20th century, when anticolonial sentiments were high.

“Once the British were about to depose King Thibaw, he issued a call to arms, telling people to rise up and defend not just the country, but also the Sasana [the Buddhist religion],” says Matthew Walton, a Burma scholar from the University of Oxford.

Insecurities over the opening up of the country after five decades of military rule could be driving the resurgence in nationalism today. “In times of uncertainty, the ‘protection’ of Buddhism can get reconfigured against an external threat,” says Walton.

For many hard-line Buddhists, the “external threat” in Burma right now is the perception that the Muslim population will take over the country.

And these extreme ideas do have an audience, “because of underdevelopment, a lack of critical humanistic education, wrong information from the media and from unreliable history books,” says Phyo Win Latt, a Ph.D. student at the National University of Singapore who focuses on Buddhist nationalism in colonial Burma.

Meanwhile, moderate members of the clergy do not feel that V Gastro’s promotional material warrants imprisonment. Ottama Thara, a monk from Mandalay who teaches Buddhist texts, says Buddha practiced forgiveness and therefore so should they.

“Whoever insults one particular religion, if they apologize for their actions, I think we should forgive them,” he says.

Instead of bowing down to intimidation from extremist groups, some feel there needs to be a clearheaded public debate about extreme nationalist ideas and religion’s role in politics.

“The bigger picture is that the government is completely unwilling to stand up to rising nationalism,” Mathieson says. “It demonstrates a collective failure of political leadership on the entire country that they are not calling this out.”

Those who do speak out are met with hostility and jail time. Htin Lin Oo, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party, the National League for Democracy, was sacked from his position and faces up to four years in prison after being charged with conducting “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings,” the Irrawaddy reports. He had delivered a speech criticizing how Buddhism was being used as a tool for discrimination.

Htin Lin Oo’s dismissal from his own party shows that even a moderate opposition is reluctant to address the tide of growing nationalism in the country.

If Burma’s leaders continue with their unwillingness to deal with the rise of Buddhist extremism from nationalist groups, the country could be set on a dangerous course toward more intolerance and it could jeopardize the future of the reform process.

“It’s only going to get more heated,” says Mathieson.

TIME Burma

Study: Burgeoning Trade in Wild-Cat Products From Burma to China

Myanmar Last Frontier
Wildlife Conservation Society Myanmar Program/AP In this undated photo taken by a trap camera and released by the Wildlife Conservation Society Myanmar Program, a tiger walks in the Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Burma

Clouded leopards were the most common cats surveyed for sale

Tigers and other wild cats from Burma like clouded leopards are increasingly being sold to China, according to a new study.

Researchers focused on the Burmese town of Mong La, which lies on the Chinese border, where they noticed a threefold rise in shops selling parts from endangered species over the past eight years. The findings were published in the Biological Conservation journal.

The rise “could be due to greater enforcement action in Thailand,” says report author Chris Shepherd of Traffic, an international wildlife-trade-monitoring network, reports the BBC. “But because that is yet to happen on the part of China, Mong La has seen the rise in wildlife trade.”

Burma, officially known as Myanmar, has banned the trade of tiger and leopard parts, although much of its restive border regions, including Mong La, remain the dominion of rebel groups, who profit off such illegal activities.

International outrage has done little to stymie the poaching of tigers, and there are now only around 3,000 left across the globe. The illicit trade for endangered-species parts is fueled by demand for traditional Chinese medicine, which is itself buoyed by China’s new prosperous middle class.

TIME Thailand

The Two Men Charged With the Thai Backpacker Murders Face a Dubious Trial

Parents of Myanmar workers suspected of killing British tourist in Thailand, show their passports as at a monastery outside Yangon
Soe Zeya Tun—Reuters Parents of Burmese workers suspected of killing British tourists in Thailand show their passports as at a monastery outside Rangoon on Oct. 16, 2014

Observers have been left aghast at a litany of procedural irregularities

The two Burmese migrant workers accused of killing a pair of British backpackers on an idyllic Thai beach appeared in court to be formality indicted Thursday. But there are growing fears that any trial will be a sham.

The two men say they were tortured into a confession and various domestic and international human rights groups have raised concerns about their interrogation.

There are serious doubts about the evidence linking Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 21, with the brutal slaying of David Miller, 24, and rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, on the Thai Gulf island of Koh Tao.

The victims’ bodies were discovered bludgeoned to death near rocks on Sairee Beach on Sept. 15. A fumbling investigation initially assumed Burmese migrants were to blame, then local hoodlums, then a jilted suitor of Witheridge. Eventually, police picked up Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, who were both working on the island illegally at the time.

“[The police] can see a wider investigation is needed but they are not interested,” Nakhon Chompoochart, the lead lawyer on the defense team, tells TIME. “They are only focused on the accused.”

Thai Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy commissioner Pol Maj Gen Suwat Jaengyodsuk denied the suspects had been coerced when speaking to the Thai National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday. He had been summoned by the commission on four previous occasions but failed to appear.

