Image (c) Brennan O’Connor.The Lucas Dolega Award honors the young French photographer who was killed on 17 January, 2011 while covering the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia. An endowment worth 10, 000 euros is provided by Olympus to reward a photographer who is working independently in risky environments. IMAGE: A Kachin Independence Army soldier holds landmines that he made at a front-line army camp in Burma in 2012. Two weeks later, he was killed after one exploded while he was planting it.
Image (c) Brennan O’Connor.
San Francisco, CA – February 19, 2017 – Brennan O`Connor is a Canadian photographer who has worked for many of Canada’s leading publications. Recently, O’Connor has dedicated himself full-time to cover stories that otherwise remain under-reported in mainstream media. In 2010, he relocated to Asia to continue a long-term project focused on the different minority groups living on Burma’s borders, which he began in 2008.
O’Connor’s award-winning collection is 18 photographs documenting the effects on the ethnic populations whose traditional lands fall on either side of the Burmese border, a story he continues to pursue full-time.
Visit the photographer’s website, to see the more of his work: www.brennanoconnor.photoshelter.com
Minority groups documented in O’Connor’s photographs include the Karen, Shan, Kachin and Ta’ang (also called Palaung). O’Connor says, “These are minority groups in Burma that have been pushed to and beyond the country’s margins by decades of conflict and misrule under the previous military regime. Mass displacement and a corollary array of social challenges like land grabbing and blatant corruption are still common in the borderlands, despite a civilian government.
“In 2011, the military regime was replaced and a new government introduced a series of democratic reforms. Most significant was an extensive peace process that led to the signing of ceasefires with many groups. But the same year reforms started a 17-year ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the military unraveled.
“This led to fighting that continues until today.
“The conflict with the KIA and other groups based in the northeast has increased since Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party took office last April after an historic win during the 2015 elections. Acting independently of the new government, the military is launching large scale offensives in Shan and Kachin states.
“Aggravating peace efforts, some of the new large scale joint energy and natural extraction projects between foreign investors and military owned companies planned in the resource rich contested regions is creating new divisions between ceasefire and non-ceasefire groups and leading to an escalation of Burma military offensives in the region.”
Some of the other sponsors, and members of the Lucas Dolega Association, include Paris Match Magazine, Reporters Sans Frontières, Mairie De Paris (Paris City Hall), SAIF (Society of Authors of Visual Arts and Fixed Image) and UPP (Union Photographes Professionnels).
Eventually, O’Connor says his photos will be published, along with other collections of his work from the region, in a photo book called Dividing Lines.
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