City of dead

As a photographer, space/places interest me a lot. I love to photograph place, live there day after day and explore the relation between the place and the people, who live there. “The City of the Dead”, explored over and over again for its natural beauty and how people live in the cemetery. “The City of the Dead” is the cemetery below the Mokattam Hills in southeastern Cairo, Egypt.

It is a place, dense grid of tomb and mausoleum structures, where some people live and work amongst the dead. Other than those favorite tourist spots in Egypt, ‘City of Dead’ is the place, which tells different story of life & death. Photograph in color, I will portray the living condition of the people, there relation with the cemetery & the urbanization pressure on the city. It is visually possible to represent the juxtaposition of class struggle & the place’s colorful existence.

Life in The Geneva Camp of Dhaka

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

Geneva Camp’ is just 1 of the 70 camps all over Bangladesh set up immediately after the Liberation War of 1971. In 1971, the Bihary were a torn community. The tragedy of that community unfolds as far back as 1946 — the year communal riots in Bihar tore irreparable divisions through India — with thousands of Muslims massacred in an organized program that added momentum to the movement for the partition of India. This resulted in a separate homeland for the region’s beleaguered Muslims. Between 1947 and 1952, families by the thousands left their ancestral lands to take refuge in the erstwhile East Pakistan.

During the Liberation war in Bangladesh in 1971, the Pakistan army, sensing this divide, recruited some Bihary to fight the rebellious Bengalis. Whether they supported the Pakistan army or not, many Bihary remained neutral in 1971, shy of taking sides with their local. After the war in 1971, the International Community for the Red Cross intervened and found out that most Biharys wanted to migrate to the truncated Pakistan. Over half a million registered “Urdu-speaking” Pakistanis found a voice at the high level Shimla pact of July 1972 and later an agreement was reached in 1973 between Pakistan, India and Bangladesh on this issue. As per the agreement, the Bengali prisoners were released and sent to Bangladesh. However, not all Urdu-speaking Pakistanis were repatriated to Pakistan. Even today, hundreds and thousands of people lives in Bangladesh in camps as non-citizens.

Here, the rituals of life, death, triumph, hope and misery of each family, packed into 8 x 8 feet of little boxes. There are only 270 toilets for a population of 25,000 and the numbers increase daily. The living environment of the camp is very deplorable. It is unhealthy, dirty, damp and unhygienic. This condition exists in other camps throughout the country. The municipalities/city cleaners never enter the camps to clear the garbage. The Bihary camps have almost no educational facilities. Throughout the country, only 300 of the 20,000 children in camps go to school. Only six of the 77 camps have a school. Most of the people make handicrafts or repair cars to make a living. Into the filthy rooms – homes and workshops rolled into one – women and men were busy working on brightly color saris. Assuming that about 60,000 from 1,600,000 are registered in the voting system in 2008, but in reality, those in the camp are denied the right of applying for a national ID card. Without citizenship, they cannot even obtain legal housing, so most live in 66 camps packed with people and livestock scattered across the country, including Geneva Camp.

Geneva Camp was built in 1974 by the Red Cross to help assist the new generation of stateless people. The older generation complains more than the younger ones, who are better integrated and bilingual. Free of the baggage, the younger generations are far more ready to become Bangladeshis: where almost 70% of the people want to stay in Bangladesh, 17% want to go back to Pakistan despite of recent progress in vote and ID registration.

“Geneva Camp turned out to be a bordered little inferno located next to fairly well-to-do neighborhoods and commercial areas. Human spirit, however, knows how to counter the forces of nature and history. Inside the camp, little Behari had been recreated with the memories and longings that the migrants are well known for.  Still the government does not know how to handle it. No one does. The government has not picked it up. Civil society has not picked it up. These people have been left to fend for themselves.”

My proposed project involves documenting life within Geneva Camp. I wish to explore the social issues from poverty, to the reality of living and growing up within a family, to the difficulties and opportunities posed by redevelopment of the area.

For the past one and a half year I have been working there watching them suffer and being ignored and neglected from their untold stories. I believe I am particularly suited and capable of undertaking this important photo-documentary project. I will be working in color and in digital format.

Being a documentary photographer I would like to represent their Life. Photography has the visual power to educate by allowing us to enter the lives and experiences of these socially neglected people. Through my photography I have tried to show their unseen emotion and pain.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.

The Geneva Camp in Dhaka is the largest Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh.