Title Title
irawaddy-cartoon-940x580 Why the media doesn’t cover Myanmar’s war against the Kachin as much as the Rohingya
Summary Summary
  Members of the Kachin ethnic group report increased violence from the Myanmar military
Highlights Highlights
Content Content
  <b>Myanmar is not consumed by civil war the same way as Syria, though the Southeast nation is perhaps more defined by it. For over 50 years, the predominately Buddhist Myanmar military has waged several separate wars against the many ethnic minorities native to the country. </b>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The multi-pronged, and seemingly never ending, war gained international attention 2017 when </span><a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/11/637512-violence-drives-more-rohingyas-bangladesh-myanmar-pope-appeals-tolerance-un"><span style="font-weight: 400;">over 600,000 Rohingya</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a Muslim minority, fled to Bangladesh to escape conditions akin to</span><a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/09/564622-un-human-rights-chief-points-textbook-example-ethnic-cleansing-myanmar"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> ethnic cleansing</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, according to a top United Nations official. </span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">But the Rohingya are just an egregious example of ethnic persecution, a depressingly common and long-standing practice in the unusually diverse country formerly known as Burma. There over 100 ethnic minorities native to the Southeast Asian nation. Many have experienced similar levels of state violence as the Rohingya.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-16546688">transitioning to a quasi-democracy in 2011</a>, the Myanmar government and military is still dominated by the Burmese, a Buddhist ethnic group that represents roughly two-thirds of the country’s population.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Now, it’s the Kachin who find themselves in the unfortunate, yet familiar, position of being targeted by the Myanmar military. Over 5,000 of the Baptist-Christian minority were displaced after the military launched a campaign near the Chinese border, according to the </span><a href="https://ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23015&amp;LangID=E"><span style="font-weight: 400;">United Nations</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. Nsang Gum San, a Kachin activist living in the United States, says the recent escalation in violence shows that nothing has changed for his people since nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi assuming power, and the country transitioned to democracy. </span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">“There are all of these multinational companies in Burma” says Gum San from his Maryland home, “However if we measure reform by having Starbucks… then we are definitely wrong. Because real reform doesn't mean carrying out things that were witnessed in the 19th century. These are crimes against humanity."</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The plight of the Kachin, like other ethnic minorities of Myanmar, has not received the same level of </span><a href="https://www.google.com/search?ei=uqMsW_WQMaeO5wKLkb_wDg&amp;q=rohingya+refugee+crisis&amp;oq=rohingya+refugee+crisis&amp;gs_l=psy-ab.3..0l5j0i7i30k1j0l4.822.822.0.1037.1.1.0.0.0.0.78.78.1.1.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..0.1.78....0.b-nZnCW2SXk"><span style="font-weight: 400;">international media attention</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> as the Rohingya crisis despite <a href="https://news.sky.com/story/uncovered-worrying-evidence-of-new-genocidal-campaign-in-myanmar-11395173">similar accounts </a>of the military targeting civilians and using rape as a weapon, </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (Sky News). </span></i>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">There are no definitive reasons why journalists have reported on the Rohingya more than the Kachin. Though scale of severity likely has a lot to do with the discrepancy. There were over 120 times the number of Rohingya refugees in 2017 compared to the recent displacement of ethnic. The</span><a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2017/10/19/asia/analysis-why-rohingya-are-worlds-most-persecuted-minority/3736/"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Rohingya are also denied citizenship</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, which blocks the group from receiving an education or moving freely about the country. </span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Nsang Gum San, who is one of the leaders of the global Kachin Alliance, also attributes the lack of media attention to a lack of media access. Adjacent to communist China, the jungalous region of northern Myanmar is prime real estate for a government sponsored media blackout. </span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">“Journalists can report from Bangladesh, they can take photos and talk to refugees...you can not do reporting through the China border.” </span>
  <h2><b>Different histories of resistance</b></h2>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Rohingya recently developed an armed rebel group after decades without one. The </span><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41160679"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked police outposts</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in August 2017, killing 12 people, to fight for the Rohingya to be recognized as an ethnic group. </span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">However, if the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army is suppose to mimic how the Kachin defend themselves, it was an utter failure. The Burmese military was able to push back over 600,000 Rohingya in the span of three months. The ARSA currently controls no territory.</span>
  [caption id="attachment_74665" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<a href="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/06/12195759/800px-Kachin_Independence_Army_flag.svg_.png"><img class="size-medium wp-image-74665" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/06/12195759/800px-Kachin_Independence_Army_flag.svg_-620x349.png" alt="" width="620" height="349" /></a> Flag of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an armed group representing the Kachin against the Burmese military. Image courtesy of "odder" from Wikicommons[/caption]
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">In contrast, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is considered one of the most formidable rebel armies in the country, and has </span><a href="https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/ethnic-army-tells-villagers-to-flee-isolated-area-of-myanmars-kachin-state-before-offensives-04052018161700.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">secured territory</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and a high level of political leverage through violent resistance. </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">(Radio Free Asia).</span></i>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Both the Rohingya and <a href="http://www.dvb.no/news/kachin-parties-denounce-terrorist-labelling-ethnic-militias/73055">Kachin</a> have been branded as “terrorists” by the military for their respective armed groups <em>(Democratic Voice of Burma).</em> But the concept of Rohingya violent resistance has attracted more national animosity from the Burmese ethnic majority compared to the Kachin, even though the Kachin are better armed.</span>
