A journalist reflects on his detention by security forces, one small part of a wider crackdown on the country’s media.

Myanmar protesters under fire (Photo by Robert Bociaga)

Reporting on the current developments in crisis-torn Myanmar has become increasingly insecure and unpredictable.

When Yuki Kitazumi, a Japanese journalist based in Yangon, was arrested on February 26 while covering a protest, many observers held their breath. After five or six hours of detention at a police station in the city’s Sanchaung township, the first detained foreign journalist was finally released, but “without [his] camera’s memory card.”

“They checked all my documents, and explained that they did not notice that…


With Myanmar set to head to the polls in November, a deadly jade mine disaster in Kachin State earlier this month could provide a further blow to the popularity of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party in ethnic minority areas

When campaigning in 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party gained widespread support at home and internationally for a platform built on a commitment to national reconciliation, poverty alleviation and human rights.

But a tragedy that killed at least 174 miners earlier this month in Myanmar’s jade mining heart of Kachin State has…


Does Myanmar have concrete principles on human rights? Photo by Robert Bociaga (www.robert-bociaga.com)

In Myanmar, the hopes of ethnic groups for a better future remain overshadowed by conflicts that have smoldered for decades. In the upcoming parliamentary elections, the National League for Democracy (NLD) and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, may pay the price for the failures to deliver on their democratic promises.

Ten years ago, Maung’s family faced a difficult choice. On one chilly morning, the rebels of the Shan ethnic group demanded that one of their sons join the ranks of the insurgent group.

“My family relieved me by paying money,” recalls Maung, who back then dwelt in the hills…


A photostory on surprising policy changes in authoritarian Vietnam

COVID-19 brings surprising policy changes in authoritarian Vietnam

Vietnam contains the virus outbreak comparatively well: the number of infected is below 300 without a single case of death

Country’s economy on idle, the growth prospects lowered

For years, Vietnam’s Communist Party has been losing its legitimacy as the sole representative of the nation’s interests. In demonstrations across many provinces, the party was rebuked as a lackey of China.

As a single-party state, with omnipresent military and security people, Vietnam has been able to respond promptly to COVID-19, by enacting the strict measures.

Despite sharing a border with China and having limited healthcare resources, Vietnam has fewer than 300 cases of infected people.

www.robert-bociaga.com

As early as March, Vietnam started to lock down whole cities and specific areas in…


Human rights, freedom of speech and Coronavirus. What do they have in common?

Merlion, the symbol of Singapore. www.robert-bociaga.com

As an international hub, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus. It attracts 3.62 million Chinese visitors annually.

“I work in the respiratory ward at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and I was advised to go home straight after work, so it’s better not to meet me in person,” Julio Tiet, a hospital worker, tells me.

“I can be a source of infection if things happen unexpectedly. Now, I’m having flu [symptoms] only but who knows… The hospital has a few suspected cases of the virus.”

Julio adds that…


www.robert-bociaga.com

In recent years, China has risen to become the largest source of imports for nine of the 10 Southeast Asian countries. Also, it is an increasingly important export market for all 10.

Will coronavirus turn this relationship upside down?

Even before the outbreak, many had warned these countries about their over-reliance on China, but it is Coronavirus that has sparked a fire. And with the inflow of tourists — from China especially — practically halted, business owners are feeling the heat.

“I don’t have any customers now and I spend a total of $20,000 per month as I hired about…


In one of the last absolute monarchies of the world on the tropical island of Borneo, people call themselves the spoiled children of the sultan and do not demand democratization. But it remains to be seen how long the country’s wealth, built on oil money, will last.

It takes 3 hours to drive by car across this tiny kingdom, possessing numerous rivers and thick jungle.

Brunei has 420,000 citizens and ranks fifth in the world by GDP per capita at purchasing power parity. The oil and gas industry creates the majority of earnings, making the country vulnerable to price fluctuations…


The charms and delights of the country that handcuffs champions of freedom of speech.

The wave of transformation looms over Da Nang (Photo by Robert Bociaga)

“Time to adventure back to the sea”, the fishermen are getting ready. They load their repaired nets back to the boats, anchored at Da Nang Bay. The smell of the breeze blends with exhaust fumes from the busy road, whereas the waves fight to drown out the noise of the engines. With vigor, some boats are pushed out of the shallows at the routinely scorching sun. This everyday scene takes place against the backdrop of skyscrapers situated 10 km away from the city center.

But, can the Vietnamese people simply shrug off the past and build a free market country…

Robert Bociaga

Photojournalist featured in The Diplomat and Nikkei Asian Review www.robert-bociaga.com

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