Chien-Chi Change | The Price of Isolation


Country of origin: United States
Project location: Burma
Program: Magnum Foundation Fund
Year: 2016

When Aung San Suu Kyi took office in March, 2016, it was supposed herald a new era in the history of a troubled land. For half a century she embodied the hopes of what Myanmar might become - democratic, prosperous, and a bastion of human rights.

Yet, supporters were struggling to explain why so little had been accomplished or even attempted. No agricultural reform. No outreach to the ethnic armies that claim large sections of the country. And most surprising was her rejection of human rights protection for the embattled Rohyingya, a 1.5 million member ethnic group facing genocide, according to human rights groups. Critics say she refuses to delegate power, crippling the government and creating a “dictatorship of one.” Other experts say it is too quick to judge her given Myanmar’s problems. “Give her time,” they argue. This leaves the question of whether the impoverished country has that time.