Activism through lens: Fojit’s response to Rohingya crisis
Rafiqul Alam Khan
According to the Amnesty International they are “one of the most persecuted minorities in the world”. Their exodus from Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh, have initiated a state of catastrophe across the eastern shores of Bay of Bengal. Humanitarian condition so heartbreaking, that it compels to move the human conscience. Like others, Fojit Sheikh Babu- a Dhaka based photo journalist from Bangladesh became traumatized to see their despaired condition. In his words, the recent influx of refugees reminded him of his childhood when the Rohingyas first started to arrive in Bangladesh in massive numbers.
Fojit’s latent activism and desire to help people with no grounds pushed him to get in the field with his lens. He started to document the sufferings, maladies and pains of the Rohingya community who took shelter in the southern Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar. He frequented the camps, without caring rain, mosquito bites and scorching heat of the sun so that he can disseminate the immeasurable ordeals of the Rohingyas to the international communities through his photographic works.
During his visits to the camps, he was familiarized with an intellectual named Dr. Tasleem Shakur, also a faculty of a UK University. Dr. Shakur felt that in western countries there is still a very poor awareness about the ongoing Rohingya crisis. His idea of raising awareness made him to invite Fojit to come to the UK for a photo exhibition in coordination with the Edge Hill University. The event titled “Who Are the New Boat People” premiered in the Edge Hill University campus for several weeks in June 2018. The exhibition held panel discussions, performances and documentary screening about Rohingyas. It is laudable that the event has been able to primarily achieve its purpose as the exhibition drawn ample public attention including coverage from renowned UK and international media.
Recalling his moments about the exhibition, Fojit described, “The exhibiting photos tell the story of Rohingyas fleeing from the genocide of Myanmar. In many photos you will experience the plight of the Rohingya children who are wandering as their parents have been killed, distressed elderly members are being carried upon by ‘lift’ made of bamboo and net, women who conceal their faces under the veil as they have been mercilessly raped by Myanmar forces. In short, they are a community without guardians. Though there are severe human rights violation occurred in Myanmar, the international community has done a little to help the persecuted Rohingyas. Through my photographic works, I strongly protest against atrocities committed by the brutal Myanmar armed forces to the Rohingyas. I urge the world leaders, please come to a permanent solution on Rohingya issue by putting pressure on Myanmar government.”
Fojit is grateful for the support he got from the Edge Hill University and Dr. Shakur. He also praised Abul Hossain- who filmed a short documentary about the plight of the Rohingyas, which was also exhibited in the event as well.