Beirut Editor Mais Istanbuli

Media Manager

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City of Refuge
New Delhi, India
By Mais Istanbuli
31 Dec 2010

A journalist delved deep into the rich history and culture of refugees in New Delhi, tracing back to 1947, when India was divided. Today India’s sprawling capital is home to one of the largest concentration of urban refugees anywhere in South Asia, mostly from Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Tibet.

Explored in this project is not only the everyday lives of these refugees, each facing unique challenges from their home countries, but their journeys into India, their hope for the future and the city in which they have built that hope in.

The multimedia project is curated in four chapters:

  1. The Sanctuary: Text piece, video and interactive timeline to establish Delhi's history of refugee movements, drawn from interviews with historians as well as inputs from UNHCR.

  2. The Journey: Exploration of the exceptionally difficult journeys that individuals and families make to reach New Delhi - and to understand why they come here. Told in text, video and audio.

  3. Life in Refuge: For many refugees, this city has provided opportunities that their own countries couldn't, but is that all they desire? Told in text and video.

  4. Hope of the Future: Text and video stories from interviews that focus on the refugees’ sense of optimism (or despair) based on developments in each of their home countries.

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Orphan Education in Rural Uganda
Bombo, Uganda
By Mais Istanbuli
25 Jul 2012

With the support of a local charity, young orphans from the Conde Hill Orphanage are given the opportunity to attend the Young Cranes Primary School in Bombo, Uganda. The children lost their parents to HIV/AIDS and have no other adequate guardians to make sure they acquire the proper education they need in Uganda’s meager economy. Although Uganda is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to implement both a universal primary and secondary education through the elimination of school fees, Young Cranes Primary School faces poor conditions and lack of sufficient resources. Neighboring countries are also determined to provide the best education they can to those in need, yet their economic struggles and poor living standards often complicate the process. 
To Read More Information Go To: http://transterramedia.com/media/20196

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Mozambique Tea Estates
Gurue, Zambezia, Mozambique
By Mais Istanbuli
14 Jun 2013

Once called the the Switzerland of Mozambique, Gurué, in Zambezia Province, center of Mozambique stays forgotten for decades after the independence of Mozambique and three decades of civil war.

In colonial times, the disrict, founded in the 19th century and named Vila Junqueiro, was the biggest tea region in Mozambique, having a total of 5 factories processing tea leafs and exporting worldwide. Now only remains one factory working.

Due to the high level of the region (having the second highest mountain in Mozambique - Namuli Mountain with 2.419 m above sea level) and the wet climate, the settlers, one century ago, found this place with the proper conditions for tea plantations. The landscape was largely transformed to grow tea and tea tasters began building houses. Gurué is a model in colonial architecture with a well preserved number of traditional houses, churches, and other vestiges of Portuguese presence.

Now, the Lomwe people, continue to cultivate the tea, this time owned not by the old settlers but by Indian capitals. However the production is far from the 70´s values of last century. The independence made the old lords run away, back to Europe, everything was abandoned and three decades of civil war made four from the five factory close, get ruined and abandoned.

Meanwhile the intense green, the complete transformation of the landscape made by the vast tea plantations, the unique climate and it's isolation together with the individuality of the Mozambique region make Gurué a tourist destination.

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Documentaries
Worldwide
By Mais Istanbuli
25 Nov 2013

TRANSTERRA is becoming more than just a marketplace where producers can showcase and sell their documentaries. We are a resource for archive footage, and a community that provides collaboration opportunities.

The documentaries shown here are part of TRANSTERRA's greater catalog of options. Full-length screenings are available for most, and you can access these by sending an e-mail request to [email protected].

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Kurdish YPG Rebels in Syria
Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
15 Jul 2013

In northern Syria near the city of Ras al-Ayn, young Kurds have been prepared for battle at the Kurdish People’s Defense Forces (YPG) training camp. Here, teenagers and young adults are trained to conduct guerilla warfare against any threatening enemy. They have also been educated and inspired by the philosophies of Abdullah Ocalan, who is one of the founding members of militant organization the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). Unlike the typical Syrian opposition fighter, these trainees are fighting for a democratic society based on Marxist-Leninist philosophies. Most YPG soldiers believe that after President Bashar al-Assad falls, an all-out war against every faction involved is imminent.

