Photo Exhibition: Story of Stateless Rohingya
The photo exhibition titled ‘Rohingya’ currently open at the Java Gallery in Sarajevo shows photographs by David Verberckt, an independent reportage photographer currently living in Budapest, Hungary.
David Verberckt is keeping his photographic work close to people, their destinies, hence his reportages portray peculiarities of an often deprived civil society affected by latent or bygone conflict. He is known by his photo series such as Frozen Conflicts in the Caucasus depicting the ordinary people whose life is in limbo following the conflicts of the nineties and Palestinian Chronicles as a continuation of the series taken in early nineties, focusing on the daily realities of the numerous refugee camps’ population.
Recently, he is working on subjects depicting hard labour and seasonal migration flows in the overpopulated Bengal bay and documenting statelessness of Bihari and Rohingya.
Over a million Rohingya live in Myanmar (Burma) where they are stateless in their own country. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority, living mainly in the Northwestern Sate of Rakhine, Myanmar (Burma). They have been discriminated, persecuted and deprived of citizenship since the end of the seventies by the Burmese authorities and are not even recognized as a minority. As a result, Rohingya have been segregated and excluded from civil society in places they have lived for several generations. Without citizenship or documents, Rohingya belong to no country and are deprived of civil, social and human rights.
Prospects for education, employment, basic human rights, such as housing and access to medical facilities, and hope for dignified life are practically inexistent and impossible for the stateless. Thousands have fallen victim of human smugglers on their way for a better life in Malaysia or India, ending up in prison camps and held for ransom or in situations of bonded labour. The proportion of families that have been resettled in Europe or the US where they can start a new life is extremely low compared to the scope of this forgotten tragedy. Having usually no other document than a registration card, Rohingya are usually not allowed to travel within their own or host country without the risk of being arrested and jailed. Being stateless keeps them in a poverty limbo on the extreme margins of society.