Social Issues

Refugee Day photo exhibition in Bangladesh depicts Rohingyas’ plight

Dhaka, Jun 20 (EFE).- Mohammad Jalil, a centenarian Rohingya refugee who had to flee Myanmar three times to escape persecution against the community, is among the protagonists of a photo exhibition which was inaugurated in Bangladesh on Monday to mark the World Refugee Day.

Titled “We Are Rohingya,” the exhibition is also available virtually and reveals the pain suffered by the persecuted minority over the years, as the brutal repression by the Myanmar military forced hundreds of thousands to take refuge in neighboring Bangladesh in several waves.

The 50 images were all taken by Rohingya refugees trained by Spanish photographer and researcher David Palazon, who curated the exhibition as part of his work as the curator of the Dhaka-based Rohingya Cultural Memory Centre.

“This experience had a profound effect on me, leading to life-long connections with many talented Rohingya photographers and artists,” Palazon told EFE.

The project, unveiled on the occasion of the World Refugee Day and set to continue until Jul. 7, is backed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Spanish Embassy in Dhaka and Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.

Online access to it is available on the Rohingyatographer Magazine website, established by Palazon along with dozens of photographers from the community.

“My aim as a curator working with the Rohingya community has always been to honor the strength, endurance and resilience of the Rohingya people,” the Spanish photographer said.

The exhibition includes stills of refugees categorized by age, starting from the three-month old Onayasa Khan and running up to Jalil, 102.

Jalil is one of the oldest Rohingya refugees living in the Cox’s Bazar camp in southeastern Bangladesh, having fled the Myanmar military’s campaign of violence in 2017, after already being forced to leave his country in 1978 in 1991 under similar circumstances.

Mohammad Jamal, one of the Rohingya photographers who took part in the exhibition, said he felt honored to see his work exhibited to the Bangladeshi and international community.

“I was born in a refugee camp in Bangladesh in 1995. When I saw thousands of refugees coming, I felt it is important to document their plight, so I started photography with my phone. Now some of my photographs made this exhibition. I am happy people can see Rohingyas through our lens,” he told EFE.

Apart from featuring Rohingyas, the exhibition also includes some photographs of refugees of Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971, to show the connection between the two communities, Amena Khatun, another curator of the project, told EFE.

Bangladesh houses around 925,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, including around 774,000 who have fled since 2017, following an operation that has been flagged by the UN for alleged ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide. EFE


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