[ 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 3 submissions. All images must be taken in 2020 or 2021. Stories on COVID-19 should not be entered in this category.

Judges for Issue Reporting Picture Story
Ikuru Kuwajima
Tanvi Mishra
Sanjit Das
Maika Elan
Oded Wagenstein
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First Place

TikTok in Kham

Xiangyu Long
Independent
China

A seven-second video on Tiktok transforms Ding Zhen, a simple Tibetan yak herder, into an Internet star overnight. The overnight sensation not only changed Ding Zhen’s life, but also had profound impact on his hometown. Dingzhen’s sudden success inspired local youth to utilize social medias to become influencers. Through social media, the outer world get to know this remote village. Meanwhile, the interactive nature of social media also makes the village absorb new trend of the world and change the traditional thinking and customs of the past. Many new folk customs such as celebrating birthdays and throwing parties have been adapted. Through webcasting, either of spectacles such as birthday parties or of mundane nomadic daily life, locals obtain both attention and monetary gifts on social media platforms. The direct connection to their followers made it possible for locals to sell their local produce to consumers without middleman. Meanwhile in the offline world, stream of visitors to the village has prompted new business for local: locals working as guides when tours of the villages attractions are booked; Locals transforming their living space to host visitors. In the past, the villagers’ communication was generally limited to friends and relatives in the village or neighboring villages, but now through the social media, locals can communicate with people from different regions and nationalities. This form of communication allows locals’ social life to break through the previous fixed geographical restrictions and realize cross-regional communication and information exchange. Among the predominantly female fans, some leave their big-city lives to visit their idol in the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Garzê in southwest China’s Sichuan. A few live with local families for months, learning Tibetan and helping out around the house, in order to immerse themselves as deeply as possible in their idea of the romantic, wild life of the local ethnic minority.

Finalist

The Garden’s Crossroads

Pang Hai
Independent
China

Lu Daosen died. He is 26 years old and is an internet celebrity freelance photographer. I am also a photographer, but I am still alive and walking on the road. Why did Lu Dawson died? Before his death, he published his will online, which stated that he was a left-behind child in the rural areas. He was bullied as a student and became a dream chaser living alone in the city when he grew up. And he has no love or money in the big city, his dreams are squeezed out by reality, and there is no future. His story is not an individual case. With the rapid population growth and rapid economic development in the past 40 years, resources have become relatively concentrated, classes have gradually solidified, and wealth has become a measure of success. Social changes have made interpersonal relationships intricate, and trust has gradually diminished. Competition has been with us since we were born, and the belief in excellence is rooted in everyone’s heart. We have been in anxiety for a long time, worrying about being eliminated by the era of rapid development. The security system of average wealth has now disappeared. It is full of challenges for ordinary people to change their living standards. Coupled with a series of pressures such as emotional loneliness and traditional concepts, it makes it difficult for us to make choices at the crossroads of life. Eventually Lu Daosen stopped at the crossroads. In the city of stars, there is no light to light it up. Those dreams that have been poured day and night have become endless dust, no one will remember. It is a pity that you died and the news made me know you in this way. But why am I not someone like you? Every day I walk at the crossroads of the garden and see the endless stream of people. There are too many people and every face is blurred, the tired faces that I don’t want to see. Some people are still there at the Garden crossroads, but more people have disappeared from the big city like animals. Where did they go?

Finalist

Riders of Freedom

Artem Puchkov
Independent
Russia

A long train whistle blows in the distance and our freight train starts gradually speeding up. As soon as we leave the station, the guys saddle up the walls of the open wagon. I think about the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. If there were horsemen of Freedom, train hoppers would definitely be among them. Trainsurfing, train hopping, freight hopping – riding the outside of the train has a lot of names and a lot of different branches. Some people ride on suburban trains, some cling to inter-city trains and even high-speed ones, some are particularly interested in subway. Riders of Freedom is a project about freight train travelers. Through seven trips with them, I drove 3870 km, visited St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Vladimir, Bryansk, Orel, Pskov and even reached Murmansk.

Finalist

China’s crackdown on Hong Kong

Louise Delmotte
Independent
France/Hong Kong

The past year has changed Hong Kong forever, leaving many residents grieving. Since China imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong in June 2020, the mainland government has tightened its grip on the city, purging any elements deemed “unpatriotic” at a breathtaking speed. The legislation criminalises subversion, secessionism, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. Within a few months, the electoral system was overhauled and key democracy activists arrested. Independent media outlets have shut down. Civil society groups have disbanded or gone silent. Several songs, books and films became illegal. History is being re-written and freedom continues to die. Some fear the city’s unique identity has been permanently lost.

