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Kerim’s Triptych for Sunday, February 11th, 2024

Kerim’s Triptych for Sunday, February 11th, 2024

Welcome to Kerim's Triptych, a free newsletter that delivers 3 items to your email inbox, 3 times a month. If you didn't intend to subscribe, or you don't want to receive these anymore, there is an unsubscribe link at the bottom.

This week I’ve prepared a special themed issue of Triptych, focused on Myanmar (Burma). I don’t usually have enough quality content to do an entire issue on one topic, but I hope to do more of these whenever I can.

Item 1: Myanmar, 3 Years On

Yangon bustles as the regime attempts to make city life feel relatively "normal," while conflict between resistance and army forces has engulfed many other areas of Myanmar. (Source photos by Ken Kobayashi and Mauk Kham Wah)

With so many ongoing conflicts around the world we tend to forget about older ones and move on to whatever happens to be dominating the news cycle. The three year anniversary of the coup in Myanmar offers an opportunity to bring that story back into the spotlight — at least for a little while.

This article does a good job of describing the current stalemate in Myanmar.

The relative prosperity of Yangon stands in sharp contrast to the escalating conflict elsewhere, such as along the border with China's Yunnan province, where rebel forces have mounted successful offensives. But a darker mood can be detected in the outer districts of Yangon.

"Don't be misled," said one resident. "It looks and feels really normal by day, but people are being detained every night in my district -- simply picked up by police as they walk along the road. Their phones are searched, and if they even have a VPN (virtual private network) on their phone, that's a crime. If they have nothing incriminating, they are still detained, and families have to pay money for their release."

Item 2: How to Survive a Coup

The role of Chinese gangs in Myanmar is particularly troubling, having created entire underground economies of gambling, prostitution, and phone scam operations. (Not unlike Cambodia.) As this article shows, political instability has forced many young women into these industries. Hearing their stories helps us understand the human cost of the conflict.

We spoke with four young women from Myanmar’s Kachin and northern Shan States, which share a border with China and contain a disproportionate share of the country’s resource wealth and illicit economies, about how the coup has impacted their lives and the particular vulnerabilities experienced by young women.

Item 3: Copy Thachin

“Copy thachin” refers to cover songs by Myanmar bands, “mostly with Burmese-language lyrics and varying levels of fidelity to their source material.” This online multimedia exhibition explores the history of the phenomenon, and shows “how it shaped decades of artistic expression in Myanmar.”


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