One young female, Ahsi, said on her first day of training for the Kurdish Women Defense Forces, "'We train to defend ourselves. We never attack. We do not want FSA/Nusra forces here. We also don't want Assad's forces. We just want to be free."

Training of these young rebels came in before recent fighting in the city where the Islamist fighters were pushed out of Ras al-Ayn by Kurdish forces on July 17.

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The Peaceful Revolution, Bulgaria
Sofia, Bulgaria
By Mais Istanbuli
28 Jun 2013

Thousands of mainly younger, well-educated Bulgarians have been rallying in Sofia and other cities since June 14 to demand the resignation of the Socialist-led cabinet, shouting “Resignation” (‘Ostavka’) and “Mafia" in the streets. There have been up to 30,000 daily in Sofia alone.

The demonstrations have been primarily organized through Facebook. What prompted these protests was the election of Delyan Peevski as the head of the State Agency of National Security. Participants in the rally against Plamen Oresharski’s cabinet protest openly against his media, which have been accused by the majority of the public of presenting the procession in his benefit. Peevski is also allegedly connected with bank circles that influence the making of political decisions.

Because of the scandal involving the appointment of Peevski as the head of the State Agency of National Security, the president Rosen Plevneliev announced that he no longer trusts the “Oresharski” cabinet. Even after the removal of Delyan Peevski, the protests have continued, demanding the government’s resignation.

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Egypt's Garbage Slums
Cairo, Egypt
By Mais Istanbuli
22 May 2012

Manshiyat Naser, also known as Garbage City, is a shanty town in Cairo inhabited by mostly Coptic Christians. The over-populated area is known for its lack of a proper sewage system, electricity, and its polluted water system. Municipal water is scarcely distributed in the city but is often diverted to more prestigious locations. The Zabaleen, or garbage collectors, earn their livelihood by sorting and recycling the city’s waste. Some of the first Coptic farmers who arrived to Cairo in the 1940’s were in charge of the same task. Now, Manshiyat Naser consists of different families and areas that are in charge of various recycling projects. The government, however, rarely tends to the slum settlement and relies on the Zabaleen to do the necessary but dirty work.

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Israeli surfing community strives for...
Tel Aviv, Israel
By Mais Istanbuli
01 Apr 2013

Israel's surfing community is striving for peace, using their surfboards as a olive branch to bring together both Israelis and Palestinians on the waves. Organizations, initiatives and individuals are all facilitating collaboration as a way to overcome the deep political and social divide between the two people.

Explore Corps is one organization that has created an initiatives in Israel called Surfing 4 Peace. It is dedicated to creating a conversation between Israelis in Arabs. Although according to Explore Corps’ Matt Olsen, Surfing 4 Peace representatives have been banned from entering Gaza and participation is prohibited, Surfing 4 Peace was able to still donate surfboards to young girls in Gaza.

Maya Dauber, Israel’s legendary surf champion, is passionate about bridging the gap with her Arab counterparts as well. Dauber has her own line of surfing products called MayaSurf and has started a school where Arab and Israeli girls can meet to learn to surf. Though it is often difficult for Arab and Israeli girls to communicate, Dauber says there is “no religion” in the water.

The former professional surfer wants to send a strong message for girls who are surfing in Gaza as well as the Arab world: “Don’t give up and don’t care what everybody else thinks or wants for you. Just do whatever makes you happy.”

To Read Full Article Go To: http://transterramedia.com/media/19919

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War Scars in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Jul 2010

On November 21, 1995, the Dayton Agreement ended the civil war in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina. 18 years later, the promises of the agreement have not been kept. Returning to a state of peace is slow and difficult in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the remnants of the war are evident everywhere.

War refugees live in containers or partially destroyed buildings. In 2012, UNHCR reported that around 112,802 people are still internally displaced.

Meanwhile, the ICMP (International Commission on Missing Persons) still works to identify those who are missing. According to the ICMP, at the end of the conflict in former Yugoslavia, 40,000 people were missing or presumed dead. So far, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, about 10,000 people are still missing.

The younger generation hopes that Bosnia and Herzegovina will join the European Union one day, but for many, peace and resolution still seem unattainable.

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The "After Peace" Project
Worldwide
By Mais Istanbuli
08 Jul 2013

The long way towards peace starts just after the signature of the peace agreements. This is when the complex and difficult process of building peace, memory, truth, resolution and justice for all the victims begins.

