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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Shafiur Rahman

Documentary filmmaker. Currently working on Rohingya issues. http://srdocs.net Twitter: http://twitter.com/shafiur Instagram: http://instagram.com/shafiur

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