It was a long month. As Htay Mo trekked through rivers and across mountains thick with jungle, sleeping rough and relying on handouts, the word of a haven kept her going. The 26-year-old – who navigated landmines, snakes and soldiers as she carried her disabled son to safety – was forced out of her village […]

In the grand lobby of a Yangon hotel, a senior Myanmar tourism official told me she was meeting government officials to “rebrand” the country to focus international attention on pristine beaches instead of conflict and military atrocities. It was March 2018, and Myanmar was governed by an elected civilian administration. But instead of standing up […]

On Monday night at 8pm, the familiar, defiant sound of clashing pots and pans returned to the streets of Yangon. In the aftermath of last year’s coup, the same din was heard nightly as people demanded the return of democracy – until the military launched brutal crackdowns against any such acts of dissent. Anyone suspected […]

CHIANG MAI PROVINCE, Thailand — In a different world, Wat Fah Wiang Inn would symbolize the power of faith to transcend the borders between two largely Buddhist nations. Trust and tolerance, not guns, would hallmark this monastery straddling the Myanmar and Thailand border in the hazy Shan Hills, which stretch from Yunnan in China through […]

To be with children, to care for elderly relatives, to find work: civilians tell why they are leaving safe countries for a war zone As the war crept closer to Odesa, Ann heeded the pleas of her friends abroad and fled to Holland. A month later, as she tried to calm her son over the […]

Journalism has been outlawed in all but name since the coup, with reporters and editors fleeing the country or leading double lives to survive As a cyclone rolled over the Bay of Bengal on 24 May, American journalist Danny Fenster, 37, contemplated the brooding skies near a terminal window at Yangon international airport. For a […]

Freed protesters and a journalist detained by the junta describe beatings and squalid conditions Released from detention in Myanmar, protesters and journalists have described beatings, squalid conditions and cruelty under the military dictatorship that is opposed by most of the population. Hnin, 23, was arrested along with 400 other young people in a haze of stun […]

From soldiers randomly shooting passersby in the street to imminent economic collapse, anxieties have been plentiful in Myanmar since its military seized power on 1 February. But unease was surging ahead of Armed Forces Day on Saturday when the military was expected to meet protesters with a brutal crackdown. These expectations were more than realised. A one-year-old […]

Two journalists reflect on the danger, fear and uncertainty that now characterise life in the country – and the risks people are taking to access information ‘It is strange to write about joy amid the daily killings’ It started with people nervously waiting outside a KFC for the first brave activists to shout “let the […]

On the barricades and in border hideouts there is a growing mood to take the fight to the military after the coup that has left more than 200 dead. As an adolescent, Aung, 27, wanted to enlist in the Myanmar military until his family spelt out the horrors of the institution. Now, he has seen them firsthand. […]

Witnesses have described the moment Myanmar’s security forces opened fire on protesters, killing two people, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets again on Sunday in defiance of the military. A young man and a teenage boy are believed to have been killed in Mandalay on Saturday when police, supported by frontline […]

Since the coup, people in Yangon have been patrolling the streets to protect neighbours from overnight military raids and criminals by Lorcan Lovett Sitting next to a makeshift barricade of bamboo and recycled metal, Aung Than, 30, a tour operator, says he is ready to die for his street. “A life on this street is worth […]

In previous years on Union Day – the Myanmar public holiday marking the agreement between ethnic leaders on 12 February 1947 to forge a unified country – Khin* had worn her traditional htamein, a snug maxiskirt. But since it would prevent her from running away if the police opened fire, this year she opted for loose trousers, large […]

The Myanmar military took power last week on the promise of “restoring eternal peace” to a country riven by seven decades of ethnic conflict. Since the takeover it has made remarkable progress in uniting the deeply divided country against a common enemy: itself. In Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, strangers greet each other with the three-finger salute – a symbol […]

In Myanmar, if you want to drive evil from your home, you bang pots and pans. Yangon’s streets were filled with the din of clashing metal in 2007, when monks called for an end to military rule, and before that, in 1988 when the former president Sein Lwin, or the “butcher of Rangoon”, ordered troops to shoot […]

When Hla, 19, tried to go back to work seven months ago after having a baby, there were no jobs. Hundreds of garment factories in Myanmar had closed after western fashion brands cancelled orders due to the pandemic, leaving thousands of women jobless. As lockdown gripped Yangon, her marriage broke down, her husband left, and her father […]

(Nikkei Asian Review, June 2020) In 1987, when Khin Khin San was 13, she began selling bowls of mont ti fish soup under the shade of a tamarind tree in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine, where the rice noodle dish is fishier and fierier than elsewhere in the country. Sometimes she would hawk mont ti with […]

(The Sunday Times, May 2020)   Burma is historically familiar with ethnic strife. But now the land of maroon-robed monks is confronting discord of a different kind, as politicians, doctors and spiritual leaders turn on each other in a ferocious row about sex. The trouble erupted over a plan to update sex education in schools, […]

Myanmar’s lockdown will hit the urban poor hard. That’s inspiring charitable donation — and labor strikes.

(Vice Asia, December 2019) When martial artist Khin Cham Myae Thu began teaching free self-defence classes four years ago, she had no idea how important the weekend gatherings would become to members of Yangon’s LGBTQ community. She had been arming her neighbours with the skills they needed to defend themselves during summer classes but when […]

(Southeast Asia Globe, July 2019) 13-year-old Ei Ei Thein knows little of school life – she’s never been. But she could not have been more proud of the borrowed uniform she wore during a recent visit to one of the many scrap-dealers scattered through the slums circling Yangon. A pile of bottles spills beside her […]

(The Diplomat, June 2019) The moment Kay Khine Tun, 22, was arrested at her nursing job in Yangon Children’s Hospital, her father readied for an exhausting battle with his former employer, the Myanmar Army. “The military has no shame at all,” said Sein Mya, a 53-year-old taxi driver, as he spooned half a dozen sugars […]

(Nikkei Asian Review, October 2018) NGWE SAUNG, Myanmar — From a beachside perch next to a group of sunburned Japanese surfers, betelnut seller Let Let Khine studies a reedy figure being swallowed by a meter-high swell. It is the first time she has seen anyone on a surfboard. The surfer, her son Myat Thura Aung, […]

(Nikkei Asian Review, July 2018) LONE TON, Myanmar — A punchy cadence echoes from a one-story school building toward verdant mountains — the familiar sound of children reciting lines to learn a language. But in this part of northern Myanmar, speaking Shan-ni, the local dialect, only a decade ago was seen as taboo, and treated […]