Four photographs were stolen over the weekend from a photography exhibit called “The Rohingya: On the Edge of Existence,” which opened Oct. 9 at UC Berkeley School of Law’s Human Rights Center.
Alexey Berlind, the Human Rights Center’s programs administrator, said that on Monday morning, employees from the Human Rights Center noticed that four of the photographs — two smaller portraits and two larger images from three different walls — were missing.
The photographer, Chris Beale, said he has followed the most recent Rohingya crisis, taking three trips to Myanmar’s Rakhine State and three trips to the southeast border areas of Bangladesh.
“I started (taking these photographs) in 2011, and at the time, there was really no visual representation of the Rohingya inside Burma, and there was a real lack of information on them in general,” Beale said.
Berlind said he reported the missing photographs to UCPD on Monday night. According to Berlind, however, there is no security camera footage from that part of the law school. There are no leads so far.
Beale installed replacement prints of the four missing photographs Tuesday.
Beale said he was interested in the fact that the Rohingya are a “stateless” people. The Burmese Citizenship Law of 1982, in which the government defined the indigenous ethnic groups of Myanmar, left out the Rohingya, who were excluded from citizenship, according to Beale.
“Why does it take more than 700 thousand people forced into Bangladesh in a three month period to get the attention of the entire world?” Beale said. “This has been going on for 40 years. … Some of the people who came as refugees last year, this was their third or fourth time.”
One of the stolen portraits is of Almas Khatun, a woman from the Myanmar village Tula Toli, who witnessed the murder of all seven of her children, her husband and other relatives by the state military before being hit in the face by a machete, Beale said.
Another was of 70-year-old Jolar Ahmed, who according to Beale, was shot by the military in the shoulder and now lives in Naikhongchari, the most remote refugee camp in Bangladesh with several thousand people.
The third photo, Beale said, shows a few hundred recent refugees in a standoff with Bangladesh border guards at a food distribution point without enough food in the Balukali refugee camp. The last stolen image is of refugee Mohamed Solim riding into a camp and looking at the mass of people.
“(The exhibit) really shows both the violence that has been perpetrated against the people but also the resilience of the people there, not only in Myanmar, but also in Bangladesh in the refugee camps,” said Andrea Lampros, the associate director of the Human Rights Center.