Meet the Team
Sahat Zia Hero
Founder, Editor & Photographer
Sahat is a documentary photographer, writer and human rights activist and consultant. He is the founder of Rohingyatographer Magazine. Sahat was born in 1994 in Maungdaw Township, Arakan, Myanmar. In 2012, he was studying Physics at Sittwe University but due to the systematic discrimination against the Rohingya, he was excluded from attending his second year in university. In August 2017, he was forced to flee with his family to Bangladesh where he currently lives in the refugee camps. After his arrival, he worked as a team leader for the Danish Refugee Council. He currently divides his time between freelance photography work for various NGOs and international media outlets, managing the magazine project and working at the Rohingya Cultural Memory Centre.
His photographs have been published by The Guardian, NBC, Aljazeera, Visual Rebellion Myanmar, The Territorial News, UNHCR, Danish Refugee Council, Norwegian Refugee Council and Amnesty International. He is a regular contributing photographer to the Rohingya Photo Competition. His photographs have been exhibited at the Oxford Human Rights Festival in 2021, the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka, the Cox’s Bazar Cultural Centre and the Head On Photo Festival in Sydney in 2022.
Sahat has written work published in Forced Migration Review, Lacuna Magazine and Migrant Voice. He also writes poetry in Burmese, Rohingya and English. In 2020, his poems were published in Rohingya Dreams, an anthology of Rohingya poets published by the Danish Refugee Council with support from the European Union.
In March 2021, he fell victim to the devastating fires that left 50,000 Rohingya homeless in the refugee camp. “My family managed to escape and when the fire was over, I returned to find nothing but ashes where my home used to be. Nothing. My laptop and pen drives where gone. It was the second time I lost everything since I fled my home in Myanmar back in 2017. Nevertheless, I was able to document the unfolding of the fire event with the camera on my phone.” From this experience, he published his first photobook titled Rohingyatography in 2021. The same year he was nominated for the UNICEF Photographer of the Year Award.
Abdullah Khin Maung Thein
Abdullah is a 26-year-old former school teacher from Maungdaw, Rakhine State in Myanmar. He always had a passion for photography: “I still remember when I bought my first smartphone in 2012. I used to capture landscapes with paddy fields, mountains, streams, animals, bridges, and flowers.”—he said. Forced to flee his home, he arrived in Bangladesh in early September 2017 and started working with the Rollywood Rohingya film team making videos re-enacting Rohingya life.
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.
Photographer & Poet
Shahida was born in Irrawaddy, Myanmar. Her father although married and living in Irrawaddy, was deported in 1996 by the Burmese government to Chin Khali village—his birth village in southern Maungdaw. Her mother and nine siblings stayed in Irrawaddy until 2000, when they were allowed to move with their father. “It was the sweetest and happiest time in my life.”—she says. “I attended primary and high school with many kind and helpful teachers in a nearby village. From them, I learned education but also many other things useful for our lives.” After graduation she started working as a doctor’s interpreter with MSF. During her free time and holidays, she followed her passion for journalism and started to document issues in her community. In August 2017, she was forced to flee with her family to Bangladesh where she settled in the refugee camp and started to work as a volunteer for MSF and other NGO’s.
Her interest in writing led her to write poems and advocate for gender equality in the Rohingya community. “I spoke to many women and girls who were discriminated, so I decided to write a poem about the suffering of girls.”—she explained. Her first poem, Thami Maha (Daughter the Great) was published on The Art Garden Rohingya in 2019. Many people liked the poem and encouraged her to write more, so she continued to write poetry about the sufferings of the Rohingya people. In 2020, she was chosen by UNHCR as a youth leader and travelled to the UN headquarters in Geneva to speak on behalf of the Rohingya community. She currently works writing about Rohingya traditions, culture and history at the Rohingya Cultural Memory Centre in the refugee camp.