Allegations of torture aside, observers have been appalled by procedural irregularities. Tourists were allowed to wander through the crime scene, the suspects were forced into a reconstruction that may prejudice their chances of a fair hearing, and there was a lack of a forensic experts to collect evidence. Foreign nationals were also immediately blamed for the crime because, a police spokesman claimed, “Thais wouldn’t do this.”

“The prosecution has said that this is an important case and must be dealt with quickly,” says Andy Hall, a Thailand-based migrant labor expert aiding the defense. “There’s a real fear that justice will not be served.”

Under Thai law, the 900-page police report, upon which the prosecutors will base their case, will not be disclosed to the defense team until the trial commences. Instead, the defense lawyers will be given a summary containing a list of names and addresses of witnesses as well as a cursory inventory of evidence.

According to Felicity Gerry QC, a prominent British defense lawyer specializing in high-profile sexual-assault cases, “Not to have any access until the day of trial can’t possibly be fair.”

In many other jurisdictions, including the U.S. and U.K., as soon as charges are brought the defense has access to all evidence, including witness statements, physical exhibits and expert testimony. This allows lawyers to take instructions from their clients and call their own experts to refute any testimony relied upon by the prosecution.

“Sometimes the analysis takes time,” says Gerry, citing the checking of telephone records or the disputing of forensic conclusions. “My concern would be it’s all far too rushed and unfair to the defense.”

The arrival of British police observers has not helped. A team from the U.K., including a senior homicide detective and crime scene analyst, was dispatched to Thailand early last month in order to assist in the investigation. However, they spent only two hours on Koh Tao after arriving by helicopter and did not meet with either the accused or their legal team. Their findings have still not been released.

“You’d expect the Thai police to welcome the additional assistance,” says Gerry. “My suspicion is that [the British police have] been limited regarding what they’ve been allowed to do.”

Meanwhile, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, who face a death sentence if convicted, stay cut off from their families. “They are in good spirits but really miss their parents,” says Hall, who has met with the suspects three times each week since they were arrested.

Two British families have already been devastated by the Koh Tao killings. The Thai authorities must now ensure two Burmese families don’t needlessly experience similar anguish.

TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Dec. 3, 2014

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Adam Dean‘s work on the booming jade industry in Myanmar, which is fueled by rampant corruption and drug use among miners. The source of the jade is Kachin State, and a large majority of workers use heroin on a regular basis. It’s illegal but tolerated, with many experts arguing it’s pushed the drug into the general population. Dean’s powerful pictures show the devastating effect that the surge of heroin use has had on the workers and serves as another tale of a poor country not benefiting from its natural riches in the way that it should. (Note: Watch the very strong 11-minute video by Jonah M. Kessel that is paired with Dean’s pictures.)

Adam Dean: Addiction and Suffering in Myanmar’s Jade Industry (The New York Times)

Alex Masi: Bhopal: Tragedy Lives On (Al Jazeera America) Compelling photographs document the legacy of this industrial disaster.

Siegried Modola: Female Circumcision Ceremony in Kenya (The Daily Beast) These photographs draw attention to the controversial practice of female genital mutilation.

Kim Haughton: In Plain Sight (TIME LightBox) Haunting pictures of the sites of child abuse.

True or false in photography (Vogue Italy) Alessia Glaviano muses on truth and photography in the digital age.

reFramed: In conversation with Matt Black (The Los Angeles Times Framework) Barbara Davidson talks to Matt Black about his work documenting California’s Central Valley.

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

TIME Burma

Inside the Kachin War Against Burma

High school and university students receive drill instructions in Laiza, which lies in a Kachin Independence Army–controlled part of Kachin state, in Burma, on Nov. 10, 2014.
Adam Dean—Panos for TIME High school and university students receive drill instructions in Laiza, which lies in a Kachin Independence Army–controlled part of Kachin state, in Burma, on Nov. 10, 2014.

Burma's rulers have promised cease-fires with various ethnic groups that have been battling the military, in some cases for decades. But in the hills of Kachin, peace is further away than ever

Morning mist hangs low on the jungle as Kachin cadets stand to sleepy attention on this November morning, clutching slabs of wood whittled into the contours of rifles. Not far away in the mountains of northern Burma, soldiers in the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) face off against Burmese positions, a state of intermittent war that has prevailed since a 17-year cease-fire between the ethnic militia and the Burmese army collapsed in 2011.

The 162 cadets training at the military academy in rebel-held Laiza are hardly a fighting force — they are high school and college kids undergoing their first guerrilla training. Still, the KIA, which controls chunks of land near the Burmese border with China, needs all the recruits it can get.

“The Burmese want to steal all our land, but they will never succeed,” says Hkawng Lum, a student from Myitkyina, the Kachin state capital that is under Burmese army control. The 19-year-old has been training at the military academy for one month and will eventually return behind enemy lines to serve in the KIA reserve. “Every Kachin,” he says, “will fight to the death.”