The documentaries of the ‘After Peace' project seek to analyze and explain different paths taken by various countries who suffered an armed conflict in the last quarter of the 20th century. Researchers, activists for peace and reconciliation, victims, lawyers and educators expose what has been done and ignored in their countries since the conflict ended, and talk about the long road to reconciliation.

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Georgian Dream Rally in Tbilisi
Tbilisi, Georgia
By Mais Istanbuli
27 May 2012

In the spring 2012, before the Parliamentary elections, political coalition Georgian Dream led by Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili launched its election campaign with a rally in the center of Georgian capital - Tbilisi

Political leaders, activists and supporters of the coalition started gathering at three separate locations of Tbilisi. They began marching towards the Freedom Square where a stage was installed for the rally. While waiting for their leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, several political leaders of coalition addressed the rally.

After the victory of the political coalition Georgian Dream in the Parliamentary elections Bidzina Ivanishvili became the Prime Minister of Georgia. Many participants of that rally became the members of the Cabinet. Irakli Alasania became the Minister of Defense of Georgia, Maia Panjikidze – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tinatin Khidasheli and David Saganelidze became members of Georgian Parliament.

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Tahrir Square, July 2
Cairo, Egypt
By Mais Istanbuli
02 Jul 2013

Massive demonstrations erupted across Egypt, beginning on June 30, under the organization of the Tamorrod, or "Rebellion," movement, calling for the ouster of Mohammed Morsi and early presidential elections. The millions on the streets were successful in their demands in-so-far-as Morsi was removed from power by Egypt's Military on July 3. The Military stated that it was serving the people's will.

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Protests Turn Violent in Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo, Brazil
By Mais Istanbuli
21 Jun 2013

Thousands of protesters took over the streets of Sao Paulo throughout the past week, against the rise in public transportation costs and expenses paid by the Brazilian government to host the Confederations Cup and World Cup in 2014. The wave of protests grew. There were clashes with police, invasion of public buildings, many hospitalized and arrested. Now the protests are calmer and the government is responding with a series of important changes required by Social Movements and protestants.

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Kenya Grandmother's Survival
Nairobi, Kenya
By Mais Istanbuli
28 May 2013

Wairimu Gachenga, 70, lives in the notorious Nairobi slum of Korogocho, Kenya. She looks after her grandchildren, 19 year old Wahome Njeriand and 17 year old Wairimu Njeriafter, after their mother died from HIV. In order to make ends meet, she travels to the Dandora dumpsite to collect plastic and other recyclable material which she then sells. On a weekly basis, she receives some cabbage and other plant material from a church in the area that she uses to feed her family.
Gachenga regularly joins a group of grandmothers from the area who get together to practice self-defense techniques, after one of the natives was raped in 2007. Elderly women in Kenya are increasingly suffering from sexual assault, since many believe that they have a lower risk of catching HIV compared to younger women. In response to this problem, the group is also part of a support group for the women, where they swap stories and ensure each other's safety. When one of the women doesn't attend a meeting, the rest of the group suspects that she is in danger. Gachenga, like many other women in her condition, has resorted to communal means to secure her livelihood, where the weekly meetings act as a safe haven for those in need of help.

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Kenyan Grandmothers' Survival -Editor...
Nairobi, Kenya
By Mais Istanbuli
28 May 2013

Wairimu Gachenga, 70, lives in the notorious Nairobi slum of Korogocho, Kenya. She looks after her grandchildren, 19 year old Wahome Njeriand and 17 year old Wairimu Njeriafter, after their mother died from HIV. In order to make ends meet, she travels to the Dandora dumpsite to collect plastic and other recyclable material which she then sells. On a weekly basis, she receives some cabbage and other plant material from a church in the area that she uses to feed her family.

Gachenga regularly joins a group of grandmothers from the area who get together to practice self-defense techniques, after one of the natives was raped in 2007. Elderly women in Kenya are increasingly suffering from sexual assault, since many believe that they have a lower risk of catching HIV compared to younger women. In response to this problem, the group is also part of a support group for the women, where they swap stories and ensure each other's safety. When one of the women doesn't attend a meeting, the rest of the group suspects that she is in danger. Gachenga, like many other women in her condition, has resorted to communal means to secure her livelihood, where the weekly meetings act as a safe haven for those in need of help.