Photographer & Poet
Azimul is 18 years old and used to live in a little village named Bolibazar in Maungdaw Township in Myanmar. Since the exodus in 2017, he lives in the refugee camps. He is a photographer, poet and a former media fellow with Fortify Rights and the Doha Debates—a project recipient of the Shorty Award and Anthem Award. He was selected for the Oxfam’s Rohingya Arts Campaign and his photographic work has been featured in Amnesty International Thailand and @EverydayAsia. He is the co-author of A Chance To Breathe, a photobook published by Fortify Rights and PhotoEvidence.
“Since childhood I wanted to become a photographer. My dream came through when I became a media fellow with Fortify Rights and the Doha Debates. With my camera-phone, I capture the reality of my community on a daily basis. Through my photos, the world can see our situation in the refugee camps. Writing poetry is also one of my passions. It allows me to enter a world where I find no injustice or discrimination. In my free time I write poems about the life of the Rohingya community. My wish is to become a famous Rohingya poet. My poems have been published on The Art Garden Rohingya, an online platform for young Rohingya poets.”—Azimul explained.
Hujjat is the eldest of 10 siblings. He completed his secondary high school in 2015 and travelled to Bangladesh to complete his Bachelor Degree in Pharmacy at the International Islamic University in Chittagong. “Every person has different interests and hobbies. Mine is to be a qualified healthcare professional pharmacist.”—he said. His hobbies are reading, public speaking and helping people unconditionally. He enjoys listening to the stories and experiences of elderly people: “I believe that there are many interesting things happening around us, which most people do not notice, but as a photographer I can frame them.”—Hujjat explains.
Md Jamal’s parents fled to Bangladesh in 1992 along with 250,000 Rohingya. He was born a refugee in 1995 in the Kutupalong camp. He started taking pictures and using social media in his early 20’s. One day, an international journalist reached out and paid him for the rights to use one of his photographs for an article; with the money he bought a second-hand camera-phone and from that moment, his photographic career began.
In October 2016, he started to document the first Rohingya arriving in Bangladesh fleeing the crisis in Rakhine. By August 2017, when the main Rohingya exodus took place, he was already freelancing for various international media outlets such The Guardian, Reuters, Paris Match, Al Jazeera, BBC News Bangla, Tempo English, CNN and others. In 2020, one of his photographs became the front cover for the exhibition organised by the Oxford Human Rights Festival: ‘Next Generation - Young Rohingya Refugees’. “My driving force is to ask people everywhere: Why do we face such persecution? Why has the world allowed such injustice against us?”—explained Md Jamal.
Ro Yassin Abdumonaf
Ro Yassin Abdumonab worked as a schoolteacher in his native village in Myanmar teaching English, physics and chemistry. He left his university studies when forced to flee to Bangladesh looking for safety in August 2017. “My journey to Bangladesh was horrible, escaping from burning and killing, we sought refuge in paddy fields and forests and had to eat wild weeds to survive. The river crossing was like an ocean to me. I almost drown. It took me and my family many days walking in barefoot to reach the river in the border with Bangladesh. It was an unforgettable nightmare.”—he explains.
Ro Yassin Abdumonab now works as a freelance photographer, videographer, translator, fixer and writer for different news agencies and NGO’s such as The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Reuters, France 24, Washington Post, ABC News, New York Times, The Business Standard, The Diplomat, The Telegraph, The Globe and Mail, Norwegian Refugee Council, The Daily Star, Hindu Times, The New Humanitarian, Fiji Times, Voices without Borders, Amnesty International, International Affairs, US News, Vice, PBS, DW, Canada Today, Die Ziet, Go Humanity, Literary Hub, Nanummuhwa, Green Left, The Asia Foundation, UNHCR, Haaretz, BBC, Refugees International, Arakan Express and many others.
Beyond documenting the daily lives of Rohingya refugees, he enjoys writing poetry. He writes about humanity, the struggle for peace and people’s life journeys. He is a busy individual, father and philanthropist juggling his free time teaching children at home. He encourages people to live a happy life even if the circumstances are not ideal. “I deal with my emotions doing these things”—he says. He uses photography to provide a collective voice for the Rohingya people. “It is my hope that my photography can provide meaning to the Rohingya demand of justice and peace. I will be content if my work can help raise our collective voice.”—he says.
