Monday, May 08, 2023

Kurdistan- Iraq: "Life After Genocide II" Kurdistan Iraq- 7 years later.

 Continuing on the work on the topic “Life After Genocide”, journalist and researcher Vicken Cheterian and myself decided to go back and revisit Iraq. Our work started 7 years ago when visiting minorities and tried to understand a little better how living through war and genocide affected the population while ISIS created horror on their lives. We focused our work on the Yazidi population as well as Christian communities from Iraq and the nearby region. 

"On that day, in the early hours of August 3, 2014, ISIS fighters armed with heavy weapons after they conquered Mosul two months earlier, coming from Ba’aj attacked the Yazidi villages of Girzarek and Siba Sheikh Khidir. Peshmerga forces received orders from Erbil and withdrew. They did not evacuate the Yazidi civilian population, leaving them defenceless, at the mercy of ISIS. Local Yazidi resistance armed with light weapons collapsed after four hours; they did not have enough ammunition, nor heavy arms to resists against jihadi armored vehicles. In a few hours ISIS entered the town of Sinjar. The local population in panic escaped to the mountain. ISIS captured those who could not escape: men were forced to convert to Islam; those who refused were killed on the spot. More than 35 mass graves have been found this far. ISIS revived open sex slave markets, a tradition that had disappeared from the region since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Over 5240 women and girls were captured and sold as slaves." Vicken Cheterian  July 2016.

This page will be updated over the next several weeks with short stories on people we met. 

Yazidi Children and their families are still, 9 years after ISIS invaded them on April 3rd 2014, living
in temporary, random camps in the region around Sinjar. As they are not allowed to make solid constructions, they live mostly in tents made of plastic.

Many of the Yazidi children living in random camps have never known anything but the temporary
 location they are staying at.

Despite the ban on making permeant buildings, the Yazidi community has established shops and
basic services like this barber shop.

Football seems to have a uniting effect on everyone, everywhere, also amongst the young Yazidi
kids playing near the city of Dahok.

The Yazidi culture is very conservative, the the holiest place for them is the temple in Lalish where all Yazidi should at least once visit. 

Lalish is the holiest place for the Yazidi people. During the month of April, families will make visits to
Lalish, spend time, have picnic, as well as contribute with keeping the place well maintained
and welcoming.

Lalish is the holiest place for the Yazidi people. It is located in the northern part of Iraq and dates
back some 4000 years. All Yazidi are expected to at least once make a six day pilgrimage to to
visit the tomb of Şêx Adî located in a cave within the Lalish temple.

Lalish is the holiest place for the Yazidi people and the location dates back some 4000 years. 
All Yazidi are expected to at least once make a six day pilgrimage to 
to visit the tomb of 
Şêx Adî located in a cave within the 
Lalish temple where, according to the Yazidi, the 
first human was born. 

Yazidi families dress up in traditional clothing and spend time together while also visiting the
holy locations within the Yazidi temple in Lalish.

Roan is originally from Syria but is currently staying in a building right by the marked in the old 
town of Erbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The owner of the building is letting Assyrian Christians 
stay on a modest rent. Roan stays with her father, Bady, and aunt as well as their dog, Bella. 

Tourists are visiting the The Erbil Citadel, locally called Qelat is the historical city centre of Erbil in
the Kurdistan region of Iraq. In the background is the building being let to around 90 displaced
Christian, Assyrian, families mostly from Iraq and Syria right by the old marked.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

"People on the Move" at the FIFDH

 "People on the Move" is on display during the Humanitarian Film Festival and Forum in Geneva (FIFDH) between March 4th- 13th. Vernissage is at Webster University where there will be a round table presentation with Dina Ionesco and myself as well as Pauline Deutsch from the FIFDH. Please follow the link for registration to this free event which takes place on Monday February 28th at 16:30 - an aperitif will be served!

Migrants passing through the 'Balkan route' meets struggles to pass through the boarder from Bosnia and into Croatia and the EU with increasingly violent methods used to keep the boarder closed.  

This event has been part sponsored by Webster University Media and International Relations Department. 

#webstergeneva #websterhumanitarianassociation #websteru #fifdh22 #ReportageSpotlight 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Ratko Mladić- Final verdict. Potocari Memorial.

The final verdict on the sentence already given to Ratko Mladić was delivered in Haag yesterday. He is serving life in prison. Thankfully, this is still the case today- he lost his appeal. The women and other survivors of his gruesome actions committed in Srebrenica during one week in July 1995 were gathered in Potocari at what is today the memorial centre and cemetery, back then, it was the UN headquarters. The court had no reason to change anything- the evidence is clear.-much evidence was even recorded by Mladic himself, documented at the time and easy to access. A sense of relief could be felt- the 'Butcher of Bosnia', responsible for genocide, and other war crimes, will spend the rest of his life in prison.  

Emir Suljagić, director of the Potocari Memorial Center talks with teh media.

Nura Mustafic listening to the live coverage of the final verdict of Mladic.