View More Photos Here: http://transterramedia.com/collections/1220

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Bangladesh Railway Slums 2013
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By Mais Istanbuli
20 Jan 2013

Bangladesh’s vibrant capital, Dakha, is home to more than 10 million people, making it one of the world’s most populated cities. Hundreds of people live beside the railroad in the Kawran Bazar slum, where residents face dire conditions in the unsanitary environment, such as a lack of running water.

Dhaka currently has a population of 14 million people, which is expected to increase to 50 million by 2050. Approximately 400,000 newcomers enter the city each year, most of whom are environmental refugees. Over-populated slums are filled with these refugees who have no choice but to put up with the poor living conditions. Dhaka is now considered to be the fastest-growing city in the world. Dhaka, Bangladesh, June, 2013.

For more information: http://transterramedia.com/media/19374

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The Emergency Room in Aleppo
Aleppo, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
31 May 2013

During the armed conflict in Syria, hospitals and their staff are frequently targeted by Bashar Al Assad's regime. The Syrian regime considers aiding rebels in any way an act of terrorism. The revolution has changed the stability throughout the country and now even large hospitals are in need of medical supplies, equipment, and staff.

Doctors and their staff at this makeshift hospital in Aleppo are overwhelmed by the amount of civilians and Free Syrian soldiers wounded by regime airstrikes, snipers, and various types of bombardments. The photographs were taken in the emergency room of a field hospital in Aleppo. Doctors were on standby in the emergency room cleaning medical tools and attending to patients when the bombs began to fall. Near the hospital's location, an airstrike commenced and the wounded began pouring in.

The first of the injured to make it to the hospital doors was a young girl. She was carried in by an FSA soldier who found her lying next to her deceased mother in the street after the bombs hit. The young girl was covered in blood and peppered with shrapnel, screaming for her mother while her mother's corpse was carried into the hospital.

The soldier explained that the little girl and her mother were walking together when the bomb exploded nearby, immediately killing the mother. Doctors worked frantically to extract shrapnel from the little girl’s body. After giving her drugs to calm her down, they proceeded to the X-Ray room. The young girl's father arrived from work and discovered his injured daughter laying on the surgical table, then collapsed and began to cry. Due to the quick response of the medical staff, the little girl survived but two young Free Syrian Army soldiers who arrived shortly after her died.

Another casualty was a young man who was transported to the hospital by a soldier from the Free Syrian Army. The man was shot twice by a sniper. The first bullet went through his chest and the second struck him in his back and was still in his body. The doctor hurried to stop hemorrhaging and didn't hesitate to put his finger into the hole to stop the bleeding. To calm the patient down, they gave him drugs and taped his eyes shut to avoid hallucinations. After an X-Ray, he was sent to the operation room. Doctors did not succeed in removing the bullet from his back but he later survived.

This is a daily occurrence for the doctors and staff of this hospital in Aleppo and many others throughout the country that are doing their best with what they have to stop the bleeding of Syria's conflict.

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A Day in the Emergency Room in Aleppo...
Aleppo, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
31 May 2013

During the armed conflict in Syria, hospitals and their staff are frequently targeted by Bashar Al Assad's regime. The Syrian regime considers aiding rebels in any way an act of terrorism. The revolution has changed the stability throughout the country and now even large hospitals are in need of medical supplies, equipment, and staff.

Doctors and their staff at this makeshift hospital in Aleppo are overwhelmed by the amount of civilians and Free Syrian soldiers wounded by regime airstrikes, snipers, and various types of bombardments. The photographs were taken in the emergency room of a field hospital in Aleppo. Doctors were on standby in the emergency room cleaning medical tools and attending to patients when the bombs began to fall. Near the hospital's location, an airstrike commenced and the wounded begin pouring in.

The first of the injured to make it to the hospital doors was a young girl. She was carried in by an FSA soldier who found her lying next to her deceased mother in the street after the bombs hit. The young girl was covered in blood and peppered with shrapnel, screaming for her mother while her mother's corpse was carried into the hospital.

The soldier explained that the little girl and her mother were walking together when the bomb exploded nearby, immediately killing the mother. Doctors worked frantically to extract shrapnel from the little girl’s body. After giving her drugs to calm her down, they proceeded to the X-Ray room. The young girl's father arrived from work and discovered his injured daughter laying on the surgical table, then collapsed and began to cry. Due to the quick response of the medical staff, the little girl survived but two young Free Syrian Army soldiers who arrived shortly after her died.