Photographer & Visual Artist
Enayat Khan was born in 1999 in Nwa Yong Thong village in Arakan. He completed school until grade ten and started drawing inspired by his uncle. “If I want to explain anything, the best language I can use is art.”—he says. His artistic career began when in class nine he drew a portrait of his teacher. Not only did his teacher buy the painting, but he also received an award from his school for his artistic skills. His favourite colour is white and his favorite artist is Leonardo da Vinci. His favourite words are ‘try’ and ‘nothing is impossible.’
Together with his family, he was forced to flee Myanmar in August 2017. His family now lives in the southern refugee camp near Teknaf. He currently works part-time at the Rohingya Cultural Centre. He is married and the proud father of a baby girl.
Md Iddris is 20 years old. He was born in Toung Bazar village, in Buthidaung but became stateless in August 2017 when his family was forcibly displaced to Bangladesh. He completed his high school in the refugee camp and worked with Relief International as a child protection volunteer between 2018 and 2021. He has a passion for painting and photography and likes to use these creative skills to portray Rohingya’s survival and daily life in the refugee camp. “I believe photography can have a positive impact for change, especially showing refugee life through my artwork.” —he says.
Omal was born in 2003 in southern Maungdaw in Rakhine State, Myanmar. In 1996, her father was deported from Yangon for being Rohingya and sent to the village where he was born. As a result, her family was separated until 2012, when her mother and siblings were allowed to join her father permanently. She attended primary and secondary school in her village and joined the Alay Than Kyaw High School. Omal wanted to study medicine but could not complete her studies because her village was set on fire and she had to flee with her family to Bangladesh in August 2017.
In the refugee camp, she gave up her dream to become a doctor and started to work with BRAC and the Red Cross to support her family. She did an online photography course and regained a childhood passion. She became a media fellow with Fortify Rights and the Doha Debates and regularly shares her images of the Rohingya community on social media, highlighting daily life in the refugee camp. She is the co-author of A Chance To Breathe, a photobook published by Fortify Rights and PhotoEvidence.
Ro Anamul Hasan
Photographer & Poet
Ro Anamul Hasan was born in 1997 in northern Maungdaw, Arakan, Myanmar. He graduated secondary school with high marks in 2014 and was about to study physics at university, but unfortunately he was discriminated and not allowed to join university. His family has suffered much discrimination: "My grandfather was murdered and five of his uncles were sentenced to 73 years in prison no reason and although they are innocent, they face a lifetime in prison where they are tortured daily. Sadly they cannot find justice. I was driven out of the Myanmar like a nest is flung by a storm. How rough this persecution has been on me? It's really beyond imagination. For me, poetry and photography are like raising voices from my obscure life. I wish the world to know my pain through my poetry and to see my sufferings through my photography.” —said Anamul.
His poems have been featured in I am a Rohingya, Rohingya Dreams, Poetry For Humanity, Oxfam, Frontier Myanmar and in some other anthologies. In 2020, he won the first prize in a poetry competition organised by the Danish Refugee Council. In 2021, he won a photography competition organised by a group of Japanese journalists. In 2022, he won a prize from 'Write your Story' by the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Designer, Curator & Mentor
David (Barcelona, 1972) is a visual artist working in the fields of design, documentary photography and filmmaking, research, curation and production of creative and cultural projects in humanitarian and development contexts. Driven by a curious nature for exploration, his work is a constant enquiry about the human condition. Some of his artwork, publications and documentary films have been exhibited worldwide, receiving international recognition and awards.
In 2019, he was appointed by IOM—the UN Migration agency—as the curator of the Rohingya Cultural Memory Centre, leading the development and implementation of the project from its inception. This experience had a profound effect on David, leading to life-long connections with many talented Rohingya photographers and artists. Through these links, the ideas and seeds for the Rohingyatographer Magazine were sown.
For more information on David’s work, please visit his website.