I had the good fortune to work with internationally renowned documentary filmmaker and photographer Raam Sadullah on his ambitious project on the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar (also known as Burma). We traveled to Myanmar several times to follow the Rohingya and were able to capture the beauty of their faith, culture and struggles. This project was such a joy to work on and, looking back, I’m so grateful for the opportunity.
The Rohingya Are An Important Portfolio Piece For Documentary Filmmakers
For many documentary film producers, the Rohingya are a vital source of stories. They are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world and have been systematically oppressed for many years. This is an issue that is close to my heart because, although I was born in England, I grew up in Lahore, in the Pakistani capital where many of the Rohingya live. It was a great honor to be a part of the Rohingya diaspora and to document their stories. This minority group has been notably absent from the small screen, so getting the opportunity to tell their story was incredibly significant.
How to Approach Diaspora Groups
Diaspora communities are a source of incredible strength and resilience that continue to inspire the marginalized groups they left behind. It is an honor to work with such notable individuals who have benefited from the British education system and now help further their adopted country’s understanding of global affairs. The fact that so many of the Rohingya in Pakistan consider themselves to be British citizens is testament to the amazing contribution that this country has made to their lives.
Raam’s Commitment to Fairness And Accuracy
It is a given that all good documentary filmmakers strive to be accurate and fair in their work. There are often occasions where we are unable to verify the facts exactly, but we do our best to depict them accurately. With the Rohingya, this was certainly the case. We filmed many incredible stories, which often happened in the most unverified of circumstances. Even now, when the situation for the Rohingya has dramatically improved since we first filmed them, many of the facts and figures remain uncertain. Even now, many Rohingya are not allowed to work and are prevented from accessing much-needed health care by the government, which has been heavily criticized for its treatment of the minority group. Nevertheless, we feel that our documentation of their story is valuable, especially in these early stages when the number of verified incidents still seems low.
Working With The UN And NGO’s
The United Nations and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) are crucial players in the quest to end human rights abuses against the Rohingya. They provide safe spaces for the community to share their experiences, bring attention to the situation and lobby for change. Several of these NGOs have offices in London, so it was wonderful to be able to work with them on a project that has had such a significant impact on his life and the lives of many others. This was particularly the case with the Amnesty International UK Office, where I met many highly skilled and dedicated individuals who were doing everything they could to ensure that the Myanmar authorities complied with their legal obligations and granted the Rohingya their human rights. We were very grateful for their support.
Working With Local Shopkeepers
Another vital player in the quest to end human rights abuses in Myanmar are the local shopkeepers. In many of the towns and cities that we visited, local traders’ associations and business leaders worked hand in hand with the NGOs and the British government to ensure that the Rohingya were treated with fairness and respect. Many of the local shopkeepers were themselves Rohingya and they wanted to see their community treated with dignity and humanity. They had a huge impact on the people that they supported and the lives of the Rohingya were definitely improved as a result of these partnerships.
The Impact That This One Project Has Had
This one project has had an incredible impact on my professional life. Not only did it open up new markets for my photography, but it also gave me the confidence to approach new clients and to build new relationships. Since the project, I have secured a number of significant commissions and I now shoot for leading advertising agencies and publications around the world. It was an honor to have been selected for such a prestigious project and I feel very fortunate to have gotten to know the extraordinary community of people that the Rohingya represent.