Myanmar bars American photographer from own show on Rohingya plight

November 17, 2016 8:20 pm

A file photo of American photographer Greg Constantine

has barred an American documentary photographer from entering the country and attending his own photo exhibition, which is aimed to shed light on the plight of the persecuted Rohingya Muslims.
Greg Constantine, who was to visit Yangon to attend his “Nowhere People” exhibition, said he had been stopped at the airport on Friday and told he was on a “blacklist.”
“I’ve done a significant amount of work on stateless people in Rakhine [state]…I can only speculate that that would be the reason,” Constantine told media.
Myanmar’s immigration department confirmed that the US photographer had been blacklisted, but refused to explain why.
“I cannot tell you what kind of blacklist he is on,” said Ye Tun Oo, the director of the immigration department.
Constantine’s exhibition on stateless people, which has been postponed, was to include images of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims residing in destitute camps, where many have been denied their basic needs and the right to free movement.
The minority Rohingya community is mainly based in northern Rakhine.
The Muslims have been subject to all kinds of atrocities and persecution in Myanmar since the outbreak of communal violence fueled by Buddhist extremists in 2012.
The government denies full citizenship to the 1.1 million-strong Rohingya population, branding them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Rakhine has been under a military lockdown since early October, when an alleged attack on Myanmarese border guards left nine officers dead. The government accused the Rohingya of being behind the assault.
Since then, government forces have left dozens of Rohingya Muslims dead during what they call search operations for the alleged attackers.
On Wednesday, the London-based Arakan Rohingya National Organization said at least 150 Muslims had been killed since Saturday during the new wave of government crackdown on the troubled region.
The government has also restricted media access to the area, leading many to believe Myanmar’s forces are acting with impunity.
A leading English-language daily, Myanmar Times, has also banned writing on Rakhine. It recently fired an editor for publishing reports of gang rape by the military in the state.
Myanmar’s troops have also torched hundreds of Rohingya homes over the past days.
“Reports of homes and mosques being burnt down and persons of a certain profile being rounded up and shot are alarming and unacceptable,” said UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard.
The United Nations has described the Rohingya as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
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