RECENT WORK | NON-EXHAUSTIVE, UPDATED OCCASIONALLY

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EIGHT RESEARCHERS
ON TRIAL IN IRAN

The future of Iran's critically endangered Asiatic cheetah hangs in the balance. So too do
the lives of eight conservationists and researchers who sought to preserve them.

Image courtesy of Frans Lanting Studios

NAT GEO | 2019

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THE WAR FOR TRUTH
IN MYANMAR

For every conflict that plays out on the ground in Myanmar today, there’s a parallel one being waged in cyberspace.
Image courtesy of CodaStory

CODASTORY | 2019

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ONE FALLEN ANGEL
& A SKY FULL OF LIARS

On the price of blood in the apartheid state of Rakhine, from which over half a million have fled a genocide — but hundreds of thousands remain interned.

GQ | 2018

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HOW TO ASTROTURF
A GENOCIDE

Facebook investigated pro-military pages on its platform in Myanmar. They uncovered was a covert propaganda campaign aimed at influencing the masses. 

TIME | 2018

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DUTERTE TACTICS: Strongman cements power at midterms

#News
May 2018

In the Philippines, strongman president Rodrigo Duterte continues to augment and expand his grip on power, with the democratic safeguard of the senate in peril after midterm elections.

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The National

REAL FAKE NEWS:
FB hosted covert military propaganda  

#Feature
September 2018

Facebook investigated pro-military pages and accounts in Myanmar. What they uncovered was a major covert military propaganda operation, aimed at influencing millions of people.

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TIME

MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS:
Meet Iran's poachers-turned-protectors

#Feature
2019

Photo essay by Marjan Yazdi.
Meet the rangers of Masjed Mountain Protected Area in Central Iran's Yazd Province, whose fight to take on illegal poaching is a deeply personal pursuit.

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Nat Geo

IF THE FACTORY CLOSES:
Garment workers fear an uncertain future

#News
December 2018

With the EU threatening to withdraw GSP privileges under the Everything-But-Arms trade protocol, ordinary Cambodian garment workers are the ones bearing the brunt of the uncertainty.

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BBC

MEA CULPA?
Facebook tries to cover its tracks in Myanmar

#Analysis
August 2018

On August 28, Facebook made the shock announcement that it would be banning senior Myanmar military figures from its platform. But what will this achieve? And what does it mean for research?

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Asia Times

FRIENDS LIKE THESE:
Questions remain over social media's role 

#Analysis
September 2018

In the wake of the UN Fact-Finding Mission report accusing Myanmar of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, one company has been singled out for inaction online. 

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Asia Times

THE ASEAN WAY: 
Dispatches from Singapore

#News
November 2018

My coverage of the 33rd ASEAN Summit for The National. On the agenda: South China Sea Code of Conduct, RCEP, and regional divisions on dealing with Myanmar and its Rohingya crisis.  

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The National

VOYAGE FOR MADMEN: Ten months' solitary, with hard labour 

#Feature
June 2018

The 1968 Golden Globe Race was the first-ever non-stop solo circumnavigation of the globe. Nine men set out, but only one would finish. Fifty years on, in 2018, the infamous race will sail once more.

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ABC

RAKHINE IN CRISIS:
Myanmar's new chapter of exodus 

#Analysis
November 2017 

While Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's leadership and counsel has directed foreign policy engagement in years past, that time may be nearing an end. What comes next? There is only uncertainty.

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ABC

FOOD NOT BOMBS:
Yangon punks feeding the city's homeless 

#Feature
September 2016

"We had always been like, 'Fuck the system' ... But if we want to change the world, we should change ourselves. We said, 'OK, let's do it'." Out on the streets with Yangon's banana-slingin' punks.

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ABC

IS TRAVEL COMPLICITY?
On the ethics of tourism amid ethnic cleansing

#Analysis
March 2018

As hundreds of thousands of civilians flee a campaign of indiscriminate brutality by security forces, many are asking: Is it ethical to visit Myanmar as a tourist? Is a boycott effective, or does it do harm? 

