Myanmar freelance photographer Minzayar Oo will attend the Rory Peck Awards in London on October 23 to receive the Martin Adler Prize 2017, sponsored by Hexagon, which honours a local freelancer who has made a significant contribution to newsgathering, according to a press release.
At just 29 years old, Minzayar Oo is one of Myanmar’s leading photographers - part of a new generation of local freelance journalists documenting the political, social and economic transition of their country, reports the Rory Peck Trust on October 20.
Minzayar Oo is unique among his peers for the dedication he has shown in telling Myanmar’s important and difficult stories, notably his long-term commitment to covering the plight of the Rohingya - a story now top of the international news agenda.
Journalists Minzayar Oo and Htun Lat were arrested in September by the Bangladesh authorities in Cox’s Bazar as they were reporting the flood of refugees from Rakhine State. They were allowed to return to Myanmar on October 17.
According to the press release, Minzayar Oo has been visiting Myanmar’s refugee camps since 2012, winning the trust of the Rohingya and photographing them with an intimacy that nobody else has come close to rivaling. His Reunions and Ransoms story for Reuters, shot inside the internet huts in the Thae Chaung village refugee camp, shows Rohingya families connecting over Skype on dusty laptops, with relatives and loved ones who have left for Thailand and Malaysia. It also reveals their vulnerability at the hands of human traffickers who exploit their precarious situation as members of one of the largest group of stateless people in the world.
His long-term documentary project, The Price of Jade, exposes, for the first time, the horrific social impact of Myanmar’s secretive, multi-billion dollar Jade industry in conflict-torn Kachin state and reveals the perilous lives of hundreds of thousands of young people who have migrated there to work as miners, hoping to find a shortcut to wealth.
Minzayar Oo's first international breakthrough came in 2012 when his image of Aung San Suu Kyi appeared on the front page of the International Herald Tribune on the day after the country's historic by-elections that saw her elected to parliament.
“It’s difficult for a local photographer to cover stories like these within Myanmar and bring them out to the wider world,” said Sarah Ward Lilley, Chair of the Rory Peck Trust whose Trustees selected Minzayar Oo for the Prize. “We wanted to recognise that achievement and to celebrate Minzayar’s talent. He is still only 29 and already he has produced such an impressive body of work.”
Minzayar Oo’s work has been published in TIME, The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, National Geographic, GEO, 6MOIS, La Republica and many other publications and has been exhibited in Myanmar and around the world, including photography festivals Rencontres d’Arles and Angkor Photo Festival.
Minzayar Oo is represented by Panos Pictures and is the first photographer to receive the Martin Adler Prize.