Ethnic identity determines to a large degree who belongs to the Burmese polity, and the place in it of those who do; some groups are de facto relegated to subordinate positions in a hierarchy dominated by the Bamar majority. But the Rohingya are excluded altogether. Since the late seventies, the government’s policy has been one of containment.
Myo Thu Gyi was the first village attacked by the security forces. Until now, the area has been completely closed off to foreign journalists, but TIME was granted a permit to visit Maungdaw independently, the first since the violence began.
In all likelihood, the attacks were carried out by militants from Rakhine State's mostly stateless Muslim minority, known as the Rohingya. In the aftermath, three districts in the north of the state were declared a "military operations area," and the security forces launched the still ongoing "Operation Backdoor" to hunt down suspected attackers.
The administration of President Thein Sein has refused to disclose any evidence the “Myanmar Muslim Army” is real, and this has raised the prospect of the government inventing an Islamic terrorist threat to justify a new front in its longtime persecution of Muslims. All of them were arrested between September and November.
On one side of a checkpoint, he is a Muslim living in a wretched refugee camp. On the other side, he belongs to the majority Buddhist community in northwestern Myanmar's Rakhine State. The checkpoint separates Buddhists and Muslims in a region that erupted in sectarian violence in June 2012, forcing more than 70,000 internally displaced Rohingya Muslims into camps.
Sittwe, Myanmar - Ruk and Kun Suma were born five minutes apart on March 27 in a camp for displaced Rohingya in Rakhine State, a northwestern province of Myanmar. Their mother, an emaciated 40-year-old woman named Noor Begun, suffers from tuberculosis and is unable to breastfeed them. The family cannot afford milk either.
Husbands, neighbours, grandsons – police and troops dragged them from their homes in Myo Thu Gyi, Rakhine state, and executed them. All were innocent civilians say witnesses to the killings, revenge for police deaths in a rebel raid
'I didn’t know it was going to be like this,' says Mohammad Idiris, a Rohingya Muslim speaking from a refugee camp in Aceh. 'If I had known, I would have stayed in Myanmar.' Last October, Mohammad Idiris put himself in the hands of human traffickers in Myanmar. His decision followed years of ethnic persecution of Rohingya Muslims, and it started a harrowing journey of more than six months that never brought him to his chosen destination, Malaysia.
While a war with government troops continues, drug addiction is proving just as destructive in Kachin State. By Carlos Sardiña Galache Photography by Antolin Avezuela Aristu. Thirteen men lie under blankets in a cramped room during the cold winter in Mai Ja Yang, a small town in Kachin State, northern Myanmar.