On Nov. 19, a heavy artillery attack by the Burmese army overwhelmed another KIA training camp in Laiza, killing 23 officers in training — a body blow to ethnic rebels who have been forced to manufacture their own knockoff rifles and land mines. The assault, which killed cadets from several ethnic groups, came as the KIA and the Burmese army had been holding fitful peace talks, even as skirmishes had proliferated across the state.

“We knew that the Burmese army was full of tricks,” says a Kachin Independence Organization information officer. “The peace process is dead.”

The United Nationalities Federal Council, which represents a diversity of Burma’s many ethnic groups, said that the shelling had “caused a tremendous obstacle in building trust.” The Nov. 19 attack came just days after Burma had hosted an international summit attended by national leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama. On his second visit to the country in two years, Obama warned that Burma’s much lauded reforms were by “no means complete or irreversible.”

Since Burma’s military junta began a transition to a quasi-civilian government three years ago, its rulers have promised an imminent national cease-fire with various ethnic armed groups that have been battling the Burmese military practically since the nation gained independence from the British in 1948. National reconciliation is seen as key in helping the nation’s economy develop but the ethnic militias are wary of giving up autonomy to the centralized Burmese state. Some truces have been struck, although not with the 10,000-strong KIA. Even in areas technically under armistice, continuing clashes undercut talk of peace. It escapes no one’s notice that some of the worst fighting is occurring in regions that boast some of Burma’s most-plentiful natural resources.

“When the Burmese army talks about a cease-fire, they mean stopping shooting for a short while,” says Manam Tu Shan, a 67-year-old Kachin church deacon in Laiza. “But what we mean by a cease-fire is living peacefully and being able to practice our traditions without the Burmese interfering.”

Although Burma is dominated by the Bamar, or Burman, ethnic group, some 40% of the country’s population is composed of dozens of ethnic minorities — the Kachin, the Karen, the Shan, the Wa, the Chin, the Mon and the Rakhine, among many others. When the country, now known officially as Myanmar, gained independence, it did so as a federal union in which several ethnic groups were given the option to secede if they were unhappy with their new state.

But an army coup in 1962 ushered in nearly half a century of brutal military rule. Most generals were Bamar chauvinists who won their stripes by battling various ethnic militias in the eastern and northern fringes of the country. Some of that strife, which displaced millions of ethnic villagers and subjected them to institutionalized rape and forced labor by Burmese soldiers, has been described as the longest-running civil war on earth. The current Burmese government has also been criticized for its treatment of more than a million Muslim Rohingya, a largely stateless group that lives in western Burma. Hundreds of Rohingya have been killed in pogroms over the past couple years and 140,000 have been sequestered in ghetto-like camps.

Bleakness and Bounty
The KIA headquarters in Laiza feels like a Wild West town, but with none of the romance of that description. Until the turn of this century, Laiza was little more than a dusty border outpost with China. But as the Burmese army pressed in, the KIA stronghold took on outsize importance. Laiza is now a collection of cement-block buildings with stores selling Chinese plastic goods, pirated DVDs and the latest in army-camouflage fashion. Heroin and methamphetamines are a scourge, as is human trafficking across the border with China.

If the town is bleak, the hills surrounding Laiza, and spreading across Kachin, are some of the most bountiful on earth. There is jade, gold, timber and hydropower. Banana plantations dot the landscape, as does the odd golf course, a relic of colonial sportsmanship enjoyed by the KIA top brass. There are also more than 100,000 Kachin who have fled the fighting to live in remote refugee camps. To survive, some villagers pan for gold for Chinese-owned companies, their pay meager even by the standards of one of Asia’s poorest nations.

While the Bamar are Buddhist, the Kachin, like several major ethnic groups in Burma, practice Christianity. There are no pagodas in Laiza, just as there are no churches in Naypyidaw, the bunkered Burmese capital that the generals unveiled in 2005. Although the Kachin are proud of their martial prowess — Kachin soldiers fought alongside the Allies in northern Burma during World War II and were known to string the teeth of their enemies around their necks — they have been excluded from the Burmese Defense Services Academy (DSA), which trains the nation’s next generation of military elite. (Before the army takeover in 1962, one headmaster of the DSA was Kachin.) These days, the highest-ranking Kachin in the Burmese army is a mere captain.

Laiza itself is deeply militarized, with some men carrying geriatric rifles that look like they did their best work during World War II. Most of the bullets are Chinese imports, and they are precious. At the Laiza military academy, Major Kyaw Htwi admits that live-ammunition training is too expensive for common practice. Some of the machine guns on hand are held together with duct tape. But the major has taught Kachin cadets for 21 years and is confident of his charges’ ability to adapt to jungle warfare.

“The Burmese want the ethnics to become extinct,” he says, as a soldier pulls a Kachin flag up a flagpole and salutes the dusty pennant. “But we will never give up our struggle.”

Days later came the Burmese army attack. There is no peace now in the hills of Kachin.

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