Tag Archives: Child Soldiers

On the Front Lines with the Kachin Independence Army

Burma is changing. On April 1, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi led the opposition National League for Democracy to victory in by-elections hailed as a landmark for the Southeast Asian nation. The win capped a raft of other shifts since the country’s military rulers ceded power to a quasi-civilian government last year. President U Thein Sein—a former general and one of this year’s TIME 100 honorees—has freed selected political prisoners, loosened the state’s grip on the media and signed peace agreements with ethnic rebels. But there are exceptions to the positive news from the country, notably the ongoing conflict in Kachin State.

As this series of photographs taken by Mexican photojournalist Narciso Contreras illustrates, the remote northern region is still at war. Following the collapse in June 2011 of a 17-year ceasefire between the Burmese army and ethnic Kachin rebels, violence has become an almost daily occurrence. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch claimed that the Burmese military has murdered, tortured and raped civilians. And, although they  also accuse the rebel Kachin Independence Army (KIA) of “serious abuses, including using child soldiers and antipersonnel landmines,” most of the crimes outlined in this latest report were allegedly committed by the Burmese military.

The report is based on testimony from more than 100 people living in two camps for  internally displaced people in Kachin State and across the border in China’s Yunnan province. It finds that Burmese soldiers have deliberately and indiscriminately attacked civilians, tortured children as young as 14, raped women, pillaged properties and razed homes. By the organization’s estimates, the violence has displaced some 75,000 and forced men as old as 70 into labor on the conflict’s front lines.

There have been some gestures at peace. Burmese President Sein has made repeated calls for the military to cease offensive actions in Kachin and use only defensive measures. His government has held seven rounds of talks with the KIA, most recently in the border town of Ruili. However, those talks ended without agreement last month. The government cannot control the Army, they go their own way,” said Laphai Naw Din, editor of the Thailand-based Kachin News Group.

Meanwhile, the clashes continue. Contreras’ pictures, alongside accounts by other journalists and NGO workers who have recently visited the area, show both sides preparing for a long fight. For the civilians and soldiers on the front lines, change can’t come soon enough.

Joe Jackson works at TIME’s Hong Kong bureau.

To see more recent work from Burma check out Aung San Suu Kyi’s Path to Victory by James Nachtwey

Guy Tillim: Second Nature

Tautira, Tahiti (4510702), 2010, © Guy Tillim

Exhibition on view:
Through March 17, 2012

James Harris Gallery
312 2nd Ave. S.
Seattle, WA
(206) 903-6220

South African photographer Guy Tillim is appearing in his first solo exhibition in the United States at the James Harris Gallery in Seattle, WA. Second Nature synthesizes the beauty of the French Polynesian landscape and discerning art historical references such as Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian ‘primitive’ paintings.

Tillim has deviated from his background documenting the effects of South Africa’s apartheid, child soldiers, famine, death, and decay. He now provides us with idealistic, romantic views of sprawling landscapes bestrewn with a contemporary human presence contradictory to the environment. Panoramic views and day-to-day minutiae make up this exhibition of six, large-scale photographs.

A book of these photographs titled Second Nature will be published by Prestel.

Tillim was featured in Aperture issue 193.

Stephen Shames’ Bronx Boys

© Stephen Shames

Stephen Shames spent over twenty years photographing young boys growing up in the Bronx. Although the project started as a simple photojournalism assignment, Shames quickly became fascinated by the neglected New York suburb and continued to document the vibrant streets. The fruits of his labor are finally being published as a digital monograph titled Bronx Boys (FotoEvidence). The unconventional format provides universal access to readers from around the world, as well as options to zoom in on images for close viewing.

Stephen Shames worked with Aperture for his book The Black Panthers, commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the Party. The Black Panthers Portfolio, an accompanying set of photographs is now on sale! Visit the Black Panthers microsite.

Shames is founder of Lead Uganda, which puts AIDS orphans and child soldiers into school in Uganda. He is represented by Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, and Polaris Images. He currently resides in Brooklyn.

Child soldiers: multimedia report by Marcus Bleasdale / VII


A child soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo, from the multimedia story

Recently the Obama administration continued military aid to four countries known for their use of Child Soldiers, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Yemen and Southern Sudan by issuing a waiver to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act. In a memorandum to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Obama said he had determined that the waiver was in the national interest.

One Voice, One Thousand Children is a two part series by Marcus Bleasdale looking at Child Soldiers, in the first part, and Young Girls who are conscripted, raped and made the wives of soldiers, in the second. Atlanta Plumber . The stories are told by two distinct single voices representing many.


From a projection of images, titled “Congo / Women: Portaits of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo”, shown on the exterior of the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, last month.

Four photoreporters from the agency VII Photo — James Nachtwey, Lynsey Addario, Marcus Bleasdale, and Ron Haviv — collaborated on a heart-wrenching multimedia documentary about the plight of victims of the 20 years of war and extreme violence in the DRC. It was projected on the exterior walls of the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo last month, and will be on display in Paris next week at Espace photo BETC Euro-RSCG, 85-87 rue du faubourg Saint-Martin 75010 Paris, from March 8-13, noon to 8 pm, free.