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ABC

GUNS, DRUGS AND JADE: The $30b trade fuelling Myanmar's civil war 

#News
November 2017 

While Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's leadership and counsel has directed foreign policy engagement in years past, that time may be nearing an end. What comes next? There is only uncertainty.

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ABC

MAFIA-RUN IDP CAMPS: How corruption saw two kids drown in a latrine

#News 
SITTWE, 2016

Corruption in Myanmar's internment camp management system has stripped this already-vulnerable population of Rohingya IDPs of basic rights —with tragic consequences. 

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ABC

SCORCHED EARTH:
Humanitarian blockade threatens thousands

#News
November 2016

As Myanmar security forces mount a brutal and asymmetrical response to insurgent attacks, the government has imposed a humanitarian blockade — and thousands of lives hang in the balance.

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ABC

INFORMANT KILLINGS: Rohingya insurgency takes on lethal form

#Analysis
November 2017 

Civilians caught between an oppressive state with a corrupt, under-resourced and occasionally brutal security apparatus, and an insurgency with a low tolerance for opposition.

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Asia Times

 

THE DISENFRANCHISED: How to sway results
in a divided electorate

#News #Election2015
BUTHIDAUNG

In the 2010 elections, some 150,000 Rohingya Muslims in this remote corner of northwestern Myanmar were able to cast ballots. In 2015, the number of Muslim voters was about a dozen.

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IRIN News

2 FAST 2 FURIOUS:
Inside Yangon's illegal drag racing scene

#Feature
YANGON, January 2014

In Myanmar, any car can be a fast car. Decades of distorted market prices and import restrictions mean that while something might look like a Honda, it could have the engine of a Skyline.

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The Pulse

MILES TO GO:
Seven years on from the Saffron Revolution

#Longform
CHIANG MAI, November 2014

A key figure in the 2007 Saffron Revolution uprising, former monk Gambira was brutally tortured in prison. Here I write about his battle PTSD —that's Trauma with a big, big T.

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MMTimes

DELIVERANCE:
Former Khmer Rouge cadres come in peace

#Feature
ANLONG VENG, July 2016

A 'peace centre' now occupies Pol Pot's strategy room in the Dangrek mountains on the Thai-Cambodia border, where thousands of former KR cadres live. Some volunteer to educate the youth.

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ABC

LIFE AFTER INSEIN:
Counselling services for political prisoners

#News
MAE SOT, March 2015

For Myanmar's tens of thousands of former political prisoners, their release can mark the beginning of a battle with PTSD. Stigma surrounds mental health, and services fall short. 

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MMTimes

EYE IN THE SKY:
Can drones help flood-ravaged Myanmar?

#News
YANGON, November 2016 

As flooding displaces over 100,000, Myanmar's disaster-relief efforts are falling short. Drone operators want to help with damage assessment, but find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

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IRIN News

TALE OF TWO SITTWES: Inside the ghetto where no one voted

#News #Election2015
AUNG MINGALAR, SITTWE

The view on Myanmar's landmark democratic election, as seen from behind the checkpoints and the barbed wire in the Rohingya ghetto of Aung Mingalar, where almost no one was able to vote.

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MMTimes

GAME OF DRONES:
The first rule of drone club is...

#Photography
SECRET LOCATION, 2015

A group of UAV enthusiasts get together every Sunday to fly their drones and other craft at a location outside Yangon. I'd love to be more specific, but you know what they say about drone club.

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MMTimes

BURMESE DAZE:
Mixing spirits with liquor at Nat festival

#Feature
TAUNGBYONE, MANDALAY, 2013 

I'm not proud of this, which I assume is why I used the pen name 'Samantha Smartwell'. However, my friend Greg took some nice photos, and the festival itself is bonkers and well worth a visit.

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The Pulse

A SHOW OF HANDS: Myanmar's poor record on political prisoners

#Feature
YANGON + MAE SOT, 2015

The 1968 Golden Globe Race was the first-ever non-stop solo circumnavigation of the globe. Nine men set out, but only one would finish. Fifty years on, in 2018, the infamous race will sail once more.

