Peace Process, lost in the Jungle (B/W)

* Note : The photo essay below is an extending version of the essay published on Democratic Voice of Burma under the title ‘Escape from Namhlinpar‘. It is a part of my Burma Project, for which South Korea’s Rhee Yeung Hui Foundation has granted. It was first posted on December 13, 2013 and updated twice on May 29, 2014 and September 6, 2014 with additional pictures from the Kachin Independence Army (or KIA)’s frontline and IDPs camps at the Kachin (Northern Burma)-China border.  

** To watch a slideshow in color, please click here

All rights reserved © Lee Yu Kyung  

Last June 9, Kachin communities all over the world marked 3rd anniversary of the renewed conflict between Kachin Independence Army and the Burmese government troops. Despite several rounds of talks between the warring parties, the ground situation in Kachin state has not been improved. Thousands of soldiers from both sides have been killed for the past 3 years and more than 100,000 people have been displaced. Of them some 75,000 have taken shelters in the area controlled by the rebel group Kachin Independence Organization (or KIO). International humanitarian organizations have little access to this area due to restriction imposed by the government, while local NGOs and IDPs and Refugee Relief Committee or IRRC – the KIO’s aid wing – have been tirelessly coping with the situation.

During my journey in Kachin state starting from end of October 2013 for nearly a month, the fighting in Southern part of the State has been on and off but continued. It has been mainly prompted by government troops’ intrusion or fire at KIA post, villages and even the IDPs camps and schools. Battles have been lasting till today. In fact, it has been extended to Northern Shan State, where KIA’s 4th brigade positioned along with Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the military wing of Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF) are positioned and engaged in fighting against the government troops. And a recent report has suggested that Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA, Ko Kang) also has involved in fighting against Burmese army. Accordingly much talked of ‘nationwide ceasefire’  has hardly progressed.

Nkhong Pa IDPs camp at the Kachin-China border, which is located between Maijayang and Laiza. The both cities are controlled by Kachin Independent Organization (or KIO) (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Nkhong Pa IDPs camp at the Kachin-China border, which is located between Maijayang and Laiza. The both cities are controlled by Kachin Independent Organization (or KIO) (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Nkhong Pa IDPs camp at the Kachin-China border. Since the war broke out in Kachin state in 2011, more than 100,000 people have been displaced. Of them some 75,000 have been sheltered in the rebel territory, where international aid has hardly reached. IDPs and Refugee Relief Committee (or IRRC), the aid wing of Kachin Independent Organization and Kachin NGOs play significant roles. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Nkhong Pa IDPs camp at the Kachin-China border. Since the war broke out in Kachin state in 2011, more than 100,000 people have been displaced. Of them some 75,000 have been sheltered in the rebel territory, where international aid has hardly reached. IDPs and Refugee Relief Committee (or IRRC), the aid wing of Kachin Independent Organization and Kachin NGOs play significant roles. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

A Kachin woman in one of the IDPs camps in Laiza, the rebel’s capital near the Kachin-China border. Many of Kachin IDPs have been displaced multiple times since the war broke out in Kachin state in 2011. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

A Kachin woman in one of the IDPs camps in Laiza, the rebel’s capital near the Kachin-China border. Many of Kachin IDPs have been displaced multiple times since the war broke out in Kachin state in 2011. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Kachin IDPs in one of the IDPs camps in Laiza, the rebel’s capital near the Kachin-China border. Many of Kachin IDPs have been displaced multiple times since the war broke out in Kachin state in 2011. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Kachin IDPs in one of the IDPs camps in Laiza, the rebel’s capital near the Kachin-China border. Many of Kachin IDPs have been displaced multiple times since the war broke out in Kachin state in 2011. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Nkhong Pa IDPs camp at the Kachin-China border, which is located between Maijayang and Laiza. The both cities are controlled by Kachin Independent Organization (or KIO) (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Nkhong Pa IDPs camp at the Kachin-China border, which is located between Maijayang and Laiza. The both cities are controlled by Kachin Independent Organization (or KIO) (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

IDPs camp in Laiza at the Kachin-China border, which is located between Maijayang and Laiza. The both cities are controlled by Kachin Independent Organization (or KIO) (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

IDPs camp in Laiza at the Kachin-China border, which is located between Maijayang and Laiza. The both cities are controlled by Kachin Independent Organization (or KIO) (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

IDPs at the Kachin-China border, which is located between Maijayang and Laiza. The both cities are controlled by Kachin Independent Organization (or KIO) (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

IDPs at the Kachin-China border, which is located between Maijayang and Laiza. The both cities are controlled by Kachin Independent Organization (or KIO) (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

A victim of human trafficking around the Kachin-China border. She is HIV+ and abandoned in China before being handed over to Kachin Independence Organization. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

A victim of human trafficking around the Kachin-China border. She is HIV+ and abandoned in China before being handed over to Kachin Independence Organization. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

A Kachin woman is being trained at the weaving center in Laiza, the rebel's capital. The trainees include some victims of human trafficking, who did escape or return to the rebel's territory.

