Burma’s Rohingya Muslims have been described as the world’s forgotten people. Stripped of citizenship by the former military junta in 1982, many thousands have been stuck in limbo along the Bangladeshi border in northwestern Burma for decades.
Last year two bouts of vicious communal clashes thrust an international spotlight on their plight. Over 200 people were killed and some 140,000 people, mostly Muslims, were ripped from their homes. Displaced Rohingyas, who are considered illegal Bengali immigrants in Burma, are now isolated in dreary camps and ghettoes, with limited access to food, sanitation or healthcare. Buddhist nationalists and extremist groups have been blamed for stirring up hate-speech against the group, while local police and security forces have been accused of participating in the violence, described by human rights groups as a “systematic” campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Journalists Matt Rains and Alia Mehboob travelled to Arakan state in August 2012 to document the lives of Rohingya Muslims in the wake of last year’s violence.