Another casualty was a young man who was transported to the hospital by a soldier from the Free Syrian Army. The man was shot twice by a sniper. The first bullet went through his chest and the second struck him in his back and was still in his body. The doctor hurried to stop hemorrhaging and didn't hesitate to put his finger into the hole to stop the bleeding. To calm the patient down, they gave him drugs and taped his eyes shut to avoid hallucinations. After an X-Ray, he was sent to the operation room. Doctors did not succeed in removing the bullet from his back but he later survived.

This is a daily occurrence for the doctors and staff of this hospital in Aleppo and many others throughout the country that are doing their best with what they have to stop the bleeding of Syria's conflict.

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Standing Man Protest, Taksim Square, ...
Istanbul, Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
20 Jun 2013

Women and men gather and read symbolic texts (like Ataturk and Orwell's 1984) and symbolic authors (like Kafka) as they take part in the continuing 'standing man' protest in Taksim Suqare, Istanbul, Turkey, June 19-20 2013. The peaceful protests, inspired by a lone protest who started the trend in Taksim Square earlier in the week when, for five hours, he stared toward a portrait of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish state. Images by GEORGE HENTON.

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Bricks of Bangladesh
Kushtia, Bangladesh
By Mais Istanbuli
10 Jan 2013

The cities of Bangladesh, one of the world's most densely populated countries, are growing fast and there's a never-ending need for cheap and available construction material. Today, bricks are the most efficient and widely used building material. Each day, new brick buildings are erected across the country. However, the millions of workers who make the bricks face harsh and uncertain conditions. All across Bangladesh, one can witness the towering brick chimneys.

There are more than 10,000 brick fields in the country, twice as many as ten years ago. Since Bangledash is rapidly urbanizing, bricks are a crucial building material. Some bricks get exported to nearby India, but the fields mainly provide for the local construction industry, which faces constant demand. The fields are staffed by hard-working Bangladeshis, many of whom come from rural backgrounds and work seasonally on the fields, which are closed during winter.

While brick-making represents an important part of Bangladesh’s industry, it remains both outdated and harmful to the workers. All the work is done manually, from digging the mud and forming the bricks to burning them in traditional kilns. Some workers live in make-shift buildings on the site, others have their houses and families nearby. The morning shift starts early, followed by a lunch break in the middle of the day. Then, they continue in the afternoon until sunset.

The workers eat together: traditional Bangladeshi fare which is rice accompanied by a spicy vegetable curry, lentils or fish. Many fields have a small pond nearby which allow the workers to rinse off the red dust generated in the brick-making process. The workers vary; young men, and some women too, work side by side with more experienced workers. Many young children work there as well.

While brick-making might provide a better income than agriculture or other jobs available in rural Bangladesh, it is unsafe and detrimental to the laborers' health. Accidents are common and workers have no protective gear. The fields affect nearby towns and villages as well, as the dust spreads across the surrounding areas, generating more health problems.

Moreover, the fields are a major source of environmental pollution. They represent the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, with several million tons emitted annually. In an effort to make the industry more sustainable, UNDP Bangladesh has launched a program to make the fields greener and more efficient. Most fields, however, have yet to take the step and replace their old kilns with new technology.

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Gezi Gets Gassed -Black and White-
Istanbul, Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
19 Jun 2013

Riots in Istanbul started for the sake of protecting Gezi Park, located beside Taksim Square, after the government announced a mall project which would be erected in place of the park. Initially, a few hundred people, mainly environmental activists, conducted peaceful protests and camped in the park. After the first two days of protesting, police officers violently attacked the protesters with tear gas and burned their sleeping tents.

The public furiously responded to these attacks, as they joined together void of any political movement, against the government. The protests contained a powerful, organic element, that combined the diverse Turkish community together for the first time in the country's history, fighting for one cause: freedom. Citizens want be to involved; they want to be the decision makers in the city. More than three weeks have passed since the riots began and there is still ongoing violence every day. Casualties already reached four dead, thousands injured, and thousands arrested. Also, many journalists have been taken into custody.

