The Kachin

The Kachin are a majority-Christian ethnic group made up of numerous tribes, located in Upper Burma. In 1876, Protestant missionaries cultivated relationships with the Kachin and many converted to Christianity. Kachin leaders signed separate treaties with the British that granted them significant autonomy in the area known as the Kachin Hill Tracts. The Kachin also allied with the British during WWII, while the majority Burmans switched their allegiance to the Japanese. They were one of the ethnic minorities that comprised the Burmese military in the colonial period at the expense of the Burmans. They received a semi-independent state as a result of the 1947 Panglong Agreement, but this agreement was abrogated following the military coup of 1962. This decision led to a several-year civil war with the central government. Fighting resumed again in 2011, although China sought to broker a peace deal to preserve security near its borders and ensure the safe passage of oil and natural gas over Kachin lands. The Kachin seek not only greater autonomy, but a say in how natural resources in their lands are used and how the wealth generated is directed.


James Minahan, Ethnic Groups of South Asia and the Pacific: An Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2012).