M. D. Shahnewaz Khan
BANGLADESH
The son of a freedom fighter, MD Shahnewaz Khan is a documentary photographer and the founder and director of VOHH Photography Institute, VOHH FOUNDATION and VOHH FOTO FEST based in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Even though he dreamt of becoming a writer in his youth, photography became his muse and mode of expression. In his words: “I always want to know about people, their life, their culture and their fight to survive. I believe photography is such a great option for telling the truth to change the world.” He has won over 50 International awards including Ian Parry Scholarship, Alexia student Grant, Andrei Stenin Press Award (Twice), Ashahi Shimbun Gold Medal (Twice), BPS GRAND, Photoshare Award (Twice), AlMayadeen TV award.
Rohingya Refugee Crisis
An estimated 650,000 Rohingya refugees (UNICEF estimates almost 60% are children) have fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh to escape killings, arson, sexual violence, and other atrocities. Most walked 3-6 days, barefoot, over mountains and across rivers, arriving exhausted, sick, and hungry. Human rights investigators said that Myanmar’s military killed more than 1,000 civilians in the state of Rakhine, and possibly as many as 5,000, though it will be hard to ever know because the UN or others are not allowed into the impacted areas. United Nations OHCHR said that according to Human Rights Watch, since August 25, 2017, Burmese security forces have been carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims, that government troops had targeted “houses, fields, food-stocks, crops, livestock and even trees,” making it “almost impossible” for the Rohingya to return home. This is the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis. The Myanmar government does not even use the word Rohingya or recognize them as a distinct group, preferring to call them “Bengalis.” Much of the violence was flamboyantly brutal, intimate, and personal — the kind unleashed by a long, bitter history of ethnic hatred. Even some influential Buddhist monks said the Rohingya were the reincarnation of snakes and insects and should be exterminated, like vermin. New reports claim the Myanmar military has begun laying landmines along the border and that soldiers are shooting unarmed civilians even as they try to flee. Rohingya Muslims demand full-fledged Myanmar citizenship and recognition as Rohingya. Recently Doctors Without Borders/MSF reported that 6,700 Rohingya were killed by Myanmar security forces in one month following a government-led crackdown in the country’s Rakhine state in late August. Minara Begum entered Bangladesh from Myanmar after walking for 4 days and paying a boatman 5000 BDT ($63) in exchange for crossing the river. Her parents died in 2012 at the hands of the Myanmar army and, in September 2017, the Myanmar army killed her husband’s parents. Her husband’s sister was slaughtered after being raped and her husband’s brother was shot dead. They have yet to receive any relief in Tengkhali refugee camp in Ukhia. She built a house with plastic. She has three daughters and her sister in law has two. The children urgently need protection, food, water and sanitation and health services. Many Rohingya mothers are giving birth to children in the refugee camps. Children suffered greatly in this crisis, losing their childhood and education, and lacking a safe and nurturing environment.

The Addis Foto Fest (AFF) was established in 2010 by award-winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur, Aida Muluneh. The festival is organized by Desta for Africa Creative Consulting PLC. AFF is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has previously featured exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections and film screenings in many different renowned venues. It is also the first and only international photography festival in East Africa.