Present-day Gezi Park has a controversial history. The site was formerly an Armenian graveyard between 1551-1939 and was also the place of Topcu Kislasi, military barracks built under the reign of Sultan Selim III. The area also included the very first Genocide memorial statue in the world, built in 1919, which witness annual commemorations until 1924.

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Gezi Gets Gassed
Istanbul, Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
19 Jun 2013

Riots in Istanbul started for the sake of protecting Gezi Park, located beside Taksim Square, after the government announced a mall project which would be erected in place of the park. Initially, a few hundred people, mainly environmental activists, conducted peaceful protests and camped in the park. After the first two days of protesting, police officers violently attacked the protesters with tear gas and burned their sleeping tents.

The public furiously responded to these attacks, as they joined together void of any political movement, against the government. The protests contained a powerful, organic element, that combined the diverse Turkish community together for the first time in the country's history, fighting for one cause: freedom. Citizens want be to involved; they want to be the decision makers in the city. More than three weeks have passed since the riots began and there is still ongoing violence everyday. Casualties already reached four dead, thousands injured, and thousands arrested. Also, many journalists have been taken into custody.

Present-day Gezi Park has a controversial history. The site was formerly an Armenian graveyard between 1551-1939 and was also the place of Topcu Kislasi, military barracks built under the reign of Sultan Selim III. The area also included the very first Genocide memorial statue in the world, built in 1919, which witness annual commemorations until 1924.

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The Azerbaijan Army Today
Agdam, Azerbaijan
By Mais Istanbuli
18 Jun 2013

The Azerbaijani army celebrates the 95th anniversary of the formation of the National Army of Azerbaijan in the Karabakh region of Agdam. The National Army of Azerbaijan was formed on June 26, 1918 and consists of the army, air force and air defense forces, and naval forces. The modern Azerbaijani army was established in 1993, during the Nagorno-Karabakh war, on the basis that urban militias were associated with local self-defense groups.

In 1998, the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan amounted to more than 72,000 people. The Army (55,600 men and officers) had 245 tanks, 335 armored combat vehicles, about 300 field artillery pieces, missile systems, mortars, and more than 60 air defense missile systems. Air Force and Air Defense Forces (10.4 million people) had 37 combat air-crafts, 15 combat helicopters, and 100 air defense missile systems. The navy (2.2 million people) had 39 combat ships and boats. In 2005, the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan had 95 thousand personnel, including the Army, Air Defense, and the Navy. By 2010, the size of the armed forces reduced to 66,940 personnel.

Since September 1999, the Azerbaijani military has been exercising peacekeeping in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The army's main international partners include Turkey, Ukraine, Pakistan, Israel, Slovenia, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

In 1988, a war started between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the Caucasus region, which was fueled by inter-communal conflict that took place the preceding year. By December 1988, most Armenians and Azerbaijanis were involved in the conflict, as it transformed from a local problem in Nagorno-Karabakh to an "open inter-ethnic confrontation", according to AN Yamskov.

Between 1991-1994, the conflict led to large-scale military action for control of Nagorno-Karabakh and some surrounding territories. On May 5, 1994, a ceasefire agreement, the Bishkek Protocol, was signed between Armenia and the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, on one hand, and Azerbaijan, on the other hand.

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Greek State Broadcaster Under Occupation
Athens, Greece
By Mais Istanbuli
18 Jun 2013

Employees at Greek state broadcaster ERT occupy the headquarters and keep broadcasting despite the govenrment’s decision to suddenly close down the company. Thousands of citizens showed their solidarity guarding the headquarters from police intervention.

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Brazil Protests Corruption
Brazil
By Mais Istanbuli
17 Jun 2013

A wave of protests erupt in Brazil's Major cities.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters take the streets in eleven cities throughout Brazil, protesting against the rise in public transportation cost and the expenses paid out by the Brazilian Government to host the Confederations Cup and the World Cup of 2014. The protests are mostly peaceful but some have degenerated into violent clashes in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. After a day of protests the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said "The peaceful demonstrations are legitimate", she continued "It is the prerogative of the people to demonstrate however violence is condemned”.

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Kenya MP Parliament Protest
Nairobi, Kenya
By Mais Istanbuli
11 Jun 2013

Kenyan protestors threw animal blood symbolising greed during a protest over Members of Parliament's salaries on the 11th of June 2013. Kenyan MPs have voted to allow a pay increase for themselves in defiance of proposals to cut their pay. Kenyan MP's are already one of the higest paid in the world.The MP's voted for a monthly salary of about $10,000 (£6,540).

