Saya Sayama Misfit Edit { 75 images } Created 11 May 2016

Our small propeller plane skipped between the monsoon clouds, banking around the shore and circling downward toward the smoldering coastal city of Sittwe in western Myanmar. The first of many violent clashes between the majority Buddhist, and the minority Muslim populations had just exploded in waves of arson, murder, and rioting, rendering hundreds of thousands homeless in days.

Pillars of smoke reached up from the palm trees, past the plane windows, anchoring the city to the sky. Military helicopters crouched on flattened villages, and soldiers awaited our arrival on the small airstrip below. I was told foreigners, of which I was the only one, were to be arrested upon entry.

Having recently softened towards non-state journalism, and with restrictions on press freedom lifting slowly, Myanmar was changing fast. It’s fifty year military dictatorship had been the catalyst for a slew of human rights abuses, stunting economic, social and technological development, and keeping the country mostly absent from international coverage.

I got sucked in over the years. In a time between real dictatorship and real democracy, by history and the future, by the density of the cities, and the peace of the farmlands. By the crumbling architecture, and the musty smell of a place that never fully dries. By the friends I’d made, and the friends I’d lost. By limitless generosity and the warmest greetings. By life and by death.
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