Since Thein Sein became president of Myanmar (also called Burma) two years ago, he has won international praise for his attempts at democratic reforms. He has received historic visits from Western leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has praised Sein for “his vision, leadership, and courage to put Myanmar on the path to change.” And last year,Foreign Policymagazine named him Thinker of the Year. Now, the International Crisis Group (ICG) plans to present him with its In Pursuit of Peace award at a gala dinner in New York City in April, for having “transformed the lives of millions and brought us closer to a world free of conflict.”

A world away, in the remote mountainous region of Kachin in northern Myanmar, news of the peace award was greeted with horror. Lives in Kachin have indeed been transformed, but not for the better. Up to 100,000

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