Map drawn by a Rohingya refugee-an eyewitness to the event. Name withheld

A fire broke out in Kutupalong Bazar around 2.30am of April 2nd. Three Rohingya refugees burned to death. There are rumours that they were found in a locked shop. Several Rohingya-owned shops were destroyed, including stock worth thousands of dollars. The fire was finally brought under control after three hours.

The above map shows the two locations where refugees had to tear open the barbed wire fence in order to escape with their stock. There was a third smaller opening created to push through shop stock but not sufficiently large for people to walk through. …

Speech by Shafiur Rahman at the Oxford Human Rights Festival Launch, 11 March 2021

Image by Abul Kalam, Kutupalong Fire 2020.

Thanks very much for the opportunity to address the Oxford Human Rights Festival. I am going to be talking about refugees . And specifically I am going to be talking about refugees from western Myanmar called Rohingya. Over the last four decades, Rohingya have been subject to persistent human rights violations, and repeated mass expulsions from the country. About a million Rohingya live in the refugee camps of Bangladesh. I have been involved with them for four years now and last year I held a photographic competition. This evening, I want to share with you my thoughts about that competition.

The concept of disruption, the theme of this festival, applies to all refugees but i wonder if it applies to Rohingya in particularly amplified ways. It applies to all refugees because they are forced to leave their country on account of war or persecution. This leads to completely uncertain and disrupted lives. Becoming a refugee entails the loss of one’s home, livelihood, possessions, social networks. Everything. The world someone knows goes away when they make the journey out of their homeland. …

Award-winning photographer Abul Kalam, arrested 28 December.

On the morning of 28th December 2020, an award-winning photographer and Rohingya refugee, Abul Kalam, set out to take photographs of buses departing the Kutupalong camps for Bhasan Char. He was apprehended and then taken to the Camp-in-Charge in Camp 2W Block D5 of Kutupalong and subsequently to the Camp-in-Charge of Kutupalong Registered Camp. He was reportedly beaten when he was apprehended.

Abul Kalam was detained at the Kutupalong police barracks until late afternoon of Wednesday 30th December. According to Bangladeshi law, a person in custody should be brought before the courts within 24 hours. This was not the case for Abul Kalam and, at the time of writing, he has been detained for more than 60 hours. This is a clear violation of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the directives of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court in BLAST v Bangladesh (55 DLR 363).

Photography is not a crime. Abul Kalam was taking photographs of…

Rohingya refugees bidding goodbye to family members in Kutupalong Camp 1 West, 3 December 2020 (Pic by MUD2020)

Republished in South East Asia Globe

Just two months ago, a flurry of videos about Bhasan Char began appearing in Bangladeshi media. There was a coordinated production of what can only be described as infomercials about the island. The videos all followed a similar script: Reporters, including some well established presenters, would arrive, sniff the sea air, admire the sheep/livestock and watch the waddling geese. Copious amounts of supplied drone footage wowed the viewer. Overall, the idea was to woo the audience with soothing background music and visuals of a rural idyll interspersed with effusive commentary. Indeed in one video, the architect of the place calls Bhasan Char a “paradise” built for the “lucky” Rohingya.

These video reports stood in stark contrast to those which emerged three months ago from Bhasan Char, around the beginning of September 2020. Those depicted wailing women and children begging to be allowed to return to the camps. Another video showed two desperate women wanting to go back with their visiting relatives being manhandled and led away by police. These particular individuals had been rescued from a trafficked boat after failing to berth in Malaysia or Thailand. For months, more than three hundred Rohingya had endured abuse and hunger on their failed voyage. After their rescue, the Bangladesh authorities quarantined…

Mr Enuga Reddy at the Hector Pieterson Museum, Orlando West, Soweto. 2010 ( Copyright: Shafiur Rahman)

Mr E S Reddy outside Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island ( photo: Shafiur Rahman)

Mr Enuga S. Reddy, a former UN Assistant Secretary General and Chairman of the Special Committee Against Apartheid, passed away on 1 November 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Aside from his pre-eminent role in organising the worldwide campaign against apartheid, Mr Reddy also authored and edited books and articles on the South African liberation movement and many of its prominent figures.

His family released a short statement:

E.S. Reddy, beloved husband of Nilufer Mizanoglu Reddy, father of Mina Reddy and Leyla Tegmo-Reddy, grandfather of Emilio and Manuel Flores, Chris and Nils Tegmo, great grandfather of Rohan Flores, Kai and Charlie…

Background to the Registered v Unregistered Kutupalong Refugee Camp violence

Image by Sahat@Zia Hero Naing

A version of this article was published in the Dhaka Tribune

In the first week of October 2020, a certain number of Rohingya refugee camps in Kutupalong became battlegrounds. Around two thousand people left their shelters and sought refuge in nearby camps, away from the violence. Hundreds were injured, and there were 9 recorded deaths. There have also been a number of abductions and disappearances. The local media described the incidents as “factional clashes” between Rohingya groups seeking to establish “control over the contraband drugs trade”. …

How a former Myanmar military man, who converted to Islam & married a Rohingya woman, escaped from Tula Toli. Podcast with Mabia, his widow

Nojumu and Mabia in Kutupalong, Bangladesh

The carnage that took place in Tula Toli in Myanmar on 30 August 2017 has produced some remarkable stories of survival and defiance. One of these is the story of Nojumu Islam. Born in Yangon, he was a Burmese soldier and lived with his Rakhine wife in Wut Kyein near Tula Toli . …

Zoom screen capture with participants from Left to Right Dr M Zarni, Dr M Charney, Nay San Lwin, Dr K Southwick, Dr C R Abrar and Sharifah Shakirah

A significant online discussion event took place on 16 July, 2020 addressing the issue of Rakhine and Rohingya reconciliation. Its lofty ambitions were summarised thus by Dr Maung Zarni.

“Our seminar today embarked on the long term program of de-imagining and de-colonizing Myanmar as an internally colonial state and re-imagining a new type of genuinely post-colonial society and a cluster of autonomous regions with a set of inclusive national and regional identities based on common good, multiculturalism, and respect for all faiths”.

The very topic is an extremely sensitive one given the recent history of Northern Rakhine State. Many people…

Shafiur Rahman

Documentary filmmaker. Currently working on Rohingya issues. Twitter: Instagram:

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