Have you ever imagined being a stateless person who lost a country?
This sort of thinking is a kind of thought from one person to another.
But our weakness is that we are not able to think about another person.
A worse weakness is that we are not able to think about another creature.
The worst weakness is that we don’t even think of ‘If I were a part of a stateless society.’
Buddhist monk Ashin Khantisara posted this heartfelt message on Facebook after visiting the Nowhere People exhibit at the Myanmar Deitta gallery in Yangon this week. He was joined by a group of monks from a local religious university.
Myanmar Deitta hosted Nowhere People – a photography exhibit that explores the lives of stateless people around the world – from November 13 to 27.
The 10-year project by photographer Greg Constantine includes images and stories of stateless people in 18 countries, including members of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya community, who are collectively denied citizenship and whose communities in northern Rakhine State have been under a brutal military crackdown since October 9.
According to the gallery’s website, Nowhere People aims to reveal the human face of statelessness as well as the lengths stateless people will go to survive and find a place in society. Nowhere People provides tangible documentation and proof of a global issue that has been ignored for far too long.
Presumably because of his work with the Rohingya community, Constantine was denied entry into Myanmar after he landed at the Yangon International Airport on November 11 after being told by immigration officials that he was on a blacklist.
Part of Nowhere People will be exhibited at the UK House of Commons under the title “Exiled to Nowhere: Burma’s Rohingya” from November 28 to December 2.
When asked how the exhibit had affected him, Ashin Khantisara told Coconuts Yangon: “To be honest, it made me amazed and feel the suffering of these people. And I thought if I were these people, what would I do? Such thought surely gave rise to sympathy for them in my heart.”
Facebook is the preferred medium for propagating hate speech by other Buddhist nationalist monks in Myanmar. This monk’s message is a welcome departure from that dangerous trend.