Ransoms and Reunions: The Internet Huts of Burma

The Rohingya have suffered years of persecution in Burma. Rohingya Muslims are denied full citizenship, their movements restricted, their prospects grim. In a makeshift Internet hut in a crowded internal displacement camp set up for the Rohingya in western Burma, the Reuters photographer Minzayar captured a series of intimate and heartbreaking portraits of families, their faces lit by laptop screens as they contact loved ones and relatives who have left the country for Thailand and Malaysia, escaping the violence that led to 200 deaths and left over 140,000 homeless in 2012. The video chats are personal, often wrenching, discussions held in a very public space in the camp. Aside from reunions and catching up, many of the conversations are with human traffickers who demand thousands of dollars to free family members. The Rohingya merchant Kyaw Thein, who runs the Internet hut, also assists in wiring cash between loved ones and funneling money to the traffickers. The captions below describe the conversations taking place, captured in the portraits above.

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