Young Rohingya photographers capture life in the world’s largest refugee camp

A new virtual exhibit explores the identity of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims living in the world’s largest refugee camp, through the lens of Rohingya photographers.

Around 900,000 Rohingya refugees live in the Cox’s Bazar region of southeastern Bangladesh after fleeing neighboring Myanmar, where they have long been persecuted by the government. More than half of them are under 18, according to the UN refugee agency.

Their future remains uncertain years after the biggest exodus in 2017, when Myanmar’s security forces were accused of driving the Rohingya out of the country with a large-scale campaign of murder, mass rape and arson. The military denies allegations that the US government declared genocide earlier this year.

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The virtual exhibitionlaunched in June on the occasion of World Refugee Day, gives young Rohingya people the opportunity to express themselves around themes such as memory, loss, love and hope, according to the organizers.

Shaiful, 22, says the Myanmar military shot him in the back in 2017.Azimul Hasson

“With this exhibit, we want the world to see the Rohingya refugee community through our own eyes,” Sahat Zia Hero, founder of Rohingyatographer magazine and one of the exhibit’s curators, said in a press release. “We want people to see us as human beings, like everyone else and to share our hopes and dreams, our sadness and our grief with others, to bond.” Shaiful, 22, says he was returning from fishing in a nearby lake when he saw military forces surrounding his village in Myanmar’s Rakhine state on August 25, 2017. Houses had been burned down and he was afraid for his parents and siblings. .

“I wanted to help, but I was scared for my own life,” he said. “A soldier saw me and shot me in the back.”

Shaiful fell and the soldiers thought he was dead. When he opened his eyes, he said, he was bleeding and couldn’t move. Neighbors helped him flee to Bangladesh, where he was treated in hospital.

“I want justice for myself and for those who have been murdered in my community,” he said.

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