The Oxford Human Rights Festival run by staff and students at the Centre of Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP), faculty of Technology, Design and Environment (TDE) at Oxford Brookes University showcases photographs taken by Rohingya refugees in the camps of Bangladesh. The exhibition entitled "The Next Generation - Young Rohingya Refugees' will run at Common Ground, Little Clarendon Street from 1-30 September and will then move to Tap Social in Botley from mid October for the rest of the year. Entrance is free for both venues. The project curator will give a talk on the exhibition on the evening of 17 September at Common Ground - booking required, states a press release.
Rohingya refugees are from western Myanmar. Over the last four decades, Rohingya have been subject to persistent human rights violations and repeated mass expulsions from Myanmar. Over 750,000 refugees fled their homes in Myanmar after August 2017. Today around a million Rohingya live in the refugee camps of Bangladesh. More than half the refugees are children under the age of 18.
Pictures on exhibit: These photographs are not taken by professionals per se. This is because refugees are not permitted to work or have a profession. All the images were taken with mobile phones. In spite of this, refugees remain very interested in communicating their lived experience into something knowable for outsiders. It is the curator's wish that through these photographs we might gain some access to the moments captured in the photographs - so that we might get a glimpse of their lives, try to understand what is happening, and perhaps do something about it.
Ro Yassin Abdumonab, Rohingya Refugee photographer participating in the exhibition says, "It's a big honour and opportunity for me to get a chance to participate in this Oxford Common Ground exhibition. This gives me the impetus to continue doing my level best."
Shahidul Alam, Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018, CPJ International Press Freedom Award winner, Bangladeshi photographer, writer, curator and human rights activist says "The tell one's own story, to have voice, to be heard, should never be things one has to strive for, but for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, that too is an aspiration. Their photographs show their struggles, and their reality. They also show hope. But above all they show their humanity. Hopefully they will reawaken ours"
Elizabeth Laskar, Coordinator of the annual festival says, "The festival took place in March this year, but due to Covid we had to take the exhibition online. With this fringe event we welcome the opportunity at Common Ground and Tap Social. It's important for people to come face to face with these images - not only do they teach us about a world we know little about but they also inspire us to reflect and take action."
Shafiur Rahman, Founder and curator of the Rohingya Photography Competition says "I am grateful to the organisers for giving the Rohingya photographers a chance to show their work. These are difficult images taken in the saddest of places. So this exhibition is an invitation to us to understand what young Rohingya refugees are living through."
Piotr Drabik, Co Founder, Common Ground says "Common Ground tries to live up to its name by supporting the underdog, listening to the unheard, and giving people who feel they have no space the place to express themselves. 'The Young Rohingya' exhibition is an embodiment of Common Ground's ethos: we try to open eyes to world issues that are misplaced in local media sources."
Professor Cathrine Brun, Director Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) School of Architecture Oxford Brookes University says "After lockdowns and isolation, we are ready to take the Oxford Human Rights Festival back into the city. I am honored that we can share this thought provoking exhibition with people in Oxford and place the situation of the Rohingyas on the agenda through their own gaze".