Abdullah Khin Maung Thein
Photographer and Videographer
Abdullah was born in 1998 to stateless parents. As a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority, the Rohingya are not recognized as an official ethnic group and have been denied citizenship since 1982. 'For Rohingya living in Myanmar, having a smartphone is restricted by authorities. I still remember the moment I bought my first Android phone, a Symphony, in 2012. Rice paddies, mountains, streams, animals, bridges, and flowers were my subjects.' –Abdullah says. Abdullah had to flee Myanmar in 2017 and he now lives in Kutupalong refugee camp, one of the world’s largest refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, where he works with the Rollywood Rohingya Film Team making videos and taking photos about life in the camp. 'In the camp, we neither have livelihood nor education for children. As a refugee myself, I chose this platform to share our suffering with the world. I am also trying to promote youth who have talents and an interest in art such as videography, photography, music, drawing and poetry by collecting their stories.' –Abdullah explains.
He enjoys his journey as a freelance photographer documenting the life of refugees in the camp. 'Every person has a personal experience worth documenting and I feel that it is my duty as a photographer to bring those stories to the outside world'.' —he said. Since his arrival, he has produced several photo-essays on different topics. In 2019, his photographs were published by the Asia Times and in August 2020 he received third prize in the photo series category from the Rohingya Photo Competition. His photographs have been exhibited at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre in Ottawa and the Oxford Human Rights Festival. In November 2022 he was invited to collect an Award in Geneva at a ceremony organised by OCHA and UNHCR celebrating Minority Artists Working on Statelessness Themes. In January 2023, he was invited to present his work at the the Dhaka Lit Fest.