If you are in Yogyakarta then head along to the Jogja Gallery for the photography exhibition Exiled to Nowhere on the Rohingyas.
The Jakarta Globe has an informative Q&A with the photographer, Greg Constantine.
Further information on the Rohingyas:
- The Rohingya are a persecuted Muslim minority community in Myanmar. They had their citizenship cancelled by the Burmese state in 1982.
- There are significant numbers of Rohingya asylum seekers fleeing Myanmar and reaching Thailand, Malaysia & Indonesia.
- "This violence in the Burmese heartland follows on from, and is clearly inspired by, the massacres of Rohingya Muslims around Sittwe, the capital of the western state of Rakhine, that happened last year. About 180 were killed and over 100,000 Rohingyas made homeless in two bouts of ethnic cleansing. Those Rohingyas now live in squalid refugee camps, under curfew and prevented from travelling into Sittwe, let alone to anywhere else in Myanmar. Cut off from their sources of income and livelihoods, many attempt each day to flee to neighbouring countries in rickety fishing boats. Some make it, but others drown. Still more fall victim to traffickers."
- "In the two years following the June 2012 outbreak of inter-communal violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state, some 87,000 people – mostly Rohingya but also Bangladeshis – embarked on the dangerous journey in search of safety and stability."
"In Indonesia, 60 Rohingya approached UNHCR in Indonesia between January and June – a drop of almost 90 per cent compared to the same period last year. By the end of June 2014, there were 951 Rohingya registered with UNHCR, mainly people who arrived in previous years from Malaysia. In the first half of the year, nine boats travelling towards Australia with more than 400 people were intercepted under the government's Operation Sovereign Borders. Seven were returned to Indonesia. One boat with 41 passengers was returned to Sri Lanka. The 157 people on board another boat that left from India were transferred to Nauru, pending a decision by the Australian High Court on how to process them.
All these developments take place in the context of a very challenging protection environment for refugees in the region. States, including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, are not signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and lack formal legal frameworks for dealing with refugees. Without a legal status they are often at risk of arrest, detention, and deportation under immigration laws. It also makes legal employment impossible and drives many people, including women and children, into exploitative and vulnerable situations."
- Their plight has largely been ignored by main stream media, due in part to the unpopularity of a 'persecuted muslim' narrative & played down by Aung San Suun Yi for political purposes in deference to the Buddhist majority as Myanmar opens up to trade and investment opportunities.