Saw The Nay, 38, was injured by a landmine in 2005 while on duty as a police officer. Landmines have been a common feature of the civil conflict in Myanmar, playing a significant role in the warfare of the military junta, insurgent ethnic groups, and a patchwork of smaller militias. In addition to their use in combat, landmines have for decades been deployed by the Myanmar army against civilian populations as part of a military strategy known as ‘the four cuts’, intended to deprive insurgent groups of access to food, funding, recruits and intelligence.

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Seeds of Resilience

Matias Bercovich | Karen State, Myanmar

This project chronicles the Karen indigenous people's ongoing struggle for self-determination in Myanmar—a struggle that, despite being the world's longest civil conflict, remains largely unknown to the global public.

For more than 70 years, successive Burmese military governments have waged campaigns of repression and occupation of the Karen's ancestral territory. The inhabitants of these areas have resisted continuous human rights violations while striving to safeguard their environments, traditional practices, and identities.

In the aftermath of a military coup in 2021, the Myanmar Armed Forces have launched a major offensive to seize their last autonomous enclave in the Salween River basin, putting the survival of their heritage at risk. Over 100,000 internally displaced persons have been sheltering in the region's lush forests after fleeing their homes due to relentless waves of airstrikes.

When land is the basis of life, conflict and forced displacement strip people of their humanity. It disrupts the profound relationship of Karen communities to their ancestral territory, which sustains their culture and livelihoods and serves as a source of resilience in the face of adversity.

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