A Race Divided: Chin migrants in search of identity
and a life of peace : 1st – 30th Nov. 2016

Veaejy villafranca

According to a study from the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in Delhi, India,Mizos and Chins share the same genetic, cultural, historical, and linguistic heritage as they all descend from the Zo people, who settled in the Lushai hills some seven centuries ago. At present, the geographic separation of the Northeastern town of India and Myanmar’s western border has drifted the Zos into two ethnic groups of almost the same culture and appearance: the Mizos and the Chins.  The Mizos hail from the northeastern town of Mizoram, a mountainous area of lush hills and vast greenery said to be the most peaceful amongst the troubled northern part of India. The Chins, meanwhile, come from the Chin state in western Myanmar, a place of supposed refuge and peace for this people who find their country’s surreal, uneasy sense of order in total conflict with their reticent, peace-loving nature. Today, there are at least 70,000 Chin migrants living in Mizoram primarily because of human rights abuse by the military since it came to power in 1962. They have crossed the border, illegally joining the hundreds of thousands of other ethnic Burmans trying to escape the oppression in their native land. In Mizoram, it would be hard for someone to tell who are the Mizos from the Chins. But if one would take a closer study, the ethnic rift would be obvious just around the main market area of the city’s capital Aizwal: Mizos own the nifty shops selling imported goods and electronic gadgets; and the Chins are those on the side streets selling whatever crop they have harvested for the day, usually to buy their families next meal. As the world’s focus slightly bends towards the country with a surreal sense of order,thousands still try to make their way out of the country. Even with the recent ‘release’ of Nobel Peace laureate and national heroine Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, thousands of political prisoners still rot in the Insein prison for unclear charges. In the hills, the ethnic tribes people such as the Karen, Chins, Mon, Rohingyas and others face hard unpaid labor and abuses from the military. The story of the race divided is but a microcosm of what the whole country as one solid race face. Their stories have also been told, time and time again in the broadsheets and glossies of magazines. And sadly it has also died alongside with the different headlines, time and time again. What I want to bring to the attention of the public/world is the issue of their personal space or the lack of it due to greed and political backlashes.

델리에 위치한 평화와 분쟁 연구 기관에 따르면, 약 7세기 전 루샤이 구릉(인도 북동쪽에 위치한 산맥)에 정착했던 조족의 후예인 미조족과 친족은 서로 같은 유전적, 문화적, 역사적, 언어적 유산을 공유한다. 인도의 북동쪽과 미얀마의 서쪽에 위치한 루샤이 구릉이 오늘날 경계선으로 인해 나눠지면서, 조족은 같은 문화와 모습을 지닌, 오늘날 미조족과 친족인 두가지의 민족으로 나눠졌다. 미조족은 평소 다툼이 잦은 인도 북동부 중에서도 평화롭기로 유명한 우거진 언덕들과 넓은 들판의 미조람 주 마을 출신이며, 친족은 소심한 사람들의 평화로운 대피처로 알려진 서쪽 미얀마의 친 주의 출신이다. 한편 친족은 국가의 질서에 대한 비현실적인 강요로 인해 문제를 겪고 있다.

VICENTE JAIME VILLAFRANCA (b. 1982 Manila, Philippines)

He started his career as a staff photojournalist for the national news magazine, Philippines Graphic and then going freelance in 2006. He then worked with international wire agencies such as Agence France Presse, Reuters, World Picture Network and the United Nations IRIN news wire before concentrating on his personal documentary projects.
His project about the lives of former gang members in one of Manila’s dangerous slums, BASECO compound, garnered him the 2008 Ian Parry Scholarship grant in London. He is also a full scholar at the Asian Center for Journalism Photojournalism program managed by the World Press Photo Foundation in 2007-2008, and the 2nd artist to hold residence in the Crossing Point program held in Perpignan, France in 2008. He was also part of the 2013 Joop Swart Masterclass in Amsterdam covering the theme of ‘hope’.

그는 국내 뉴스 잡지의 스텝 보도사진가로서 경력을 쌓기 시작했다. 그는 필리핀 그래픽스에서 일한 이후 2006년에 프리랜서로 활동했고, 그 뒤 프랑스 통신사, 로이터 통신사, 월드 픽쳐 네트워크, 유엔의 IRIN 통신사와 같은 국제적 뉴스 통신사들과 일을 했다. 이후 그는 개인 다큐멘터리 프로젝트에 집중하기 시작했다. 특히 BASECO compound라는 슬럼가의 범죄 조직 일원이었던 사람들의 삶을 다루었던 그의 프로젝트는 그에게 2008년 Ian Parry 장학재단의 지급을 안겨주었다. 또한 2007-2008 세계보도사진전이 경영하는 저널리즘/사진 보도 프로그램의 아시아인 센터에서 전액 장학생으로 선발되었으며 2008년 프랑스 페르피냥의 Crossing Point 프로그램에서 입주하게 된 두 번째 작가였다. 2013 암스테르담의 Joop Swart Masterclass에는 “희망”이라는 테마로 참여하기도 했다.