Friday, December 19, 2008

Understanding the Kachin Conflict

“Myanmar politics are the most complicated in the world,” said Daw Kong, director of the Kachin research and information network, as we settled down for tea and conversation on a hilltop near the Chinese border.

After three weeks in the small pocket of northern Myanmar held by the Kachin Independence Organization, I still struggled to make sense of the tangled history and delicate balance of power that defines the political landscape of Kachin state.

In the interest of clarity, here are 11 key points that will help a general audience make sense of the drama unfolding in the Himalayan foothills of northern Myanmar...

Read the rest of this entry at the Pulitzer Center's Untold Stories blog.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kachin Land

DAMN, it's been hard to keep my mouth shut.

As you probably know by now, I love to babble about my travels - where I've been, where I'm going, the dirty details of my latest existential crisis.

But my trip to the far north of Myanmar had to be kept secret. I didn't have a Myanmar visa, wore a disguise in public places and snuck back into China by wading across a cold river in the middle of the night. Not exactly the sort of activity it's smart to advertise in advance.

But now the trip is done. I've decided to forget about writing under a pen-name and just let the chips fall where they may...

Ryan Libre and I just spent one month in territory held by the Kachin Independence Army on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. At the moment we're holed up in Hong Kong, eating instant ramen in a tiny room and sorting through piles of notes, thousands of photos and hours of video footage.

We'll be blogging about the trip at the Pulitzer Center's Untold Stories website, so please go there to check out the first post in the series. I'll add an excerpt here with a link to the full article.

Apart from a brief introduction to the Chief of Staff of the Kachin Independence Army, we spent our first day in Myanmar locked inside a hotel room. Our Kachin hosts were apologetic but firm. At the moment, it was too risky to go outside...

Here's the link to the complete post over at Untold Stories - I'd love to see your comments there!

Myanmar: Open Military Camps, Closed Teashops

Thanks for reading everyone.

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