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Project July 24, 2020

Buried Hopes: Stories from Kachin's Jade Mines

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On July 2, a landslide killed approximately 200 people in the world's largest jade mines, in the Hpakant region of Myanmar's Kachin State. Though the landslide was the deadliest in recent history, it marks just the latest of annual occurrences. The victims were among an estimated 300,000 unlicensed freelance jade miners gambling their lives on the hope that a precious find will pull them out of poverty. Yet the odds are bleak, with the mines' vast wealth concentrated in the hands of military and armed elites and their cronies.

This project seeks to push beyond the news coverage which swells annually following landslides in Kachin. All outputs are the result of collaborations with Kachin partners, including photographer, illustrator, interviewer, analyst and translators. More than 15 interviews were conducted with diverse stakeholders in the jade industry, in Hpakant and the Kachin State capital, Myitkyina. The pieces in this project explore their stories as well as their perspectives on an industry where countless lives have been lost despite perpetual calls for reform.

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