Rohinya .. Photo Exhibition by Suthep Kritsanawarin
LAMBDA PRINT .. by IQ LAB
Who is Rohingya?
No one will set out willingly on a death-bound journey. Yet Rohingyas board old. Rickety boats, risking hunger, thirst, and possible death. No one will become slaves willingly. Yet Rohingyas suffer through human trafficking and modern day slavery. They do so because they are desperate and hopeless.
Rohingyas, the ethnic Muslim minority in Burma. Are treated as aliens and discriminated in their own country despite their continued existence there for centuries. They face systematic oppression of forced labor, arbitrary arrest, and land confiscation. Only Rohingyas must apply for travel passes even to go to the next village less than a mile away. So, they cannot goto mosques for prayer or to marry or even study or work. Only Rohingyas. But not Buddhist Arakanese, face exorbitant and outrageous taxation for land, property, and activities such as repairing houses, marrying someone. And giving birth. Thus. They are without human and civil rights. They live in fear and without freedom.
The laissez-faire attitude of other countries in the region has resulted in mass exodus of Rohingyas since the 1970s and it continues to thisday. Currently. At least 50,000 Rohingyas live in squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh and more spread out in other countries. Those in Bangladesh have been waiting in vain for almost two decades in official camps in hopes of resettlement to a third country. Others living in unofficial camps have no hope of resettlement or citizenship or even food or medicine. Out of desperation, they board rickety boats from Bangladesh to find better lives elsewhere. Boats filled with Rohingyas have turned up in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and even Australia in recent years. Along the way hundreds suffer hunger and thirst: many die in the sea without trace. Lucky ones who escape death enter into indentured servitude – the modern-day slavery – in Thailand and Malaysia.
Even in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, Rohingyas live in fear. Exploitations and abuses of Rohingyas by locals and authorities in these countries are well-documented. While United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM), and other international non-governmental organization (iNGOs) work to ameliorate Rohingya situations, no unified, concrete policies have been adopted to benefit those who are from the area once called “the Palestine of Farther East.”
Obviously, these complex situations cannot be solved overnight. For one, working in Burma, the origin of the suffering and misery, is nearly impossible due to its current military regime. Nearby countries, while suffering from all the consequences of Rohingya refugees, have not pressured Burma. For another, these countries have poor records on dealing with refugees themselves. Not surprisingly, none of the regional countries except Australia have signed the UN Refugee Convention of 1951.
Suthep Kritsanavarin is one of Thailand leading photojournalists. His award-winning work has been published internationally in: the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, National Geographic Thailand, Geographical, Aera and Japan Times. Suthep has covered environmental, social and humanitarian issues in Southeast Asia for nearly two decades.
Suthep's work is based on his firm belief that a photojournalist mush act as a conscientious observer of society and culture. He has to contribute to social change on a local and global level. He achieves these goals by working on a project over long durations to build deep understanding on the topic and to establish trust among the communities where he works. Suthep's powerful images create in-depth documentary essays shot over protracted periods of time on his own initiative and funding.
Suthep traveled to Burma within a week after Cyclone Nargis that devastated the country. Suthep was able to visit distant areas devastated by the cyclone and chronicled the suffering of people caused by the military government's actions or lack thereof. His images bore witness to the destruction, torment, and despair not only caused by the cyclone but also exacerbated by the government.
His cyclone Nargis work received the Days Japan International Photojournalism Award 2009 and be one of the finalist for 2008 Care International Award.
In 2008 Suthep received the Days Japan International Photojournalism Award and was selected for the Best of Photojournalism award from the US-based National Press Photographers Association from his Mekong work. His Mekong photo documentary was awarded a grant by the Blue Earth Alliance.
After the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Suthep co-founded and worked as the Photo Director of InSIGHT Out! Photography Project. The project teaches children to document their lives through photography in tsunami-affected areas in Banda Aceh, Indonesia and Phang Nga Thailand. He is only the Asian Tutor for young Asian Photographers at the Angkor Photography Festival.
Suthep has exhibited his documentary photography in Thailand, Cambodia, China, Japan, Germany and including; Siphadon Mekong Fishing Under Threat, Kuay and Elephants: Struggling for Survival, Life in Xinjiang, Chin and Hunters and Monk in Thailand.
Suthep's images have been used by international and regional and organizations for campaigns and education. The World Wildlife Fund, the International Rivers Network and Terra are using his photos from the Mekong project in their campaigns about the impact of the construction of local dams in Laos and Cambodia.