Minzayar was finishing medical school in 2011 when he participated to a masterclass of Christophe Loviny during the Yangon Photo Festival. His first work was about the maternity ward of the city’s public hospital. The following year, he was hired by Reuters after taking exceptional photos of Aung San Suu Kyi on the campaign trail and gradually became the leading documentary photographer in his country. Early this year, he won the first prize at the Yangon Photo Festival with a remarkable photo-essay about the Muslim boatpeople in the China Sea. Some wish to make some bucks to bring home in Bangladesh while others, called Rohingya, are hoping to escape the inter-communal violence and segregation in Myanmar. They heard that Malaysia is a paradise for workers, and a friendly Muslim country as well. So, they sold every possession and boarded an overcrowded boat but as soon as they got on board all their valuables were plundered by the human traffickers, even after paying a hefty sum for the trip.
Their misfortunes did not end here. After being disembarked to the forests of southern Thailand, the traffickers beat them and forced them to call their relatives at home to pay additional ransom for the final passage to Malaysia.
In a Myanmar internet café, with only the light of computer screens, Minzayar has documented these heartbreaking conversations. A crying mother who does not have the money to pay the ransom for her 12 year old son, for example. She knows that if she can't make the payment, the boy will be tortured or sold as slave on a fishing boats or a plantation. Poignant enough but what makes the work of Minzayar exceptional is that he also photographed the joy, for example a young woman who learns that her husband has finally reached Malaysia and found a job. As good photographers know, life covers all shades of grey.