A Kachin woman is being trained at the weaving center in Laiza, the rebel’s capital. The trainees include some victims of human trafficking, who did escape or return to the rebel’s territory. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Representatives of Ethnic Armed Organizations arrived and gathered first in jungle area in Kachin State. The Conference was held late last year in Laiza at the China-Kachin border. It was organized by Kachin Independence Organization in a bid to discuss common strategy among ethnic groups regarding ‘nationwide ceasefire’ which Burmese government ambitiously has been pushing for months by then. KIO is one of the two ethnic groups which have not signed ceasefire with Burmese government as of June 2014. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Representatives of Ethnic Armed Organizations arrived and gathered first in jungle area in Kachin State. The Conference was held late last year in Laiza at the China-Kachin border. It was organized by Kachin Independence Organization in a bid to discuss common strategy among ethnic groups regarding ‘nationwide ceasefire’ which Burmese government ambitiously has been pushing for months by then. KIO is one of the two ethnic groups which have not signed ceasefire with Burmese government as of June 2014. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Ethnic Armed Organization Conference was held late last year in Laiza at the China-Kachin border. It was organized by Kachin Independence Organization in a bid to discuss common strategy among ethnic groups regarding ‘nationwide ceasefire’ which Burmese government ambitiously has been pushing for months by then. KIO is one of the two ethnic groups which have not signed ceasefire with Burmese government as of June 2014. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Ethnic Armed Organization Conference was held late last year in Laiza at the China-Kachin border. It was organized by Kachin Independence Organization in a bid to discuss common strategy among ethnic groups regarding ‘nationwide ceasefire’ which Burmese government ambitiously has been pushing for months by then. KIO is one of the two ethnic groups which have not signed ceasefire with Burmese government as of June 2014. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

KIA soldiers at the local restaurant in Laiza, the rebel's capital near the Kachin (Northern Burma)-China border. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

KIA soldiers at the local restaurant in Laiza, the rebel’s capital near the Kachin (Northern Burma)-China border. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Kachin youths in Educational and Economic Development for Youth (or EEDY) training ground. The Course involves military training with wood gun, Kachin history and English etc. After training, most of them would go back to their normal life different parts of the country. Since the war resumed, Kachin youths from all over the country have tried to reach their home land to take EEDY course. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Kachin youths in Educational and Economic Development for Youth (or EEDY) training ground. The Course involves military training with wood gun, Kachin history and English etc. After training, most of them would go back to their normal life different parts of the country. Since the war resumed, Kachin youths from all over the country have tried to reach their home land to take EEDY course. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Kachin youths in Educational and Economic Development for Youth (or EEDY) training ground. The Course involves military training with wood gun, Kachin history and English etc. After training, most of them would go back to their normal life different parts of the country. Since the war resumed, Kachin youths from all over the country have tried to reach their home land to take EEDY course. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Kachin youths in Educational and Economic Development for Youth (or EEDY) training ground. The Course involves military training with wood gun, Kachin history and English etc. After training, most of them would go back to their normal life different parts of the country. Since the war resumed, Kachin youths from all over the country have tried to reach their home land to take EEDY course. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Cadres of ABSDF Northern Branch (ABSDF-NB) in Kachin state. ABSDF has celebrated 25th anniversary in 2013. It has signed a ceasefire with the government months earlier. KIA accommodates a few other armed groups in Kachin state with whom they wage joint-operation against the government troops at times. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Cadres of ABSDF Northern Branch (ABSDF-NB) in Kachin state. ABSDF has celebrated 25th anniversary in 2013. It has signed a ceasefire with the government months earlier. KIA accommodates a few other armed groups in Kachin state with whom they wage joint-operation against the government troops at times. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

The camp of the ABSDF Northern Branch (ABSDF-NB) in Kachin state. ABSDF has celebrated 25th anniversary in 2013. It has signed a ceasefire with the government months earlier. KIA accommodates a few other armed groups in Kachin state with whom they wage joint-operation against the government troops at times. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

