Since Burma, now officially known as Myanmar, gained independence from Britain in 1948, minorities have been subject to sustained discrimination and oppression. In 1962 the country was subject to a brutal form of military rule. Hopes were raised for a transition from military rule when Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won the general elections in 2015. However the oppression of minorities, including massive displacements, has continued.
Alarmingly, however, Suu Kyi has not condemned the military for its brutal clearance campaign that forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims on the western border to flee to refugee camps in Bangladesh. Nor has she shown much interest in the welfare of displaced populations affected by fighting on Myanmar’s eastern border near China, which has increased in recent years. Fighting has also recently returned to Karen State, threatening a fragile ceasefire between the Karen and the military.
This photo essay offers a glimpse into the lives of those who have been uprooted, scattered and displaced within Myanmar and outside its borders.
Brennan O’Connor is a photographer based in Southeast Asia. He is currently working on a photo book on Myanmar’s ethnic groups.