I woke up one morning early in June 2011 in Northern Thailand to a short message from a top Kachin Independence Organisation intelligence officer “if possible you better come, there is going to be a big war“. I booked my ticket that day and arrived 3 days later. It was a unique moment in rebel capital Laiza and in the history of the region.
Opium poppies bloom into spectacular deep shades of cream and maroon in the Kachin hills of Northern Myanmar. Rolling through the small dirt roads are ancient Chinese-made pick up trucks brimming with young men and women, machetes in hand. These are the Pat Ja San, Myanmar’s Christian Opium crusaders.
Hpare, with around 800 residents, is one of the most secluded IDP camps in the world, IDP’s in this area receive little to no aid other than a small rice ration from the KIO. These small camps began opening in 2011 after the resumption of fighting. The area is totally off limits to foreigners, even the KIA have to illegally travel across into China to access camps like Hpare.
Hkun Li's premier photoessay on life behind the front lines in Kachin State. Selected for 2015 Yangon photo festival and 2nd Suwon Photo in Korea. The photo's were taken over four years of Li's life living in Laiza and around the Kachin Independence Army controlled territories.
Sakse photographer Hkun Lat's critically claimed photo-series Fog of War won 2nd place at the 2015 Yangon Photo Festival. Fog of War tells the story of Kachin State on both sides of the fighting, all through Kachin native Hkun Lat's eyes.