Myanmar's Chin State

PhotographerBrent Lewin
PrizeSilver in Press / Travel/Tourism
Entry Description

The sparsely populated Chin State is home several subgroups all calling themselves Zo-mi meaning 'mountain people.' Separated from the rest of Myanmar (formerly Burma) by mountains and being a travel restricted State for foreigners, the Chin have little contact with the modern world. They live in villages straddling mountain ridges and are skilled hunters who practice slash and burn agriculture. Although the Chin have the highest proportion of animists in the country, many have converted to Christianity and even more are under pressure to assimilate to Burmese culture. In recent years many Chin have relocated from their villages in into the larger communities resulting in a loss of their unique language, customs and dress. Under this pressure, the centuries old practice of facial tattooing has also been discontinued. The Chin who number roughly 1.5 million are one of the most persecuted minority groups in Myanmar. According to the US State Department, Burmese troops and officials have tried to forcibly convert the Chin to Buddhism.