[ ISSUE REPORTING PICTURE STORY ] A long-term project on a single topic. It could focus on science, news, politics or any number of topics, ranging from coverage of a single person to an entire community. The project must convey a deep understanding of the subject. Each submission consists of 10 to 40 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 5 submissions. The images must be taken in 2019 or 2020. Stories on COVID-19 can be entered in this category but if you have already entered something in the COVID PICTURE STORY category, you should avoid submitting the same story to this category.
Afghanistan has recorded the world’s most prolonged armed conflict in the last 150 years. Two generations have been born into war and have lived during war without being able to imagine a peaceful future. The only thing most Afghans remember is seeing their towns and country, as a whole, being passed around among different groups and belligerent countries. They see that the endless cycle of war has only led to bloodshed and bloodied soil on graves. This forty-year conflict has brought cold-blooded massacre, ruins, and unprecedented emigration. For those who have chosen emigration, illegal passage across borders is the quickest, and yet the most dangerous way, to reach their destination. This story is only a glimpse of the sorrowful journey – with little chance for survival and success – that these travelers embark on. Passing the border of Iran and Afghanistan is very difficult due the rigorous border control. The journey begins at Shahr-e-Naw located in the southern part of Afghanistan. The whole journey from Shahr-e-Naw to Tehran is managed by a few key smugglers. Each one of them has organized a group of drivers as well as workers to clear the roads and attend to rest stops. These workers and drivers are well versed in the local terrain and are paid a set amount of money per individual they smuggle across Terror, hunger, humiliation, and beatings inflicted by the smugglers or officers are common on this twenty-day journey. Many Afghan immigrants experience this journey multiple times. They work in Iran for a few years and return to Afghanistan for a few weeks to see their wives and children. This project has attempted to give a voice to those who have been lost and left behind in the middle of the clamoring conflicts between the politicians, countries, and international organizations. It aims to ask what makes a human being choose dying on the road over staying at home.
From 1996-2006 Nepal was in the grips of an Armed Revolution that pitted the government forces with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists). A stronghold of the communists, Rolpa and its neighbouring district Rukum was the epicenter of the war. Those ten years witnessed some of the most brutal crackdowns by State forces in these districts. And the harder the state pushed, the more successful the Maoist-led People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its affiliated organizations were in recruiting people. For many, the decision to join either side was triggered by a sense of revenge. Nim Bahadur Pun, for instance, joined the police because the Maoists had murdered his father. While Ganesh Khadka took up as a soldier in the PLA because he wanted to avenge his father’s death at the hands of the police. This cycle of revenge was very common during the war. After ten years, around 17,000 deaths, more than 1,350 disappearances, thousands disabled and millions displaced, the war finally ended in 2006. The Maoists entered mainstream politics and two years later, with the ousting of the centuries-old monarchy, Nepal became a Federal Republic. The communist party has been in power four times since then and the country has gone through some historic political changes. For this project, I met people who fought on both sides, heard stories of atrocities committed on either end. But what does all this mean today when those sides have come together? The people who bore the brunt of war are forced to look on as the historic treaty that promised justice and reconciliation for all violations of human rights committed during the conflict has been reduced to just another paper dream. And many who fought on the frontlines and believed in the beautiful image of a just, egalitarian society that the party leaders painted for them have given up. Comrade Lal, once a loyal party member, today repents: “If the war that was so close to being won can be demolished like this, what use is a revolution?”
The Land of Soul looks at the life in the mountain mining villages of the Tkuarchal region of Abkhazia, once thriving, but never fully recovered after the siege during the 1992-1993 Georgian-Abkhaz war. This is an exploration of the post-war trauma, a search for the traces of war imprinted in people’s bodies and in the façades of the surviving buildings. The images of the semi-deserted places become a metaphor for the country itself: Abkhazia—The Land of Soul—still remains a ghost state on the world map. Its autonomy is recognized by a handful of countries, including Russia, on which Abkhazia is economically and politically dependent. The trauma of war, the search for identity during the post-Soviet era, the complex relations between nature and urban spaces—all this continues to define its current context. Longing for a lost past and an uncertain future is correlated here with the painstaking work to maintain a space for life among the ruins. The traces of war permeate it and the subtropical forest seeks to completely absorb it, but as long as people for various reasons have not left their homes, it will be something more than just a spot on the map, frozen in tension of the conflict which is stopped but not resolved.
Tuberculosis, a disease known to be 100 times more prevalent in detention facilities than in the community. TB, a preventable and treatable disease, still ranks as one of the most prevalent and deadly diseases among developing nations. Even before the onset of the Coronavirus that caused a global pandemic, tuberculosis has already been a contagion that has been a major concern for prisons. With cramped living conditions, poor ventilation and infrastructures, deficient health, hygiene and sanitation conditions favour the spread of infectious diseases poor ventilation and infrastructures, deficient health, hygiene and sanitation conditions that favour the spread of infectious diseases, prison is the worst place to be in. The Philippines currently has the world’s most overcrowded prison system, with an occupancy level of 463.6 percent as of 2019. And the Philippines is also among the top 40 countries with a very high mortality rate among TB patients. A single inmate that has not been properly screened can infect sound 10 to 20 more inmates, their families, and prison guards.
2019 marked a turning point in Hong Kong’s history. A proposal for an amendment of an extradition law by the Hong Kong government sparked a series of mass demonstrations. The effects of the pro-democracy movement, the anti-Beijing sentiment and the increased social engagement may change the cities political future. The many demonstrations led to violent clashes between protesters and police, thousands of arrests, broken families, a damaged image of the police force and what seems to be a irreconcilable generational conflict. Besides, the governments’ inapt reaction resulted in a loss of the credibility of the city’s political elite, indicating that the social unrest may continue for some time. These pictures were taken during some of the main protests, clashes, rallies and assemblies – promoted by the opposing camps – between June and December 2019.