Author Archives: admin

‘They want division’: on patrol with Myanmar’s civilian night watch

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 […]

‘I did what I thought was right’: a Myanmar protester voices her fears for the future

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 […]

‘We all know what we’re facing’: divided Myanmar unites against coup

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 […]

The nights of pots and pans are back, on Myanmar’s fearful streets

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 […]

‘I have to do this’: Myanmar garment workers forced into sex work by Covid

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 […]

Street vendor builds Yangon’s top seafood chain

(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 […]

No sex education please, we’re Burmese: new school textbook exposes ignorance

(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, […]

In Myanmar, Hunger Overshadows COVID-19 for Yangon’s Poorest

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

Meet the Sensei Teaching Yangon’s LGBTQ Community to Fight Back

(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 […]

Yangon puts ‘girl power’ into green spaces

(Nikkei Asian Review, August 2019) Hidden behind trees near a busy road in Yangon is a novel answer to two global hot-button issues: suffocating urbanization and sexual harassment. At one end of a newly-created park, a treehouse overlooks a wooden bridge, and at the other is a netted court where local boys play chinlone (caneball), Myanmar’s unofficial […]