Finalist

Deportation

Anastasia Shubina
Independent
Russia

In 1943, the Soviet leadership forced the Karachays to leave their lands in the North Caucasus and move to Central Asia. Officially, they were deported for collaborating with German occupiers, and opposing the Soviet regime, but these charges were later dropped. During the night, the Soviets cordoned off villages and ordered people to leave their homes under threat of execution. Food was only permitted for a few days. Thus, the Karachays spent several weeks on the road, suffering from hunger and disease in overcrowded cattle cars. In Central Asia the people were divided and resettled in several regions of the Kazakh and Kirghiz SSRs. Living conditions were extremely difficult. They lived in dugouts and used the belongings brought from the Caucasus. In the first few years of exile, the population decreased by a quarter. Only 13 years later in 1956 the Karachais were rehabilitated and returned to their homeland. Khurzuk, Uchkulan and Kart-Dzhurt auls used to be the cultural and economic center of Karachay, but after the deportation they fell into desolation. Now, only three thousand people live there, many of whom are old people who survived deportation or were born in Central Asia. Despite being deported for a long time, they retain their culture and language. Log houses hundreds of years old are still standing in the auls, despite the fact that during deportation they were burned, dismantled for firewood, and turned into barns and outbuildings. Many of the houses are now dilapidated, but people lived in them until recently. The Karachays were also plundered, but they kept the antiques, taking them into exile with them and then bringing them back to the Caucasus. The Russian government recognized the deportation of the Karachays as genocide in 1991. While the deportation affected all families and is painful to all, the Karachays are convinced that their story is unjustly forgotten and strive to tell it.
Sometimes their words tumble out like the frantic beating of wings. The tears often flow, but now and then, an eye flashes with a glint of determination. Two months after the Taliban takeover of their country, Afghan women and girls inhabit a world transformed. The freedoms and expectations many have come to prize are vanishing as the militant group’s return to power after two decades has stirred profound sorrow over losses that may prove irredeemable. A generation of Afghan girls grew up having never known the lash of Taliban rule. The fundamentalist movement was toppled in the U.S.-led invasion launched in answer to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, ending the group’s five-year reign. But their black-and-white flags again fly over the capital. Their fighters patrol the markets; their preachers thunder in the mosques. Young women largely barred from school or jobs describe the nightmarish sensation of their mothers’ tales suddenly unfolding in real life. What was once said aloud is now whispered or not spoken at all. And for those of an age to have firsthand recollections of the Taliban’s cruelty, any moment of any day can feel like an old wound, opened anew. Taliban leaders in Kabul and other cities have sought to soften their image — one previously marked by stonings, amputations and public executions — suggesting their new restrictive measures are temporary. They place vague parameters around certain behavior, saying women can participate fully in society, but within the framework of their interpretation of Islamic law. In a stark symbol of the new order, the Afghan Women’s Affairs Ministry was abolished and replaced by one tasked with promulgating virtue and preventing vice — in essence, the former religious police. Some 124,000 Afghans, including tens of thousands of women and girls, fled the country in the massive airlift staged in the final days of American power. But millions remain behind, and defiance comes at a cost.

Award of Excellence

Myanmar’s Uprising

Ta Mwe
Sacca Photo
Myanmar

On 1st February 2021 Myanmar’s military carried out a coup which deposed the democratically elected government and shattered a decade of political and social development overnight. Over the course of the first week of the new dictatorship protests began to grow, from small acts of defiance to a nationwide uprising which protestors began referring to as the ‘Spring Revolution’. In order to suppress the growing protest movement the military soon turned to the use of deadly force and mass detention. In the first two months hundreds of peaceful protestors were murdered, thousands were imprisoned and virtually every town and city in the country was subjected to a brutal campaign of terror by state security forces. Ta Mwe’s images chart the first month of protests in Yangon, as small signs of resistance grew to become mass demonstrations of public opposition to military rule, before deteriorating into pitched battles and siege-like conditions on the streets of Myanmar’s largest city.

Award of Excellence

Self-Immolation among the Kurdish Women

Shaghayegh Moradiannejad
Independent
Iran/Canada

According to the reports of Iraq Union of Women in Kurdistan and the activists of Iraq in the field of women rights, the highest rank of self-immolation in the world is attributed to the Kurdish women of Iraq (the statistics can be classified city by city and the whole region) and the annual statistics increases too. In Syria, presently it is not possible to obtain an accurate report of women self-immolation in the Rojava region due to current wars and its negative effects. In Turkey, women self-immolation is known as a political action and the current government of Turkey does not announce any statistics in this regard. In Iran, there is no statistics about this phenomenon due to religious and political reasons by the government but there can be found numerous theses and local investigations by the university students majoring in sociology and psychology. But what can be more significant than the official and governmental statistics is the countless self-immolation that occurs among the Kurdish women. The main reasons for their self-immolation can be poverty, family violence, forced marriage, and mental and emotional issues. The women who can show their objections only by hurting their own bodies. This photo collection narrates the story of Kurdish women in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. The Kurdish women whose choice was “Fire”. The main concept of this story is “LOSS”. A tangible vacancy that exists but everyone tries to hide it. A deep scar on the body of the society that should be treated. This loss can be summarized in photos and mementos for the families of the victims. The limited victims who could survive death will carry the story of this loss on their skin forever.

Award of Excellence

Land of Continuous Conflict

Majid Saeedi
Independent
Iran

Afghanistan has been at war for most of the last 50 years. Invasion, occupation, insurgency, civil war, invasion, occupation, insurgency are daily routines. What lies ahead for the people of Afghanistan after Western forces withdraw this year? The new government of the Taliban Islamic Emirate has pushed back democracy and destroyed all 20 years of activity. At the same time, civilian casualties and attacks have decreased, but the newly formed ISIS has emerged. They are doing what the Taliban have done for the past twenty years: violence, war, attacks, and explosions. With the withdrawal of Western forces this year, the future seems to be disappointing and ambiguous. According to a report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affair (OCHA) Afghanistan ranks near the bottom on many humanitarian measures. Thirty-four percent of the population is food insecure. Ten percent of children die before they start primary school. Thirty-eight percent of children do not have access to school. Around 5.4 million civilians in conflict-affected areas have limited access to food, safe drinking water, health care, and other basic services. More than 600,000 people are internally displaced. Almost 1.5 Million people are heroin addicts. Women and girls are especially at risk in Afghanistan. The Taliban have targeted women activists, educators, and any woman working outside the home. They have focused attacks on schools for girls. The literacy rate among women in Afghanistan is 12%. Despite the violence, poverty, drug addiction and lack of education life goes on in Afghanistan. I have engaged on photography of the life of Afghan people for over 10 years. I am a witness of how they tried to build their country and obtained the primitive freedom and democracy; which was destroyed in couple of months.