The Rohingya people is one of the world’s most persecuted ethnic groups. More than one million have fled across the Myanmar border to crowded refugee camps in Bangladesh after they experienced horrendous abuses during the Myanmar military’s ‘clearance operations’ in 2017. Because of these atrocities, Myanmar is also facing charges for genocide before the International Criminal Court.
“No one wants to be refugee, but the situation made us refugees“.
Azad Mohamed, who is one of those who have been forced to flee says that “there was no chance for us, no freedom, no education, no business, the Rohingya community has been stripped of everything”.
The Rohingya from Myanmar have lost their homes and they live in a constant state of uncertainty and continuous trauma. In fact, the malnutrition and the vulnerable situation in the camps is contributing to a continued killing of the Rohingya people, and has therefore been called a “slow genocide”. The camps are continuously affected by flooding, fires, and the spread of disease, and the access to health care is lacking. Most of the pictures in this exhibition are taken in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, which is the world's largest and most densely populated refugee settlement.
Azad Mohamed was born in Arakan state, Myanmar. He was 20 years old when the genocide happened and he has lived in the refugee camp for almost four years and he sees no future for the Rohingya people.
“I see that our children are going to be uneducated, they will forget about their ancestral land. Thousands of Rohingya youths do not know what their future are because the place where we live isn't safe enough to dream, think or expect anything from the future”, says Azad.
Azad is also one of the founders of the photo collective “Rohingyatography” and telling the stories from the camps has become an important part of his life. He wants to show the world what the situation is like and help bring positive change about.
“We long for getting back full basic human rights and higher education”, continues Azad, but he realized that it will take time and that the Rohingya people also need international support.
“The hope is to go back to our motherland, to peace and dignity. But sometimes we feel like this hope is impossible, since international cooperation around these issues are lacking. It will take a very long time to make it possible.”
External support is essential for everyday basic services to function in the camps, but it is also vital that the international community outside of Myanmar receives information and stays engaged. Contact with the outside world, as well as the possibility of education encourages people to continue dreaming and working for a better future.
Rohingyatography was created in 2018 in the Cox Bazaar refugee camp in Bangladesh. It was the first of its kind and it was started with the aim of marketing photographers and
documenting the suffering the Rohingya have experienced since the persecution in August 2017.
"We started our journey with only a few photographers who were interested, but we can now proudly say that there are more than 25 young persons in the collective who are trying to learn to become professional photographers," says Azad Mohammed, who is one of the founders. He continues to say that, "We believe that a photo can change people's lives and that through photography we can keep memories alive".
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