Minzayar Oo
Recipient of Martin Adler Prize 2017

Minzayar Oo

Freelance photographer

At just 29 years old, Minzayar 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. He 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. 

Minzayar 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 rivalling.  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'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 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’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 is represented by Panos Pictures and was the first photographer to receive the Martin Adler Prize.

Images: © Minzayar Oo/Panos Pictures 

About the Martin Adler Prize

The Martin Adler Prize honours a local freelancer who has made a significant contribution to newsgathering. The aim of the prize is to highlight the dedication and talent of freelancers who work under challenging and difficult circumstances within their own country, and who go largely un-recognised by the international news media. The freelancer can be involved in any area of newsgathering, for example, as a fixer, translator, driver, journalist, cameraperson, filmmaker or photographer. This is a non-competitive prize, given at the discretion of the Rory Peck Trust. It is sponsored by Hexagon.

About Martin Adler

Martin Adler, an award-winning freelance journalist, photographer and filmmaker, was murdered in Somalia in 2006. Committed to covering the people, places and events that he felt nobody else cared about, Martin shed light on some of the world’s most dangerous and abusive situations. In memory of Martin and his work, the Trust inaugurated this special prize in 2007.