Exiled to Nowhere: Burma’s Rohingya

22-year-old Dilara and her children arrived in Bangladesh on September 9, 2017 after her village in Maungdaw was destroyed by Burmese authorities. She has been suffering from a high fever for over ten days. Copyright Greg Constantine.

April 5 – April 11, 2019

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Oregon Historical Society Pavilion
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205
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Free and open to the public

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic minority from western Burma (also called Myanmar). For over fifty years, the Rohingya community has endured a legacy of systematic discrimination, persecution, and targeted violence at the hands of the Burmese authorities. The Government of Myanmar has rejected the Rohingya as an ethnic community from Burma and, since 1982, has denied the Rohingya of citizenship. Today, the Rohingya are the largest stateless community in the world.

In August 2017, the Burmese military launched a new ‘scorched earth’ clearance operation against the Rohingya. Mass killings, rape, and the destruction of hundreds of Rohingya villages by the Burmese military and local Buddhist Rakhine community forced over 700,000 Rohingya men, women, and children to abandon their homeland, leave their belongings and possessions behind, and flee into southern Bangladesh. Officials from the United Nations have described this campaign as a ‘textbook example’ of ethnic cleansing while others claim it is another stage of an ongoing genocide toward the Rohingya that has been slowly progressing for decades.

Documentary photographer Greg Constantine has spent 13 years documenting the ongoing abuses against the Rohingya. His work and the exhibition, Exiled To Nowhere: Burma’s Rohingya, have been shown in over 25 cities around the world. The exhibition documents not only the plight of the Rohingya, and how the tactics taken over time have led to the near destruction of this community, but also how, in spite of all that has been done to destroy them, the Rohingya continue to find a way to survive and persevere regardless of the ground beneath their feet.

The exhibit will be augmented by Portrait of a Rohingya Refugee: Mohammed Husson Ali. To Bear Witness, a project of TheImmigantStory.org, seeks to draw attention to senseless, mass killings by providing a forum for stories of survivors of Holocaust and genocide. Dramatic images captured by renowned Portland photographers Jim Lommasson and John Rudoff enrich these gripping personal histories. To Bear Witness seeks to document stories that might otherwise go untold, to educate the public and to raise questions about why these humanitarian crises that lead to genocide continue, even today. Mohammed Husson Ali is a Rohingya refugee living in Portland, Oregon. He is the only member of his family that has been able to come to the U.S. He has one son in Malaysia and the rest of his family, including his wife, children, and grandchildren, remain in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Copyright Greg Constantine

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya flooded into southern Bangladesh after Burmese military forces launched a widespread clearance operation throughout the Rakhine State in August 2017. The north-south highway between Cox's Bazar and Tenaf is a steady flow of Rohingya refugees.

Copyright Greg Constantine

After fleeing Myanmar by boat the prior night, a group of Rohingya women and their children take sanctuary at a local mosque in Shah Puri Dwip. Most will stay the night before traveling north to the massive refugee camps in Kutupalong and Balukhali. The women lived in Maungdaw township in the Rakhine State of western Myanmar.

Copyright Greg Constantine

Rohingya who arrived from Myanmar wait in the town of Shah Puri Dwip for small boats to take them to mainland Bangladesh They then travel another 2-3 hours to the sprawling refugee camps.

Copyright Greg Constantine

Under a tarp in the back of a truck during a heavy monsoon rain, Amina holds her sick child and makes the two-hour journey with other Rohingya from Teknaf to a refugee camp in Balukahli.

Copyright Greg Constantine

An older Rohingya woman is carried by family members to their hut in the refugee camps in Bangladesh. Most Rohingya spent days and sometime weeks walking from their destroyed villages in Myanmar to the border of Bangladesh.

Copyright Greg Constantine

22-year-old Dilara and her children arrived in Bangladesh on Sept 9, 2017 after her village in Maungdaw was destroyed by Burmese authorities. She has been suffering from a high fever for over ten days.

Copyright Greg Constantine

Hundreds of youth from the Buddhist Rakhine community chant racist, anti-Rohingya slogans at a demonstration in Sittwe in late 2014. The demonstration attracted several thousand people who do not recognize the Rohingya as being a community from Burma.