THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF ABUSE - Paolo Marchetti Photographer

Burmese Refugees in China

Myanmar, a former British colony became independent in 1948 and in ’89 became known as Myanmar. This year, the Burmese conflict takes exactly 50 years since the country is devastated by ethnic and political conflicts, in which the military dictatorship represses freedoms of the population subject to severe repression.
Interested parties in conflict are the Burmese government army, some militias including that of the ethnic Karen and Kokang and some rebel armies like, Shan and Wa.
In addition to the ethnic conflicts of the independence movements of the Karen and Shan ethnic minority, the country is involved in the struggle for control of territory on the borders with Thailand and China, and drug control.
Feeding the civil war against ethnic minorities, who slays in Myanmar, there are the interests of large multinational Indian, Chinese and Thai.
For example, China has a huge contract for the dam and its hydroelectric plant on the Irrawaddy (river vital to the country, which runs through Burma to cross the border with China), which triggered the reaction of ethnic Kachin people: from here the large-scale military repression, including abuse and violence against civilians, with typical methods of “ethnic cleansing”.

China continues to sign bilateral agreements in the framework of a vast plan of infrastructure entrusted to Chinese companies, as the port of Kyauk Phyu in Rakhine State and its supply of highways, pipelines and oil pipelines linking the state of Arkan and the province China’s Yunnan.
Beijing is now the largest trading partner (as well as the main supplier of arms) of the Burmese regime, with a turnover exceeding 1.5 billion dollars a year.

On the internal war in Myanmar, then, the Asian giants like China and India close both eyes, while the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) lies motionless and silent in the name of the principle of “noninterference in internal affairs” .
The governments of neighboring countries point to the regional economic development by financing large scale projects, especially for energy supply, such as dams, pipelines, refineries, etc.. The “energy market in Southeast Asia, promoted within ASEAN, relies heavily on Burmese territory, rich resources: and many such projects affect the territories of ethnic minorities. The callousness of the Burmese government to protect these communities, it triggers the onset of the insurgency, resulting in the subsequent military crackdown.

Today the settlements key to the work of extension of infrastructure and energy investments are precisely the lands of certain ethnic minorities, their villages were swept away by the great works promoted by the Burmese government and promoted by neighboring economic giants.
To a spike in clashes between the Tatmadaw (Burmese army) and the Kachin Independence Army, tens of thousands of people have fled their land to seek refuge in camps in the northern state of Kachin state and in neighboring Yunnan, under strict control by the Chinese army.

According to a report of “Human Rights Watch” (a non-governmental organization that deals with the defense of human rights.), The Burmese armed forces have committed serious abuses against ethnic Kachin. The Burmese army is responsible for thousands of killings and attacks against civilians, using forced labor and looting their villages.
According to UN estimates, and the “Human Rights Watch,” more than 75,000 people were displaced by the conflict, including more than 20,000 in mainland China. This phenomenon among other things, dramatically increases the traffic of people. In this regard, in the Chinese territory is estimated thousands of Burmese children under 18 are forced into prostitution.
The fields of these refugees, are essentially a massive target of the hunt for traffickers of people.

The young refugee women here, often encouraged by their parents to seek work in China and because of the lack of aid by the Chinese government, are used at best as laborers on plantations, or more likely in sex trafficking.

There are around 78 existing refugees camp, distributed between the Burmese and the Chinese territory, but the possibility to know the exact number is very difficult. The camps are often demobilized and reorganized elsewhere in relation to the advancement of the conflict.
Two thirds of people in camps are women and children whose husbands and fathers are mostly engaged in the ongoing clashes.
This is the Laying’s camp in the state of Yunnan, the most southern of China, bordering the Kachin state and it is managed by a group called “Wunpawng Ninghtoi”, that in Kachin’s dialect itt means “light of all the Kachin.”
This camp was built on a former landfill in the middle of sugarcane fields on the outskirts of a chinese village named Laying. The people who inhabit this camp are about 919 of which 50 are under 2 years. There Are 276 children under 12 and 184 people over 50 years. The rest of middle age.
Most of them belong to the “Lisu” minority.
The Lisu minority has Tibeto-Burmese origin and lives in the mountain regions of Myanmar. It’s part of the Kachin ethnic minorities with a population of 350.000 and practice an animist religion.
The Lisu are just one of many minorities forced by conflict to flee their lands, to leave everything, even the hope that it can only review their home.

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