International Peace Week: Thomas Nybo: Attacks Against Rohingya
In honor of the International Day of Peace and Peace Week, Lenscratch has partnered with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to feature photographic projects highlighting the lasting impacts of war, conflict, and displacement. Lauren Tate Baeza, Director of Exhibitions at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, is our guest editor.
Since the early 1960s, the political and economic disenfranchisement of Rohingya people has been institutionalized in Myanmar law. The Rohingya have also endured discriminatory acts of violence, looting, forced labor, and extortion. The minority ethnoreligious group suffered particularly violent state-sanctioned attacks in 1978, 1991, and 2017. In the most recent of these, soldiers and state security forces began an ethnic cleansing campaign including the burning of hundreds of villages, sexual violence, separation of families, and the indiscriminate killing of thousands of Rohingya civilians, resulting in the largest and most expeditious migration of Rohingya refuges to date.
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh hosts one million Rohingya men, women, and children in what is now the world’s largest refugee camp. Fleeing to the relative safety of the camp is an arduous several days’ journey through forests, steep mountain ranges, and dangerous rivers. Along the way, families create makeshifts campsites and seek protection from the elements in abandoned homes. They have limited access to food. Often, they travel with injuries. They carry small children, disabled and elderly relatives, and the few belongings they were able to salvage. Since they are vulnerable to robberies, currency and jewelry are hidden, discretely sewn into clothing.
Thomas Nybo’s series, Attacks Against Rohingya, is a photo essay on survival. It captures this harrowing exodus and the quiet resilience of people who, despite enduring tremendous loss and facing uncertain futures, press on, provide unyielding care for their families, and rebuild community.
Photographer and filmmaker Thomas Nybo has worked in more than 100 countries for UNICEF, The New York Times, CNN, PBS FRONTLINE/World and other clients.
Attacks Against Rohingya
A New York Times report this month details the confession of two Myanmar soldiers who testified on video about executions, mass burials, destroyed villages and the widespread rape of Royinyga at the hands of Myanmar’s military. One soldier said his commanding officer told him, “Shoot all you see and all you hear.”
The testimony is the first time Myanmar’s military openly confessed to coordinated, large-scale attacks against the Rohingya in Myanmar. The top United Nations human rights chief calls the attacks “textbook ethnic cleansing.” More than one million Rohingya refugees are now living in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh after roughly 200 of their villages in Myanmar were attacked by soldiers. More than 700,000 fled in 2017. Thomas Nybo spent months in Bangladesh documenting the movement of Rohingya into what has become the world’s largest refugee camp.
About the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a cultural institution and advocacy organization located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Powerful and immersive exhibits tell the story of the American Civil Rights Movement and connect this history to modern struggles for human rights around the world. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights has the distinction of being one of the only places to permanently display the papers and artifacts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Events, educational programs, and campaign initiatives bring together communities and prominent thought leaders on rights issues. For more information, visit civilandhumanrights.org and equaldignity.org.
Join the conversation on @ctr4chr (Twitter), @@ctr4chr (Facebook), and @@ctr4chr (Instagram).
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