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  • Writer's pictureAhtaram Shin

25th August: The legacy of Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day

Updated: Apr 29

2019. © Abul Kalam

View of the gathering that took place on August 25, 2019 to commemorate Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day. This annual event honours and mourns the victims of the genocide against the Rohingya people, the ethnic minority group that has faced widespread persecution and violence in Myanmar for decades. The event was led by Mohib Ullah, an outspoken Rohingya leader and a brave and fierce advocate for the human rights of Rohingya Muslims around the world. Sadly he was assassinated by gunmen on 21 September 2021.

Watch the video below to hear Abul Kalam discuss his photograph capturing the 2019 gathering led by Mohib Ullah.

Abul Kalam was born in 1985 in Burgaozbil, Sittwee. He came to Bangladesh in 1996 at the age of 12 escaping discrimination and torture by the Myanmar military. He now lives in the Kutupalong Rohingya Registered Camp with his wife and 3 children. He has been working as a professional photographer for over a decade documenting the Rohingya people in Bangladesh bringing attention to their plight and ongoing struggle for recognition and rights.

His photographic journey started in 2008 when he became a field assistant to Saiful Huq Omi, a renowned Bangladeshi photographer. In late December 2019, Abul Kalam was arrested (see article in The Guardian) whilst taking photographs of refugees leaving in buses to Bhasan Char island. A worldwide campaign was launched to call for his release with prominent personalities supporting the campaign including artist Ai Weiwei and renowned Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam. He was finally released after a few weeks.

His work has been exhibited at the 19th Oxford Human Rights Festival, the Museum of Trust & Dialogue for the Mediterranean in Lampedusa and numerous other venues. His work has been widely published including by in AFP, Reuters, The Daily Star, Dhaka Tribune and others.

Abul’s work is marked by a keen eye for detail and a deep emotional connection to his subjects and depicting their joys, sorrows, and struggles with powerful intimacy and sensitivity. He has a talent for capturing the subtleties of human emotion, as well as the stark realities of life in the refugee camp.

‘I want to use my photography to show the world the tragic history and suffering of my people.’ —he explains.

Through his work, Abul shines a light on the broader human condition of the Rohingya people. He highlights the ongoing discrimination and violence they face, and brings attention to the urgent need for action to address these issues. His photography is not only a powerful artistic medium, but it is also a tool for social change, and a means of raising awareness about the plight of the Rohingya people. He is an inspiration to a whole new generation of Rohingya photographers interested in using photography to fulfil their own dreams.


This feature is part of The Rohingya Experience, an exhibition set in St Helier, Island of Jersey during July 2024, developed by Rohingyatographer, a collective of Rohingya refugee photographers in partnership with Jersey Overseas Aid.



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