Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Nowhere People' Profiles Stateless Peoples and Their Little-Known Plight

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Nowhere People' Profiles Stateless Peoples and Their Little-Known Plight

Article excerpt

In his new book Nowhere People, photographer Greg Constantine introduces us to some of the poorest, most repressed, and least known people in the world.

Constantine first began to focus on these stateless people 14 years ago, in 2002 when he was taking pictures of North Korean refugees seeking asylum in Southeast Asia. What began as a one-year project in 2005 turned into a 10-year "global exploration," as the photographer describes it.

His hefty 373-page book features black-and-white photos from 12 of the countries where he has worked over the years - Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia, Myanmar, Kuwait, Iraq, Serbia, Italy, Ukraine, Kenya, the Ivory Coast, and the Dominican Republic.

I have visited seven of these countries, either as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor or because my curiosity took me there. But I must admit that I was oblivious in every case but one to the plight of the stateless people living and working in these countries.

Constantine introduces us first to the Biharis, a Muslim minority that sided with the Pakistani Army during the India-Pakistan War of 1971. Since I covered that war for The Monitor, I was familiar with the Biharis and even spent an uneasy night with a number of them following an Indian Army ambush of a Pakistani platoon that I was with.

At the end of the war, with serious consequences for them, the Biharis were viewed by the new government of Bangladesh as collaborators of the Pakistanis. Since 1971, as Constantine explains in a brief text, more than 200,000 Baharis have been living in crumbling camps scattered throughout Bangladesh. The youths in these camps work odd jobs as day laborers or weavers. They aren't recognized as citizens of Bangladesh and are denied basic rights.

But what immediately strikes you is that they show no bitterness. Many still hope for a future in which they can get identification cards, an education, and better jobs. …

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