Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Violence against Rohingya exposed in 'shocking photos'

In the torrential night-time rain, the sheets that covered them clung to the bodies.
“You couldn’t see how many were under the sheets, but what I could see was that most were children,” Sagolj said.
The photo he captured was one of a series awarded the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography on Monday, described by the judging committee as “shocking photographs that exposed the world to the violence Rohingya refugees faced in fleeing Myanmar.”
An exhausted Rohingya refugee woman touches the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal, in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
The latest crackdown by authorities and Buddhist civilians against the Rohingya population in Myanmar’s Rakhine state created a mass exodus of over 600,000 Rohingya children, women and men who fled their homes at the end of 2017.
The refugees have reported killings, rape and arson on a large scale, and senior United Nations officials have described the violence against the Muslim Rohingya population as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
Myanmar has denied ethnic cleansing or systematic human rights abuses, saying it waged a legitimate counter-insurgency operation. The army has said its crackdown was provoked by the attacks of Rohingya militants on more than two dozen police posts and an army base last August.
Reuters has covered the plight of the Rohingya since 2012, but in 2017 it became clear that the scale of this exodus was far larger than previous migrations.
For the next several months, a team of photographers, including Sagolj, Cathal McNaughton, Danish Siddiqui, Soe Zeya Tun, Adnan Abidi, Mohammad Ponir Hossain, and Hannah McKay, working under the direction of Asia Pictures Editor Ahmad Masood, documented the journeys of refugees by sea on rickety fishing boats and over land through barbed wire and along other routes.
They also visited refugee camps to tell the stories of the new lives the Rohingya built and the scars they brought with them.
Smoke is seen on the Myanmar border as Rohingya refugees walk on the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal.
Smoke is seen on the Myanmar border as Rohingya refugees walk on the shore after crossing the  Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal. 11 Sep 2017. Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh. Reuters/Danish Siddiqui : Maungdaw, Myanmar. Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun :The remains of a burned Rohingya village is seen in this aerial photograph near Maungdaw, north of Rakhine State, Myanmar."I had the impression that these people want everybody to know what happens to them," Sagolj said. "They all really wanted their story to be told."Rohingya refugees cross the Naf River with an improvised raft to reach to Bangladesh in Teknaf.Rohingya refugees cross the Naf River with an improvised raft to reach to Bangladesh in Teknaf. 12 Nov 2017. Teknaf, Bangladesh. Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain : 2 Nov 2017. Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Reuters/Hannah McKay :Rohingya refugees are reflected in rain water along an embankment next to paddy fields after fleeing from Myanmar into Palang Khali, near Cox's Bazar.A security officer attempts to control Rohingya refugees waiting to receive aid in Cox's Bazar.21 Sep 2017. Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Reuters/Cathal McNaughton: A security officer attempts to control Rohingya refugees waiting to receive aid in Cox's Bazar.24 Sep 2017. Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Reuters/Cathal McNaughton :Rohingya refugees scramble for aid at a camp in Cox's Bazar.Rohingya siblings fleeing violence hold one another as they cross the Naf River along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Palong Khali, near Cox’s Bazar.1 Nov 2017. Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Reuters/Adnan Abidi :Rohingya siblings fleeing violence hold one another as they cross the Naf River along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Palong Khali, near Cox ’s Bazar.An exhausted Rohingya refugee fleeing violence in Myanmar cries for help from others crossing into Palang Khali.2 Nov 2017. Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Reuters/Hannah McKay:An exhausted Rohingya refugee fleeing violence in Myanmar cries for help from others crossing into Palang Khali.

 
Rohingya refugee children fly improvised kites at the Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar.10 Dec 2017. Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Reuters/Damir Sagolj :Rohingya refugee children fly improvised kites at the Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar.Bodies of Rohingya refugees, who died when their boat capsized while fleeing Myanmar, are placed in a local madrasa in Shah Porir Dwip, Teknaf.9 Oct 2017. Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh. Reuters/Damir Sagolj : Bodies of Rohingya refugees, who died when their boat capsized while fleeing Myanmar, are placed in a local madrasa in Shah Porir Dwip, Teknaf.Rohingya refugees try to take shelter from torrential rain as they are held by the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) after illegally crossing the border, in Teknaf.31 Aug 2017. Teknaf, Bangladesh. Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain :Rohingya refugees try to take shelter from torrential rain as they are held by the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) after illegally crossing the border, in Teknaf.
While the size of camps expanded, one thing that never changed was the stories the refugees brought with them.
“The same horror stories of killings and rape and massacres that we were hearing when the first refugees started crossing in August and September, the exact same – if not worse – stories were being told three months after that,” Sagolj said.
Even as the team captured images of the refugees at their most vulnerable – mourning mothers, scarred children, survivors of violent attacks – the journalists found that the refugees were surprisingly open. The photographers experienced almost no resistance from refugees as they photographed the refugees and asked about their experiences.
“I had the impression that these people want everybody to know what happens to them,” Sagolj said. “They all really wanted their story to be told.”
Reporting by Andrea Januta, Editing by Leela de Kretser and William Maclean.
To see all the pictures, click here.

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