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Adriane Ohanesian April 8, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Burma, Myanmar.
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KIA military training in Kachin State, Myanmar 2013

Adriane Ohanesian (b.1986 USA) graduated from the International Center of Photography’s photojournalism and documentary photography program in 2010. Upon the completion of her degree, she moved to Khartoum, Sudan and has been photographing mainly in Africa ever since. Over the last few years Adriane has photographed in South Sudan, rebel controlled Sudan, Somalia, and rebel controlled Myanmar. Her work which documented the lives of the women rebel soldiers in Kachin State, Myanmar earned her recognition by Magnum Photos as one of the top ’30 under 30’ photographers for 2014. Adriane’s photographs have appeared in the New York Times, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and TIME. She is currently based in Nairobi.

About the Photograph:

“My personal project on the women soldiers of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) was a challenge that I wanted to take on for myself as most of my work has been focused on eastern Africa. Kachin State, in northern Myanmar, is not solely controlled by the government, but is held by the KIA. The KIA is the last remaining major rebel group in Myanmar that has not signed a ceasefire agreement with the government. The women of Kachin have few opportunities in this isolated region aside from serving with the KIA. From the age of 16, women are eligible to join the army and they often remain there until they are discharged for marriage. While some join out of dedication to their people, others are forcibly recruited.”

“This photo was taken before sunrise on the KIA’s military base outside of the town of Mai Ja Yang, on the border of Myanmar and China. I had been granted permission to spend the night on the base. It was still dark outside and the only light came from an orange bulb that hung from the ceiling of the small hut where ten women slept side by side on a woven platform. The soldiers, having slept in their uniforms, were reluctant to wake up for their training and snuggled down under the blankets. This scene was important to me because I felt invisible, a comforting feeling that meant that the women were open to my presence. I was standing above these two women and was tiptoeing around the others that were sprawled out next to one another. This scene demonstrated the loneliness that I often saw amongst new recruits to the army. For most of the women, military training was their first experience away from their homes and their families, and now they only had each other to turn to for support.”