‘We Are Not Getting the Basic Rights That A Human Being Needs to Survive'
Mainul Islam, a freelance photographer specializing in street photography, lives in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. This interview was conducted by Sojourners' Jenna Barnett in December and January via WhatsApp.
I STARTED TAKING photos because I want to tell the stories of our Rohingya people’s struggle.
I was born in 1994 in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. I have been living in the camp for about 28 years. [It] is known to the government of Bangladesh as the Registrar Refugee Camp. The Bangladesh government has police, Ansar members, and an executive magistrate to control the camp. There are various NGOs, but we are not getting any good service from them. I don’t think of it as a camp. This is a detention center. Educational institutions have been closed for four years. We are not getting the basic rights that a human being needs to survive. The rejection of citizenship rights for Rohingya, denial of freedom of movement, eviction campaigns, violence against women, forced labor, expulsion from their lands and property, violence and torture have made Myanmar’s ethnic Rohingya the most persecuted minority in the world.
We are trying to do many things to survive, like voluntary jobs, opening small shops, doing handicrafts ... but in every area, we face restrictions. The world does not know what is really happening in Rohingya refugee camps. They know some bad things, but they do not understand genocide. Refugees are everywhere in this world. So why this little understanding?