Mafija Hadžibulić listening to the live cover of the final verdict of Ratko Mladić.

Women who survived the genocide in Srebrenica follows the live covarage of the final verdict of Mladic.

A woman pray for the victims of the genocide in Srebrenica.

Women who survived the genocide in Srebrenica follws the live covarage of the final verdict of Mladic.

Women who survived the genocide in Srebrenica follws the live covarage of the final verdict of Mladic.

The women of Srebrenica displays relief of the fact that Mladic sentence remains the same- Life in prison for genocide. To the left is Nedzad Avdic, genocide survivor, talking to the media immediatly after the verdict.

Women who survived the genocide in Srebrenica shares their thoughts on the final verdict of Mladic.

Women who survived the genocide in Srebrenica responds to the final verdict of Mladic.

#bosnia #srebrenica #genocide #humanrights #photojournalism #documentary #potocari #july11  #reportage  #lifeaftergenocide #postwar #neveragain  #nikonpro

Monday, March 15, 2021

A wedding.

I remember, while going through old work, some images that was just left behind. In 2012, staying at Tuzla hotel, preparing to cover the Mars Mira, or the peace march between Srebrenica and Tuzla, a wedding took place. It seems strhange when you were loaded with the story of what happend in Srenbrenica at that time, 16 years before. Still, it is a reminder that life must go on. Today, the big news is that 'Quo Vadis, Aida?' is officialy nominated for the Oscars- Congrats! #bosnia #srebrenica #genocide #storytelling #marsmira #humanrights #photojournalism #documentary #potocari #nikonpro #nikonswitzerland #lifeaftergenocide

Friday, November 13, 2020

Migration: Stuck in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bihac is struggling to manage the refugee/ migrant situation as the boarders to Croatia is strictly closed. Many refugees from Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and the middle east as well as north Africa are stranded in the region and is struggling to cope with a difficult life in this northern town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the poorest countries in Europe. Many gets injured while attempting to do 'The Game'.. the term used describing attempting to cross the boarder into the EU (Croatia). The stories often goes like this: The Croatioan police beat us, the strip us, burn our things and steal our phones and money.  Most comes back to Bosnia with injuries, often serious injuries.

Winter is coming, temperatures are now bellow freezing at night. Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina takes place next week and we are in the middle of a pandemic. Life is not easy while attempting to reach Europe at the moment. More to come. 

A refugee, who preferred not to be named, takes care of his wound from attempting to do 'The Game'  the day before. He was lucky only to get some fairly minor injuries.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Montenegro free of Cluster Bombs.

 Congratulation to the Norwegian People’s Aid for the work done in helping Montenegro become free of Cluster Bombs! 

And, I enjoyed working with them documenting their efforts. 

"10 August 2020 marked an important date in Montenegrin history. 10 years to the day after the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force, Montenegro could proudly declare itself free of these deadly weapons”.

For better quality video, check out my Vimeo page.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

World Humanitarian Day, 19th August 2020- Caritas Switzerland

During the Covid 19 pandemic, I have collaborated with #CaritasCH in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They, right away, started a project to hand out food and hygiene vouchers to the the most vulnerable. I believe it shows great vision and initiative in order to pull this off as fast as they did. 

Bellow are random impressions from various municipalities as well as people. The work is always in collaboration with the officials and often connects with local partners who knows the people locally. It is a good example of what is possible with good collaboration. 

More to come.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Što Te Nema? Where have you been?

Aida Sehovic's created the traveling participatory instillation art piece based on coffee cups. She uses masses of traditional coffee cups from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The title is the give away, each coffee cup represents someone who was killed during the Genocide in Srebrenica. This year, representing 25 years since the genocide took place, the installation was set up at the Potocari Memorial Center where the commemoration takes place. Volunteers helps during the preparation and during the day long set up. Survivors comes and people are invited to sponsor by contributing with coffee cups. Such a moving tribute to the horrific events of July 1995. 

A family finds comfort while contributing to the memory of those killed during the Srebrenica genocide.

Aida Sehovic preparing at the Potocari Memorial Center.

Boxes of coffee and cups at the Potocari Memorial Center.

The first few cups is placed. Approximately 8000 more cups were used for this years installation.

Aida Sehovic at the Potocari Memorial Center with volunteers respecting Covid 19 measures.

A full team is preparing the coffee.

A constant flow of people comes to commemorate as well as contribute to the work.

Preparing coffee while the temperature is reaching 40C

A constant flow of people comes to commemorate as well as contribute to the work.

A constant flow of people comes to commemorate as well as contribute to the work.

The Potocari Memorial cemetery can be seen in the background. 

The mascot of this years project may very well end up being this dog.

#bosnia #srebrenica #genocide #storytelling #marsmira #humanrights #photojournalism #documentary #potocari #july11 #nikonswitzerland #reportage  #lifeaftergenocide #aftermath #neveragain #nikonpro #StoTeNema #StoTeNema2020 #Srebrenica25