The camp of the ABSDF Northern Branch (ABSDF-NB) in Kachin state. ABSDF has celebrated 25th anniversary in 2013. It has signed a ceasefire with the government months earlier. KIA accommodates a few other armed groups in Kachin state with whom they wage joint-operation against the government troops at times. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

A KIA solider at the Lawayang frontline, 8 km off from Laiza – the rebel’s capital in Kachin state. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

A KIA solider at the Lawayang frontline, 8 km off from Laiza – the rebel’s capital in Kachin state. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

KIA soldiers at the Lawayang frontline, 8 km off from Lakiza, prepare lunch. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

KIA soldiers at the Lawayang frontline, 8 km off from Lakiza, prepare lunch. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

KIA soliders at the Lawayang frontline, 8 km off from Laiza – the rebel’s capital in Kachin state builds fance. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

KIA soliders at the Lawayang frontline, 8 km off from Laiza – the rebel’s capital in Kachin state builds fance. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Villagers in 'Gong-Yu-Yang' village in Kachin state. The  village had been intruded and occupied by government forces in December 2012. Villagers fled then to the jungle nearby. (© Lee Yu Kyung)

Villagers in ‘Gong-Yu-Yang’ village in Kachin state. The village had been intruded and occupied by government forces in December 2012. Villagers fled then to the jungle nearby. (© Lee Yu Kyung)

Thousands of Kachin IDPs were fleeing Nam Lim Pa, Mansi township as government troops have intruded into their village and IDPs on November 16. Subsequently heavy fighting between KIA and government troops broke out around 7am on November 17. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Thousands of Kachin IDPs were fleeing Nam Lim Pa, Mansi township as government troops have intruded into their village and IDPs camp on November 16. Subsequently heavy fighting between KIA and government troops broke out around 7am on November 17. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

On November 18, 2013 I found myself somewhere in jungle of Mansi Township, southern part of Kachin State. Mansi, along with Bhamo, has been the clashing point between Kachin Independence Army (or KIA) and the government troops in recent.  I have caught up with about hundreds out of thousands of IDPs who were then fleeing from Nam Lim Pa, where heavy fighting broke out a day earlier. The fighting was a consecutive event of government troops’ intrusion into the Nam Lim Pa village, the IDPs camp and even the boarding school on November 16.

Thousands of Kachin IDPs were fleeing Nam Lim Pa, Mansi township in various means, including motorcycle as government troops have intruded into their village and IDPs on November 16. Subsequently heavy fighting between KIA and government troops broke out around 7am on November 17. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Thousands of Kachin IDPs were fleeing Nam Lim Pa, Mansi township by various means, including motorcycle as government troops have intruded into their village and IDPs on November 16. Subsequently heavy fighting between KIA and government troops broke out around 7am on November 17. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Thousands of Kachin IDPs were fleeing Nam Lim Pa, Mansi township as government troops have intruded into their village and IDPs on November 16. Subsequently heavy fighting between KIA and government troops broke out around 7am on November 17. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Thousands of Kachin IDPs were fleeing Nam Lim Pa, Mansi township as government troops have intruded into their village and IDPs on November 16. Subsequently heavy fighting between KIA and government troops broke out around 7am on November 17. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Having trekked through the jungle for two days, the IDPs have met trucks organized by local NGOs  (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Having trekked through the jungle for two days, the IDPs have met trucks organized by local NGOs (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Some of the fleeing IDPs were old IDPs from Mung Ding Pa and elsewhere, where fighting took place late October. Many of hundreds of thousands Kachin IDPs have been displace multiple times since the war broke out in 2011.

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

I got onto one of the trucks (picture above) to travel with them for 7 hours to Gong-Yu-Yang village, the first stop for them to eat and sleep arranged by local NGOs.

