TNI's work on Burma began in 2003 as part of our Drugs and Democracy programme, through an investigation of opium farming in the country, but has since extended through our partnership with the Burma Center Netherlands to analysis more exclusively focused on the country's long-standing ethnic conflict.
TNI's work in Burma
The first TNI mission to Burma was in September 2003 when we visited villages in the Wa hills in northern Shan State - by that time the largest opium producing area in Burma - to assess the situation of the opium farmers there.
Since then TNI has carried out regular missions to Burma and to its neighbouring countries Thailand, Laos and China, and has been able to gain access to difficult and restricted or conflict areas, such as the ceasefire regions in northern Burma.
We have been able to meet with a wide variety of actors in the country, including representatives of the military government, UN agencies, various non-state actors, opposition groups, local and international NGOs, and most importantly, with (former) opium farmers and drug users.
More recently TNI has teamed up with the Burma Center Netherlands to produce rigourous policy analysis and stimulate strategic thinking to address the ongoing ethnic conflict in Burma, and give a voice to ethnic nationality groups who have until now been ignored and isolated within the international debate on the country.
Burma has been at civil war since 1948 and the country has lived under military rule since 1962. Decades of war and government mismanagement have caused great suffering for its peoples. Ethnic minority regions, where most of hte fighting has taken place, have suffered disproportionally. We have witnessed the devastating impact that decades of conflict and poverty have had on local communities in these war-affected areas.
Figure 1. Map of Burma
Figure 2. Ceasefire Map showing the complex arrangement of land held by ceasefire groups