When hope is denied

The Amnesty International?s Dutch magazine, ‘Wordt Vervolgd? invited six world recognised experts to look back at human rights issue?s of 2012.
It is a special feature of 6 images which represent 6 human rights issue?s from 2012. Last year AI had a similar successful feature by 6 international respected photographers about the arab spring.
The following photograph by Pathshala alumni Munir uz Zaman was selected by Shahidul Alam.

Rohingya Muslims look on from an intercepted boat in Teknaf on June 13, 2012. Munir uz Zaman / AFP – Getty Images

What is remarkable about this photograph is the absence of a gaze. Except for the woman who appears to look straight past the photographer it is as if the refugees have withdrawn from the world itself. Hounded by one nation, rejected by another, they are forced to return to their persecutors. Being returned to the jaws of death by the people they had considered their saviours. Land is the only material possession of an agrarian community. Farmers leave only when no other option exists. Their only hope is the belief that someone will shelter them from harm. Respond to their helplessness.
It is only at times like these that women and children venture out on their own. Facing strangers, men, in lands unknown, they willingly face probable dangers to flee certain ones. Bangladesh is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 protocol, but as a predominantly Muslim nation it theoretically offers a less hostile environment relative to the largely Buddhist Myanmar state which accuses Rohingyas of instigating violence. Given that millions of Bangladeshis were sheltered by neighbouring India during Bangladesh?s own civil war, sending back persecuted Rohingya refugees is callous in religious, historical and humanitarian grounds.
Pages from WV_NR12

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

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