Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
Over the past 30 years, several waves of Rohingya have fled oppression in Burma and have settled in southern Bangladesh. Unwanted and unwelcome in Bangladesh, they are denied refugee status and most humanitarian assistance. They are also vulnerable to exploitation and violence. These Rohingya men left Burma years ago when Burmese authorities arbitrarily seized their land. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
Facing growing intolerance in Bangladesh, undocumented Rohingya gather together for protection and create makeshift refugee camps. In 2008 undocumented Rohingya began to create a new makeshift camp just south of Cox's Bazar. The Kutupalong Makeshift Camp first started out as a dozen families. Now it has swelled to over 20,000 people. Aid workers say conditions in the camp are some of the worst they have ever seen. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
Most Rohingya live in huts made of leaves, twigs and scraps of plastic. Two men repair the shabby roof of their family's hut. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
Rohingya in the makeshift camp receive no food aid and little or no humanitarian assistance. Without access to medical care or other sources of humanitarian assistance, residents of the makeshift camp are vulnerable to any number of treatable diseases. The young and the elderly, like 60-year-old Amina, are especially vulnerable. Amina has typhoid, has no family, and has not been able to receive any kind of medical assistance. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
It is estimated that up to 30% of the camp's population are children under the age of ten. There are no schools in the makeshift camp so the children do not receive an education. Most children end up working to help their families survive. This young boy walks through the makeshift camp selling pieces of wood cut from a forest hours away. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
Rohingya living in southern Bangladesh are not permitted to work legally and do not have the protection of laws. Yet any number of industries crucial to the economy of southern Bangladesh relies on the Rohingya as cheap and often exploited laborers. The coastal area of Naziratek just outside Cox's Bazar is one of the largest fish drying centers in all of Bangladesh. Hundreds of Rohingya workers (mostly women) provide the majority of labor, earning about $1.50 USD for 10-12 hours of work per day. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
The fishing industry is one of the largest and most important industries in southern Bangladesh. Thousands of workers on fishing boats in the region are undocumented Rohingya. Fish markets like the main fish market in Cox's Bazar rely on Rohingya to do much of the dirty and hard labor. These two Rohingya men carry loads of fresh fish to be weighed before they are sold. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
The Teknaf and Shapuridip areas of the region are filled with thousands of acres of fields that produce sea salt. While the fields are owned by local Bangladeshi businesses, Rohingya are responsible for most of the backbreaking work. Rohingya men in Shapuridip haul bags of fresh salt and load them onto trucks before the salt is processed and sold. The men are paid between $2 and $3 per day. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
The rickshaw is the most popular mode of transportation for people living in most towns in southern Bangladesh. Yet, in most of towns, like Teknaf, Court Bazar, and Ukhiya Cox's Bazar, the majority of rickshaw pullers are undocumented Rohingya. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
In Burma Rohingya are denied the ability to travel to find work. Many Rohingya become destitute and leave Burma to earn money. As the situation in southern Bangladesh becomes tenser, Rohingya in both countries pay brokers to smuggle them by boat from Bangladesh to Malaysia. Several thousand Rohingya have made the perilous journey in the last year, but recently Bangladesh authorities have stepped up their efforts to apprehend the Rohingya before their journey begins. BDR troops caught this boat in the middle of the night just outside of the town of Teknaf on February 17, 2012. The boat was ferrying a group of Rohingya to a larger boat waiting out in the sea. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
BDR troops apprehended 11 Rohingya men the morning of Feb. 19, 2012, and detained them at the main BDR camp in Teknaf. The men had crossed into Bangladesh from Burma earlier that morning. The group had come to Bangladesh to board a boat bound for Malaysia. BDR would push the entire groups back into Burma that same evening. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
In late 2009/early 2010 local authorities, police, BDR, and local anti-Rohingya groups carried out a massive crackdown on the Rohingya community in southern Bangladesh. Thousands of Rohingya were arrested, put in jail, and forcibly pushed back to Burma. The crackdown sent a wave of fear throughout the Rohingya community. Groups like the Anti-Rohingya Committee in Teknaf see the Rohingya as a threat to Bangladesh interests and national identity and want to see all Rohingya in the area pushed back to Burma. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
"We are trying to tell the government and the international community that the Rohingya have to be repatriated. They all have to leave this country. The Rohingya here say that they have been humiliated in Myanmar. Now we are humiliated because of the Rohingya and they threaten our independence...The Rohingya have spread all over this area. It is like a cancer here," says Hamidul Huq Choudhury, chairman of the Rohingya Repatriation Movement in the town of Ukhiya. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
Now that arrests of Rohingya at checkpoints between Teknaf and Cox's Bazar have restarted, many Rohingya are reminded of the crackdown in 2010. During the 2010 crackdown, police and a group of locals stormed the house where Salim and several other Rohingya men were working and sleeping in the Bandarban area. Two days later, they were forcibly pushed back to Burma by BDR troops. Eventually he returned to Bangladesh. "I am now scared that I will be caught again. BDR are catching people again, so I don't want to leave the camp," he says. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
The main highway between the southern town of Teknaf and the city of Cox's Bazar now has four BDR check posts along it where every bus, car, and micro bus is checked. Almost every day, groups of undocumented Rohingya are pulled off buses and detained. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
A group of 12 Rohingya men (mostly between the ages of 19 and 28) were pulled off a bus at a BDR highway check post the morning of Feb. 19, 2012. The men had crossed into Bangladesh from Burma earlier that morning. They came to Bangladesh to board a boat that would take them to Malaysia. Bangladesh authorities would push the entire group back to Burma the same night. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
Exhausted from their journey out of Burma, a group of 20 Rohingya is detained by BDR as soon as their boat had crossed the Naaf River from Burma and landed in the Shapuridip area of southern Bangladesh. Fifteen of the people in the group are women and children. Several of the children are sick. BDR would push the entire group back to Burma the same night. Many in the group would return to Bangladesh the next day. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.
Many Rohingya say that until the situation for the Rohingya living in North Rakhine state in Burma changes, and even if they are granted citizenship and other basic rights, a steady flow of Rohingya will continue to leave Burma for Bangladesh and third countries in the region. Yet, in Bangladesh, life continues to grow more difficult. A group of Rohingya men haven't worked in over a week because they fear being arrested if they leave their homes. Image by Greg Constantine. Bangladesh, 2012.

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority from the North Rakhine State in western Burma. Over the past forty years, the Burmese government has systematically stripped over 1 million Rohingya of their citizenship. Recognized as one of the most oppressed ethnic groups in the world, the Rohingya are granted few social, economic and civil rights. They are subjected to forced labor, arbitrary land seizure, religious persecution, extortion, the freedom to travel, and the right to marry. Because of the abuse they endure in Burma, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Burma to seek sanctuary in neighboring Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, most are not recognized as refugees and are considered illegal economic migrants. Unwanted and unwelcome, they receive little or no humanitarian assistance and are vulnerable to exploitation and harassment. In recent years, the Rohingya have paid brokers to smuggle them by boat from Bangladesh to Malaysia and beyond, sparking the attention of governments throughout the region. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has confirmed that the statelessness of the Rohingya is not just a Burma-related problem, but a problem with larger regional implications.

Project

From the slums of Nairobi to the sugar plantations of the Dominican Republic to the far reaches of Bangladesh, entire communities live without citizenship rights. They are “the stateless”.

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