Since 2009, Bangladeshi photographer Saiful Huq Omi has been documenting the lives of the Muslim ethnic minority, generally known as the Rohingyas, who live in northern Rakhine State, western Burma. Considered to be one of the most persecuted communities in the world the Rohingyas face every kinds of human rights violation-denial of citizenship, restriction of movement or travel, restriction on education, forced labor, land confiscation, forced eviction, destruction of homes, schools, mosques, religious persecution, ethnic discrimination, restrictions on marriage of Rohingyas, abuse of Rohingya women and elders, rape as a weapon of war, depopulation of Rohingya community, confiscation of residency/citizenship card. To many what is happening to this community in Burma is nothing but a slow burning genocide.
Saiful Huq Omi (1980) first studied telecoms engineering before taking up photography in 2005. His photos have appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Time and Asian Photography, among others. His work has been exhibited in galleries from Zimbabwe and Russia to Japan and Bangladesh. Saiful has received a number of awards, including the All Roads National Geographic Award, and an emerging photographers grant from the Open Society Institute. He was a participant in the 2010 World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass. His Rohingya project gained him a grant from the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund. Saiful is represented by Polaris Images, and published his first photo book, Heroes Never Die – Tales of Political Violence in Bangladesh, in 2006. In 2012 he set up an international photography school, named Counter Foto, in Bangladesh and India.