The DAA Satellite Center Laiza

One of DAA’s major projects of is our program of photography training and support in Kachin State, Northern Burma. Over the last four years more than 200 students have passed through photography workshops in Laiza, home of the Kachin Indepence Organization (KIO), encouraging and enabling them to document the realities of life in the region. Despite an era of apparent reform initiated by the new civilian government in Burma, Kachin State has seen a marked increase in violence, community displacement and human rights abuses associated with a reignited civil conflict between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burmese military. The images produced by these young Kachin give essential documentation of life in this isolated and under-reported area and have been used by organizations including ALTSEAN, Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) and the US Campaign for Burma (USCB) both as independent, first hand documentation of the ongoing situation and as tools for international advocacy for greater pressure on the Burmese government to end attacks against the Kachin people.

 

From the more than 200 students who have taken part in these free workshops nine have so far gone on to complete the entire course of basic, intermediate and advanced photography training, with six of these now also trained as teachers of the curriculum themselves. The first classes taught by graduates of the program have begun to take place and in this way the Kachin youth have been given the capability to continue this capacity building independently. DAA, supported by Internews, now provides micro-grants to allow students to complete extended documentary projects in the region and is currently looking for funding to make the space used for these workshops a permanent documentary arts center staffed and instructed by graduates of the program.

See some of the DAA’s advanced students’ work - Hkun Li | Zau Htoi | Jatongno.

 

October 2013 was a month of expansion for Documentary Arts Asia. Indeed, Ryan Libre, Non Tiddin and Linh Pham travelled to Kachin State to improve the satellite center of the foundation. On the second floor of Laiza’s public library, a center devoted to documentary art has grown and welcomes now everyone who has an interest in visual literacy.

It will provide resources and training to all walks of life in Laiza. From Front line commanders wanting to document the ongoing war, to NGOs wanting to document human rights abuses and environmental stories. From Internally Displaced Persons wanting to share the story of their life in the camps to University graduates aspiring to be full time photojournalists and filmmakers.

The first exhibition which took place at this center was DAA’s September 2013 exhibition about Mongolia, Nomads No More by Taylor Weidman, and had a great success among the Kachin civil society.

The generals had a very positive opinion of the center, “nowadays, media is more powerful than guns” said general Gam Shawng, Chief of the staff of the Kachin Independence Army. Unlikely at Chiang Mai’s center, people use to take much more time to read the photobooks, turning the center into a real library, gathering lots of Kachin children, discovering international photobooks and pictures.

This center is dedicated to Naw Ming, a Kachin film director and journalist who was shot and paralyzed while covering the fighting.
DAA will provide bulletproof vests for local and visiting journalists to use.