Every day in Burma, monks, doctors, teachers, even a popular reggae singer from Yangon, set examples of unity and cooperation, in contrast to headlines about violence between Buddhists and Muslims. On April 9, the U.S. Institute of Peace, in partnership with the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, held a screening of a film series highlighting such stories, Portraits of Diversity, followed by a discussion of how these examples can inform support for the country’s transition.

Portraits of Diversity
Pictured from left to right, Priscilla Clapp, The Venerable Tayzar Dipati, Khin Khin, Dr. Emma Leslie

The Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies commissioned the series of video portraits, directed by Kannan Arunasalam in 2014, to highlight Burma’s diverse religious and ethnic communities and the rich interfaith connections and engagement taking place around the country. The community leaders portrayed share analysis and insights into the threat of inter-communal violence and illustrate the capacity for peace leadership. USIP has drawn on the films for training on engagement across religious, ethnic and other social divides.

A question-and-answer session following the screening featured Venerable Tayzar Dipati, a monk portrayed in the film whose chief role is to care for patients with HIV and to run the monastery of young monks. Venerable Dipati has responded to rumors and built relationships with Muslims in his community in order to prevent violence from breaking out. He was joined by Executive Director of the Cambodia-based Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies who has led and supported initiatives for conflict transformation, peace and development throughout Asia since 1993.

View the trailer below.

Speakers

  • The Rev. Susan Hayward, Opening Remarks
    Interim Director for Religion and Peacebuilding, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • The Venerable Tayzar Dipati
    Leader of a Monastery in Shwebo, Northeast of Mandalay
  • Dr. Emma Leslie
    Executive Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Priscilla Clapp, Moderator
    Former U.S. Chief of Mission and permanent Charge d’Affaires to Burma; retired Minister-Counselor in the U.S. Foreign Service, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Asia Society

Related Publications

The Dangers of Myanmar’s Ungoverned Casino Cities

The Dangers of Myanmar’s Ungoverned Casino Cities

Thursday, August 6, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

As a struggling, incomplete democracy, Myanmar and its elected leaders face challenges that would confound any country. The best-known involve the military’s uneven loosening of a 50-year dictatorship; ethnic tensions and armed conflicts; the lack of a common national identity; entrenched poverty; and the complications of borders with five nations, including China. Less well known is an emerging threat that touches each of these vital concerns. Over the past three years, transnational networks with links to organized crime have partnered with local armed groups, carving out autonomous enclaves and building so-called “smart cities” to tap into the huge, but illegal, Chinese online gambling market. Myanmar’s leaders at every level and in every sector should pay serious attention to the alarming national implications of these developments.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment; Democracy & Governance

Myanmar: Casino Cities Run on Blockchain Threaten Nation’s Sovereignty

Myanmar: Casino Cities Run on Blockchain Threaten Nation’s Sovereignty

Thursday, July 30, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

On January 20, a young venture capitalist named Douglas Gan sat down in a Philippine television studio to discuss, in part, an exciting new “Smart City” project his firm had become involved in. Sporting a black hoodie over a white tee-shirt, Gan described how one of his companies, Building Cities Beyond Blockchain, was already at work in Myanmar’s Yatai New City, recording instantaneous property transfers and showing the potential of blockchain technology. It’s a start, the anchor said. Gan agreed.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment

Myanmar’s Casino Cities: The Role of China and Transnational Criminal Networks

Myanmar’s Casino Cities: The Role of China and Transnational Criminal Networks

Monday, July 27, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

Seeking to profit from China's lucrative but illegal gambling market, a shady web of actors has begun building resort cities in Myanmar’s Karen State to cater to Chinese gamblers. This report casts light on the actors behind Myanmar’s illegal gambling sector, their linkages to Chinese government entities and to Myanmar's armed groups and military, and how their actions could upend Myanmar’s prospects for peace.

Type: Special Report

Economics & Environment

Myanmar: Transnational Networks Plan Digital Dodge in Casino Enclaves

Myanmar: Transnational Networks Plan Digital Dodge in Casino Enclaves

Thursday, July 23, 2020

By: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

The plans transnational crime groups have for Myanmar’s border region with Thailand are by no means easy to understand. Shards of information lie scattered across China, Myanmar, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand. They appear in various languages in publicity videos on the internet, in business plans circulated on social media, and in white papers released by companies and individuals launching increasingly sophisticated schemes. The outline becomes clear, however, after cutting through denials and obfuscations, untangling local and international politics, and assembling the fragmentary data: A multinational cohort of individuals, linked to cross-border criminal activity, has allied with local armed groups in Myanmar to establish a base of operations beyond the reach of its civilian government. This creates an optimal environment to tap into the $25 billion-a-year illegal online gambling market in the People’s Republic of China.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Economics & Environment

View All Publications