A new photography book A Chance to Breathe by three ethnic-Rohingya artists from Myanmar is now available. Five years after Myanmar military- led genocidal attacks on Rohingya that forced more than 700,000 ‘s to flee their indigenous homeland,triggering international outcry.
The three photographers featured in this book are ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar. For years, Myanmar authorities targeted the Rohingya for genocide, forcing these authors and hundreds of thousands of others from their homes in Rakhine State.
Omal Khair, Dil Kayas and Azimul Hassan have been visually documenting life in the sprawling refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, since 2018. The book you hold in your hands is a selection of their photography and poetry.
While the genocide brought the plight of the Rohingya to households globally, this book is a testament to the fact that the Rohingya are more than survivors of atrocities. And the refugee camps in Bangladesh are more than a massive tent- city of victims. In these pages you will see the lived experience of Rohingya people through Rohingya lenses.
All three authors of this book are inaugural graduates of a “media fellowship” supported by Fortify Rights and Doha Debates. The authors are still living among more than one million other Rohingya in the refugee camps in Bangladesh, still dreaming of returning home.
Since 2018, Fortify Rights, in partnership with Doha Debates, provided on-the- ground photography and media skills-training for three young Rohingya refugees: Azimul Hasson, a 20-year-old youth who dreams of pursuing higher education, Omal Khair, a 22-year-old who believes that empowered women are agents of change and Dil Kayas, a 28-year-old young mother of three with a strong passion for photography. The Myanmar military forced them to flee their homes during genocidal attacks in 2017. In the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh, Fortify Rights and Doha Debates provided them with on-the-ground photography and media-skills training, and equipped them with smartphones to document their lives and engage the outside world.
Rohingya in Myanmar are largely forbidden from owning a camera or otherwise documenting daily life, and such activities are extremely dangerous. These three Rohingya photographers now use the power of photography to give an intimate peek into Rohingya life in Bangladesh. They have amassed thousands of followers online, and their work has received international awards and recognition. Most importantly, the media fellows are reframing the story of the Rohingya from one of genocide, death, and exclusion to one of life and hope. This is their first book.
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ABOUT FORTIFY RIGHTS
Fortify Rights is an award-winning human rights organization that works to ensure human rights for all. We bring laws, policies, and practices in line with human rights standards by combining three commonly separate strategies of the international human rights movement: we (1) investigate human rights violations;
(2) engage people with power on potential solutions; and (3) strengthen human rights defenders and communities through technical support. We are a team of human rights defenders who believe in the influence of evidence-based research, the power of strategic truth telling, and the importance of working in close collaboration with individuals, communities, and movements pushing for change. Our work has exposed genocide and mass atrocity crimes, ensured justice for survivors of human trafficking, prevented the arbitrary detention, and forced return of refugees, and improved protections for at-risk human rights defenders.
Fortify Rights is an independent, nonprofit organization registered in the United States and Switzerland. You can find us at www.fortifyrights.org.
ABOUT DOHA DEBATES
Doha Debates believes the world will be a better place if we make room to listen to and understand all sides of an issue and seek consensus together.
Through live events and debates, short films and podcasts, Doha Debates strives to elevate and amplify the voices of those most affected by the world’s greatest challenges. We believe that positive, meaningful change only happens when we make room to listen to diverse viewpoints and challenge ourselves to see the world through other peoples’ eyes.
War and conflict marginalize many voices, leaving communities too focused on their own survival to take part in global discussions. But we must include these voices to meaningfully advance toward peace and justice. In 2019, Doha Debates teamed up with Fortify Rights and put these beliefs into action. We equipped
three Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh with smartphones and trained them on the basics of photography. Since then, Omal Khair, Dil Kayas and Azimul Hasson have been documenting their lives on Instagram, giving the world an inside look at the lives of the world’s largest refugee camp.
We hope their photographs help you reframe the prevailing narratives of violence, death and victimhood that often describe Rohingya refugees’ experiences. Omal, Dil and Azimul’s photography tells stories of life, resilience, and hope. We think they’ll make you look at the world a little differently. www.Dohadebates.com
The FotoEvidence Association is a non-profit publishing and educational organization. Our mission is to draw attention to injustice, oppression, and assaults on human dignity through the lens of photographers working in the humanistic tradition. We fund and publish the work of the FotoEvidence Book Award and the W award winners in high-quality, hardbound photo books. FotoEvidence books focus on the most pressing social and environmental justice issues of our time, from genocide to global warming. They are published to expose injustice, to create evidence, call for accountability, and to inspire social change.
To display and distribute the work of dedicated photographers, FotoEvidence works with advocacy organizations working in the field on the issues addressed, providing visual resources for their work and a visual story that provides access, evokes empathy, and moves people to action. Fotoevidence.com
A Chance To Breathe
Omal Khair, Dil Kayas, Azimul Hasson and Shahida Win
Foreword Taimoor Sobhan and Matthew Smith
Artistic director Svetlana Bachevanova
10.5x 16 cm
Languages: Burmese and English
Price- 35 euros