Distributor:  Global Environmental Justice
Length:  24 minutes
Date:  2012
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English; Burmese / English subtitles
Grade level: Viewer Advisory: Contains graphic war footage
Color/BW:  Color


Jason Carbine, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Whittier College

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Blood and Gold

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Deep in the wilds of northern Myanmar's Kachin state a brutal civil war has intensified over the past year between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

Blood and Gold

Blood and Gold, Inside Burma's Hidden War, directed by Jason Motlagh and filmed by Steve Sapienza, was funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and published by Al Jazeera. The following overview is excerpted from a background article by Jason Motlagh on the Pulitzer Center website.

The war in Kachin reignited in 2011 when the Burmese Army attacked a Kachin Independence Army (KIA) post near a disputed hydropower dam site, ending a 17-year ceasefire. It has since ramped up its offensive, calling into question the authority of a nominally civilian government that has repeatedly ordered it to stop fighting.

More than 75,000 ethnic Kachin civilians have been driven from their ancestral lands. Human rights groups allege the Burmese Army is intentionally attacking civilian areas, with wide-spread evidence of torture, rape, forced conscription and summary executions. Both sides employ child soldiers and continue to sow the ground with land mines.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch, at least 10,000 additional Kachin refugees were stranded in make-shift camps across the border in China, where authorities still refuse to grant the United Nations and relief agencies access. Thousands have reportedly been forced back across the border, into harm’s way.

As western businesses beat a path to Ang San Suu Kyi 's homeland, Burma watchers are concerned that ongoing rights abuses against the Kachin and other ethnic minorities could be further marginalized.

“The international euphoria about the reform in Burma is definitely premature, especially with the crimes against humanity we’re seeing in Kachin state,” says Matthew Smith, a field investigator with Human Rights Watch.

Outmanned and outgunned, KIA guerillas have fought the Burmese military on and off for decades in their bid for greater political rights and control over lands rich in minerals, timber and, more recently, Chinese-funded hydropower projects that were brokered during the ceasefire period.

Teacher's Guide: Work in Progress

Curator Jason Carbine is developing the study guide for
Blood and Gold and will be combining it with the guide for
Dams, Drugs and Democracy: The Struggle for Resources in Kachin State

Please sign up for our occasional GEJ newsletter and we'll
keep you informed when we add more guides and films.
Or send a note to the coordinator, Gary Marcuse 

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Main credits

Motlagh, Jason (filmmaker)
Sapienza, Steve (filmmaker)

Distributor credits

Jason Murtlagh and Steven Sapienza

Jason Motlagh and Steve Sapienza

Directed by Jason Motlagh and and Steve Sapienza. Funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Docuseek2 subjects

Environmental Justice
Citizenship, Social Movements and Activism
Human Rights
Global / International Studies
Indigenous Studies
South Asia

Distributor subjects

Asian Studies
Drug Trade
Indigenous Studies


Al Jazeera People & Power, Jasong Motlagh, Steven Sapienza, Pulitzer Center funding, Burma, Myanmar, Irawaddy River, Kachin, Myitsone Dam, pipeline, civil war, China, refugees, Kachin Indepdence Army (KIA), Sean Turnell, Hilary Clinton, Barak Obama, Aun San Suu Kyi, Burtil Lintner, ; "Blood and Gold "; Global Environmental Justice

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