Demo-crazy is a view on a country in transition. In 2013 Myanmar was changing rapidly from one day to the next. Having kept the country and it’s people isolated from the rest of the world for over 50 years, the brutal dictatorship was loosening it’s grip . The country, once known as the ‘Bread Basket of Asia’ had been reduced to poverty, the population was not only starved of food but of health and education. It’s seven ethnic groups dangerously divided.
At this time the borders were opening to foreign trade, tourists were starting to fly in and the state controlled media was being allowed new freedoms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s carried the nations hopes for the future assuming power in the country’s first democratic elections. The people were looking to the future with excitement as well as trepidation.
It was during this time that I photographed and recorded interviews with Myanmar’s rebel leaders and refugees in Kachin state where a civil war was still playing out. I captured images and spoke with charity leaders who worked to get aid to the most cut off and oppressed parts of the country in Chin state, and also with lawyers and members of the National League for Democracy party (NLD), with members of the press and with the monks and students who had been party of the 1988 uprising and paved the way for this turning point.
Every where I went there was a sense of tension, the country holding it’s breath, waiting to see if the ‘opening up’ could be trusted. The question of who and what could be trusted was pervasive throughout my time in Myanmar. Some people wouldn’t talk to me about anything but the weather, afraid that secret police would be listening in, others had faced prison many times and were happy to speak openly. I was confronted by the police once and on another occasion followed by the secret police.