Fleeing IDPs had first trekked through the jungle until they have met trucks or motorcycles organized by local NGOs. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Fleeing IDPs had first trekked through the jungle until they have met trucks or motorcycles organized by local NGOs. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa due to the latest conflict were children and women with small number of men. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Fleeing IDPs had first trekked through the jungle until they have met trucks or motorcycles organized by local NGOs. Black smog and dust have caused severe headache dizziness and suffocation. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Black smog and dust generated from rickety truck have caused severe headache dizziness and suffocation. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Black smog and dust have caused severe headache dizziness and suffocation. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Black smog and dust generated from rickety truck have caused severe headache dizziness and suffocation. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Black smog and dust have caused severe headache dizziness and suffocation. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Black smog and dust generated from rickety truck have caused severe headache dizziness and suffocation. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

An IDP child firmly holds rope which are attached to the truck for safety purpose as the truck doesn’t have enclosing walls. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

An IDP child firmly holds rope which are attached to the truck for safety purpose as the truck doesn’t have enclosing walls. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

An IDP child firmly holds rope which are attached to the truck for safety purpose as the truck doesn’t have enclosing walls. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

An IDP child firmly holds rope which are attached to the truck for safety purpose as the truck doesn’t have enclosing walls. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

The cliffy bumping road was not suitable at all for driving any transport, let alone truck. After I’ve jumped onto the truck, I was soon to realize how terrible their journey must have been. Black smog and dust generated from rickety truck were terrible enough to suffocate anyone. Eyes of many children already got bloodshot. Yet, it was a tip of the iceberg of their whole set of sufferings for decades. The latest fighting and floods of thousands IDPs have coincided with KIA’s second in command Gen. Sumlut Gun Maw’s Rangoon speech, which was followed by another ‘talk’ in Chiang Mai organized by Myanmar Peace Center (or MPC).

Thousands of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa, southern part of Kachin State, have fled to safer places including the IDPs camps near the Burma-China border. After two days of jungle trekking, they have got on trucks organized by local NGOs. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Thousands of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa, southern part of Kachin State, have fled to safer places including the IDPs camps near the Burma-China border. After two days of jungle trekking, they have got on trucks organized by local NGOs. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

The cliffy bumping road was not suitable at all for driving any transport (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

The cliffy bumping road was not suitable at all for driving any transport (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

The fleeing Kachin IDPs bumping along a cliffside dirt road in the back of a rickety truck. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

The fleeing Kachin IDPs by a rickety truck bumping along a cliffyside dirt road (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

The fleeing Kachin IDPs bumping along a cliffside dirt road in the back of a rickety truck. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

The fleeing Kachin IDPs by a rickety truck bumping along a cliffyside dirt road (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Despite several rounds of talks, through which Burmese government has been ambitiously pushing for ‘nationwide ceasefire’, the ground situation has been perceived little changed.

An IDP man and a child sitting  on the truck which is transporting them to safe place through the cliffy bumping road in Mansi Township. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

An IDP man and a child sitting on the truck which is transporting them to safe place through the cliffy bumping road in Mansi Township. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

An IDP child on a rickety truck sleeping while traveling on cliffside dirt road (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

An IDP child on a rickety truck sleeping while traveling on cliffyside dirt road (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Fleeing IDPs had first trekked through the jungle for two days until they have met trucks or motorcycles organized by local NGOs. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Fleeing IDPs had first trekked through the jungle for two days until they have met trucks or motorcycles organized by local NGOs. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Fleeing IDPs had first trekked through the jungle for two days until they have met trucks or motorcycles organized by local NGOs. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Fleeing IDPs had first trekked through the jungle for two days until they have met trucks or motorcycles organized by local NGOs. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa caused by the latest conflict in November 2013 were children and women with small number of men. Many of them have been displaced multiple times in recent weeks and months. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Absolute majority of IDPs from Nam Lim Pa caused by the latest conflict in November 2013 were children and women with small number of men. Many of them have been displaced multiple times in recent weeks and months. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

I was overwhelmed with ‘endless’ stories and responds by villagers in Mansi township and elsewhere about atrocities committed by government forces against them regardless of ceasefire, non-ceasefire or ‘peace process’. Unless these atrocities – including coward act of intrusion into the IDPs camp and a school- be constrained, the current Peace Process is to be lost in the jungle, while nationwide ceasefire would be pushed away from the sight.

Kachin IDPs from Nam Lim Pa were warmly received by villagers and NGOs, who have been preparing IDPs’ shelter and provided them with food. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Kachin IDPs from Nam Lim Pa were warmly received by villagers and NGOs, who have been preparing IDPs’ shelter and provided them with food. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

Kachin IDPs from Nam Lim Pa were warmly received by villagers and NGOs, who have been preparing IDPs’ shelter and provided them with food. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung 2013)

Kachin IDPs from Nam Lim Pa were warmly received by villagers and NGOs, who have been preparing IDPs’ shelter and provided them with food. (Photo © Lee Yu Kyung)

 

3 responses to “Peace Process, lost in the Jungle (B/W)

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