Exhibition shows Burmese refugees' struggle

EDINBURGH, November 11, 2011: An exhibition featuring the work of award-winning Indian documentary photographer Bharat Choudhary is launching in Edinburgh on Saturday 12 November, highlighting the little-known human story of refugees living in New Delhi.

Searching for Home: Transforming Lives Among the Burmese Chin in Delhi runs through to 30 November 2011 at Café Camino (http://www.cafecamino.co.uk/Cafe.html), attached to St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral. The launch event is from 5-8pm on Saturday 12 November.

The exhibition is helping to publicise the important work of small Scottish charity Burma Assist, the organisers.

The Chin are one of the major ethnic groups from Burma (Myanmar) in Southeast Asia. For decades, they have suffered at the hands of the military regime there. As a predominantly Christian community, the Chin are especially vulnerable as a result of their minority status and many have been forced to seek refuge in other countries.

Some 60,000 Chin people live in extremely difficult conditions in India, existing on scarce resources and sharing the plight of the local poor, plus additional discrimination in housing, employment, education and healthcare.

"Rampant human rights abuses have forced thousands to leave their homes, families, friends and livelihoods in Burma in order to seek refuge in neighbouring lands like India," says photographer Bharat Choudhary. "But after travelling 2,400 kilometres to New Delhi to obtain protection from UNHCR a new struggle for survival and settlement awaits them."

Headed up by Chris Barr, Burma Assist funds a pioneering Chin community tailoring training centre in New Delhi, India, which is having a significant impact in improving the lives of poor women in particular.

"Two-and-a-half years after it was founded the Dorcas Centre is a well respected community project," explains Barr. "Over the six-month full time training it provides, Burmese women acquire more than just acquiring tailoring skills but also a transformation in confidence, self-esteem and economic capacity."

Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, commented: "We are delighted to support this exhibition. Debates about migration, refugees and human rights would benefit enormously from focusing on the real human stories of those forced to uproot and resettle. Bharat Choudhary's photographs are powerful testimony to the plight and dignity of the Chin people, while Burma Assist is helping to change lives in the most difficult of circumstances."


Notes to Editors:

1. The launch of Searching for Home runs from 5-8pm on Saturday 12 November at Cafe Camino, 1 Little King Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3JD. In addition to the photos, there will be a video presentation, a talk by Burma Assist CEO Chris Barr, live music, refreshments and a craft sale. More at: http://assistingburma.blogspot.com/

2. Burma Assist is a non-partisan Scottish charity supporting the Burmese Chin community in New Delhi. Its new website will be launched on 12 November: http://www.burma-assist.org/

3. Bharat Choudhary, whose work is being featured in the exhibition, is an acclaimed freelance documentary photographer from India. He was awarded the Ford Foundation International Fellowship to study at the University of Missouri, USA. His work has been recognized by College Photographer of the Year, Pictures of the Year International, Photocrati Fund, Joan Wakelin Award and Ian Parry Scholarship. Currently based in London, he is documenting the socio-emotional fabric of young Muslims by exploring issues of identity, religion and conflict. See: http://bharatchoudhary.com/

4. Founded in 2001, Ekklesia examines politics, values and beliefs in a changing world, from a Christian perspective. It has been listed by The Independent newspaper among 20 influential UK think-tanks. According to Alexa/Amazon, it has one of the most-visited religion and politics / current affairs websites in Britain. More: http://ekklesia.co.uk/content/about/about.shtml


Chris Barr
CEO, Burma Assist
chris AT burma-assist DOT com
07811 373325