  [caption id="attachment_75881" align="aligncenter" width="620"]<a href="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/06/22093730/irawaddy-cartoon-940x580.png"><img class="size-medium wp-image-75881" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/06/22093730/irawaddy-cartoon-940x580-620x383.png" alt="" width="620" height="383" /></a> Political Cartoon published in the Burmese newspaper, The Irrawaddy. "Boat People" refers to the those who said were Rohingya refugees escaping violence. Others in the line represent Shan, Kachin, Karen and other ethnic people.[/caption]
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Anti-Muslim sentiment is palpable in predominately Buddhist Myanmar. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/25/asia/myanmar-buddhist-nationalism-mabatha/index.html">Buddhist nationalists</a> who preach for a homogenous society cite Muslims as an existential threat who are trying to become the majority in Myanmar <em>(CNN).</em> Even <a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2017/11/29/asia/myanmar/avoiding-the-word-rohingya-is-a-common-diplomatic-concession/24114/">Pope Francis avoided</a> directly speaking on the Rohingya issue out of fear of the backlash when he visited the city of Yangon. </span>
  <h2><b>Four cuts: The same strategy</b></h2>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Kachin Independence Army poses one of the largest obstacles for the Burmese military campaign for national control, yet the military has no special strategy to take them down. The military employs the same strategy against the Kachin as they do with every other ethnic conflict. </span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Known as </span><a href="https://www.burmalink.org/background/burma/dynamics-of-ethnic-conflict/history-of-armed-opposition/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">“four cuts,”</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> the idea is to cut off food, funds, intelligence and recruits in areas where ethnic rebel groups operate. This almost always means targeting civilian populations, especially in rural areas, like the recent incident in Kachin State. </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">(Burma Link). </span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">This scorched earth tactic is widely credited for the Myanmar military r</span><a href="http://www.atimes.com/article/four-cuts-strategy-deepens-myanmars-war-wounds/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">eclaiming ethnic-controlled territories</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in Southern Myanmar. </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">(Asia Times). </span></i>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">While the Kachin’s militia is a long ways from defeat, the strategy is slowly producing results. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Christina Fink, professor at George Washington University, points to the military’s focus on cutting off </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">funds</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> as a particularly effective way of denigrating the KIA. </span><a href="https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/myanmar-army-wants-control-of-tanaing-mining-region-before-peace-talks-rebel-officer-01302018164150.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Radio Free Asia </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">reported in January 2018 that the military has prioritized controlling mining operations in Kachin State, specifically jade, which are an essential source of revenue for the rebel army. </span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">As the fighting continues, prospects of diplomacy are slim. The KIA already took a chance in agreeing to a </span><a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/11/29/ceasefire-capitalism/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">ceasefire in 1994</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, breaking away from alliances with other ethnic militias in order to make the deal. The Christian minority was disappointed when the military broke it in 2011. </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">(Foreign Policy). </span></i>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">“The KIA is really bitter about what happened.. so they want more significant terms negotiated in the peace process if they are going to be part it. And the [military] hasn't been willing to agree to those.”</span>
&nbsp  &nbsp;
  <h2>Further Reporting</h2>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="https://news.sky.com/story/uncovered-worrying-evidence-of-new-genocidal-campaign-in-myanmar-11395173">Sky News</a> reported on the predominately Baptist Christian minority and how they're fighting back against the Burmese military. WikiTribune community member <a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/user/steve-merican/">Steve Merican</a> suggested we continue to report on this. </span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>This WikiTribune story is dedicated to reporting on ethnic conflict in Myanmar.</strong> </span>
  <h2><span style="font-weight: 400;">Story ideas</span></h2>
  <ol>
   <li>Who are the Kachin?</li>
   <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Explain why some ethnic minorities of Myanmar have mixed feelings about media attention given to the Rohingya. </span></li>
   <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why do some pro-democracy Burmese people hold hostile views toward ethnic minorities?</span></li>
   <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Why do the Kachin have a large army and the Rohingya do not?</span></li>
  </ol>
  <h2><span style="font-weight: 400;">Previous WikiTribune stories</span></h2>
  <ol>
   <li><a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2017/11/21/myanmar/rohingya-refugees-reminded-of-military-persecution-40-years-ago/11337/">Rohingya crisis a replay of 'Operation Nagamin' from 40 years ago</a></li>
   <li><a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2017/10/19/asia/analysis-why-rohingya-are-worlds-most-persecuted-minority/3736/">Why the Rohingya are the 'most persecuted minority' on earth </a></li>
   <li><a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2018/03/13/internet-tech/un-facebook-allowed-rohingya-muslim-hate-speech-to-spread/55000/">Facebook allowed hate speech to spread in Myanmar</a></li>
   <li><a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2017/11/29/asia/myanmar/avoiding-the-word-rohingya-is-a-common-diplomatic-concession/24114/">Avoiding the word 'Rohingya' is a diplomatic concession</a></li>
   <li><a href="https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2018/01/17/myanmar/bangladesh-and-myanmar-negotiate-repatriation-of-rohingya/39611/">Rohingya repatriation postponed (2017)</a></li>
  </ol>
Categories Categories
  Myanmar, War &amp; Conflict, Myanmar
Article type Article type
  developing
Tags Tags
  Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma, ethnic cleansing, Facebook, Kachin, rohingya, Shan, Southeast Asia
Author byline Author byline
No Yes
Has hero Has hero
No No
Hero Alignment Hero Alignment
  full
Hero Image URL Hero Image URL
None None
Featured Image URL Featured Image URL
  https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/wikitribune-uploads-master/2018/06/12195503/1024px-Kachin_Independence_Army_cadets_in_Laiza_Paul_Vrieze-VOA.jpg
Sources Sources

Subscribe to our newsletter

Be the first to collaborate on our developing articles

WikiTribune Open menu Close Search Like Back Next Open menu Close menu Play video RSS Feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Follow us on Instagram Follow us on Youtube Connect with us on Linkedin Connect with us on Discord Email us