Kevin Kelly went to Myanmar and took these incredible photos

Originally published at:


Incredible, indeed!


So what is the socially responsible thing to do with regard to travelling to a country that has apartheid conditions and ethnic cleansing of a large ethnic minority? Legit question.


Gonna agree with Frank - did your friend know they went to a country that has been (and still is) in the act of committing genocide?


Write your representative. Tell them about your trip and the concerns you have. If there is any new information or insight, Cc your local newscaster’s office.

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Lovely! I went there a few years ago and recognize many of those beautiful sights. The fishermen of Lake Inle are a sight, and the temples of Bagan amazing. The thanaka wearing women are everywhere, as are the longi wearing men. Looks like Kevin hit a couple of big festivals, too.

I went a bit after the military turned over control to the Aung San Suu Kyi led coalition, but would have ethical trouble going there now, tho, given how far south things have gone with the Rohingya. :frowning:


What would be the end result of that? If I think that my government should sanction the government of Myanmar, should I not also avoid going there myself? If I avoid going there does this help or hurt the Rohingya? If I go there, should I take special care to try to spend my money in such a way that it helps the Rohingya and do things like avoid visiting Buddhist temples led by people calling for Rohingya expulsion, etc.?

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Individuals acting unilaterally would not be very effective. Sometimes it’s all way have. But if we can motivate our representatives to bring the weight of the US Government against the injustices of the world that’s going to be very effective. (no guarantees that your elected officials listen to you or do anything)

Go head and go if you’re going there for journalistic, humanitarian, academic, or even artistic reasons. If you’re looking for a fun time with the family, then supporting tourism in oppressive regimes is very much a gray area and you’ll need to weigh how much locals need tourist money versus how much the oppressive government might benefit from all the visa fees and border tolls you’ll be paying.

That’s up to you, as an individual.

As a citizen of your home nation, you should influence your political leaders to do what you believe is right. And accept the democratic process if the right thing doesn’t perfectly align with your personal feelings. (it’s totally fair to disagree the decisions made by your representatives and vote them out ASAP).

My own believe is that a combination of sanctions and aid is the right course for the US and others to take with regard to Myanmar. Western political pressure and diplomacy can still be quite effective in this region.

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1943 Germany was just beautiful, I can still smell the strudel baking in the oven!

It’s easy for people rushing through life to overlook yet another atrocity in some far away place that happened to some faceless people. High profile photos that document the people, the place and the culture of location in conflict and can raise awareness and remind us all of the real people behind the headlines it is so easy to skim past.

I admit I didn’t know much about Myanmar and it’s people before this post about the photos. That’s on me. But these photos helped me see an area I need to self educate about.

Are you saying that the best thing for these people is for everyone to pretend they don’t exist?

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These aren’t pictures of the oppressed Rohingya. They are largely pictures of the dominant Bamar culture in Myanmar and some Kayan. I guess I see doing this as essentially the same thing as going to visit Johannesburg during Apartheid and taking pictures of the beautiful city for the sake of tourism. I’m not sure that this is the wrong thing to do but it seems to me that doing so requires some justification.

When the military government cuts off all access to northern Rakhine state, where the genocide is taking place, to journalists, not to mention mere tourists, how do you propose you get those ‘high profile photos’? I don’t think that posting pretty pictures of areas nowhere near the atrocities, of people in the dominant society going about their business in any way raises awareness of the crimes going on there. Quite the opposite-look how beautiful and serene Myanmar is!

It turns my stomach to think of people blithely touristing away and taking glamor shots in a country where these horrors are taking place.

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Black people are regularly murdered in the US by police, while the leaders of that country are caging brown children and encouraging far right white supremacists to terrorize minorities. Are you going to scold me if I go there and take some photos of the Empire State Building?


I’d start here:

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It will always be Burma to me.

Let’s not forget tgat whatever is happening there now, it was under military rule for decades.

The first travelog about visiting there that I read was from 1966, I read it about 1972, and it seemed pretty dismal then. It was onky four years after the military took over, likely got worse later.

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Thank you. I will start that read when I get home tonight.

I clearly have a lot to learn about this region so it’s tough for me to evaluate these OP photos other than to say that they led to this thread that led to me learning that I have a lot to learn about this region. I do see the point you are making. If the intent of the photos is just to hide atrocities behind smiling faces then obviously fuck that.

Yes, in my original post I was assuming the people in the photos were the same people that are suffering. Of course pretty photos of a dominate culture do nothing for minority groups suffering unheard and unseen.


I really hope no one falls off any of those boats.

There is no local newscaster, and my representative is in Trump’s back pocket. This ain’t 1948…