Over the last few months, a number of democratic reforms have swept through Burma. These new freedoms, however, are not shared by everyone. One group that continues to live with repression is the Kachin, an ethnic minority based near the border with China. FRANCE 24’s Cyril Payen travelled to Burma to meet them.
The war in Burma’s Kachin region is a war that has largely gone unseen by the rest of the world. Located within Asia’s Golden Triangle, the region is completely cut off to foreigners. To get there, one has to traverse southern China before being smuggled across the border with the help of Kachin’s rebel groups.
Once there, one discovers Laiza, a town that served as a hub for the lucrative jade trade up until a year ago. Today, it’s a capital under siege, where the entire population is faced with the realities of war. The Kachin have one of the most powerful armed forces out of all of Burma’s ethnic groups.
Despite the fact Burma’s government has taken strides toward democratic reform, the country’s army launched a major offensive against the Kachin, effectively ending a 17 year-old ceasefire. Hundreds of people have been killed in the conflict and hundreds of thousands others displaced, with no access to humanitarian aide from the outside world.