For:

ABC

OUT OF EXILE:
Political ex-outlaws 
hit the campaign trail

#News #Election2015
YANGON

On the price of blood in the apartheid state of Rakhine, where over 700,000 stateless Rohingya Muslims have fled a brutal and indiscriminate campaign of ethnic cleansing.

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ABC

MTV REBEL MUSIC:
Musicians give voice 
to the voiceless

#Longform
YANGON, 2015

The MTV Rebel Music hub that hosted my longform piece on the music scene has disappeared without a cache ... but I've put a version here on my website, sadly without their great graphics.

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MTV

HOT PURSUIT:
Cross-border strike
or mere psy-ops? 

#News
YANGON, 2016

With one national government claiming an unlawful cross-border incursion to strike at militants harboured across the frontier, and the neighbour denying it happened at all... what went on? 

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MMTimes

WAR IN THE KOKANG:
100k cross border as heavy clashes erupt

#News
YANGON, 2015

On the price of blood in the apartheid state of Rakhine, where over 700,000 stateless Rohingya Muslims have fled a brutal and indiscriminate campaign of ethnic cleansing.

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MMTimes

BOOMTOWN:
Taunggyi's incredible fire balloon festival

#GALLERY
TAUNGGYI, SHAN STATE

Each November (or thereabouts) tens of thousands descend on the Shan capital of Taunggyi to drink whiskey, gamble and dodge fireworks. This is a collection of images from the 2013 festival.

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MMTimes

YOUNG BLOOD:
Entrepreneurs cashing in on tourism boom

#Feature
YANGON, 2014

After five decades of isolation and kleptocratic military rule, Myanmar's tourism sector is having to work hard —and fast — to meet the wants and needs of all the new overseas visitors.

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BBC

MYANMAR BACKFLIPS:
In landmark census, Rohingya don't count

#News
YANGON, 2014

Myanmar's first census in over 30 years gets underway, but the stateless Rohingya minority will find themselves denied the opportunity to self-identify — and over a million won't be counted at all.

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VICE News

WAR CRIMES ALLEGED:
'Do whatever you want to civilians'

#News
YANGON, 2014

On the eve of Obama's visit to Myanmar, the country's military is accused of war crimes during its brutal offensives in the southeast, with rights clinic claiming sufficient evidence to prosecute.

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VICE News

NOT A HOPE IN HELL:
The NLD candidate who doesn't stand a chance

#News #Election2015
BUTHIDAUNG, N RAKHINE

While Suu Kyi's NLD is wildly popular around the country, their candidate in this pocket of northwestern Rakhine definitely won't win — but that's not what his campaign is about.

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MMTimes

RED ON THE INSIDE:
Muted NLD campaign in restive Rakhine   

#News #Election2015
SITTWE, RAKHINE STATE

As the separatists and the ultranationalists took to the street with loudhailers, NLD don and military veteran U Tin Oo addressed a crowd of spies — and a handful of supporters.

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MMTimes

POTEMKIN RALLY:
Chasing the President on his bizarre pitstop

#News #Election2015
SITTWE, RAKHINE STATE

Rent-a-crowds, spies, last-minute roadworks, police disguised as journalists... The election campaign was weird as hell, but this was the only time I got held under armed guard in a carpark.

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MMTimes

NORTHWEST SHAKEUP:
Once pawns, Rohingya left without a vote 

#NEWS #ELECTION2015
BUTHIDAUNG, N RAKHINE

The government's decision to void 'white card' documentation rendered the persecuted Rohingya minority stateless and disenfranchised — and decimated any semblence of political representation.

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MMTimes

SEEING ANEW:
Eye camp restores sight for 1242 in Bago

#GALLERY
BAGO, BAGO REGION

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness. In most cases this is reversible — for $25. In one week, 1242 people had their sight restored. One woman saw her three children for the first time. 

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MMTimes

MAKE ARAKAN GREAT:
The ethnonationalist hardliners are split

#NEWS #ELECTION2015
SITTWE, RAKHINE STATE

Despite being formed from a merger of two popular Rakhine nationalist parties, the Arakan National Party remains split along factional lines. Here I speak with one of the hardest of hardliners.

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MMTimes