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Chapulling Generation, Occupy Gezi Park
Istanbul, Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
11 Jun 2013

Musicians, artists, doctors, nurses, students, activists, environmentalists have joined the rallies against the Turkish government that they believe threatens their freedom and way of life. The Park (Gezi) became a symbol of civil resistence, a laboratory for a new culture of resistance.

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Protest Against Land Grabbing Nairobi...
Nairobi, Kenya
By Mais Istanbuli
03 Jun 2013

Monday, June 3rd, a group of youths marched to the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, to the city hall in protest against land grabbing by foreigners.
Land grabbing by foreigners is a big issue in Kenya. As a result, many young people are unemployed because the places they normally work at are bought by private developers who erect tall buildings for financial benefits. In the past, the Kenyan government has not been of much help to the youths plight due to corruption. But with the current government, they are hoping things will change for the better.Picture By Nick Klaus

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The Choice of Democracy, Kafranbel
Kafranbel, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
14 Apr 2013

Every week, Ahmad Jalal, a young dentist in the city of Kafranabel, Syria makes controversial drawings about the Syrian regime, its allies, and the international community. Each drawing is a protest against the international community's declarations about Syria, or a denunciation of human rights abuses committed by the Syrian regime. Every week a banner is also made and echos the messages found in the drawings.

Unknown before the beginning of the Syrian revolution in 2011, Kafranbel is a small city that has become an icon of the Syrian uprising. Located in the Idlib region of North-Western Syria, in a zone controlled by the Free Syrian Army's Knights of the law brigade, this small city is now becoming known for its caricatures and banners.

The text on the caricatures and banners of Kafranabel is written in English in order to "reach the international public opinion more that the governments, as [the governments] have never done something for us since the beginning of the revolution", Ahmad Jalal says. Ahmad Jalal also tries to use the caricatures as a way to promote Syrian unity. Some drawings and messages have been dedicated, for instance, to Qamishli, a predominantly Kurdish city in the north-east of the country which is under the control of the PYD, a Kurdish independence party. After two years of revolution and war, Kafranbel is trying to lead the fight against sectarianism and is fast becoming a model for the rest of the Syrian population opposed to the regime, but keeping hope for a unified Syria.

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Rival Football Hooligans Unite Agains...
Istanbul, Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
02 Jun 2013

ISTANBUL, TURKEY--

Rival Turkish football fans have battled each other for years. But for the first time in history, fans from Istanbul's most powerful teams, Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce have found a common enemy; Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party. For nearly a week the three major fan's firms, Carsi, UltrAslan and Genc FB have put their differences aside.
Galatasary football fan Baris Demerli remarked "One month ago, we were killing each, now we got together and have formed 'Istanbul United'."
Nightly they don ski goggles and face masks and wrap themselves in football scarves against the effects of tear gas to do battle with the police. They see themselves as an army of resistance, the protectors of the people. And the people they are protecting are the thousands of peaceful protesters camped out in Istanbul's Gezi Park, demanding a change in the Turkish leadership's policies on urban development.

According to Hasan Esin, a die-hard, card-carrying Galatasaray fan and member of the UltrAslan fan club, the call to fight went out last Friday.

"Besiktas is bad, we need reinforcements," was the message that came through Twitter and Facebook. "We all went down to help", says Esin, who is a towering, powerful man with a gentle smile. Thousands came to fight with police every night since. Many have been injured, and officially three people have died, one police officer and two protesters. Erin says it's devolved into a guerrilla war. The football fans whose only weapons are paving stones have had to fight the "excessive force" of the police with "excessive cleverness."

They have built barricades from burned out vehicles, police gates, lamp posts, sign posts, paving stones, fencing and all sorts of metal objects they've harvested from the urban landscape. They use the barricades to block the police. Taksim Square is surrounded on all sides. Police can not come to Gezi Park without first bulldozing the barricades, which means facing off against the football fans.

Police have fired thousands of rounds of tear gas. They've used water cannons and rubber bullets. The football fans have used a series of tactics. They throw stones, they try to toss back teargas canisters. They yell, they chant vulgar slogans. One day they decided to pour gallons of olive oil on the steep incline up to Taksim Square. The police tank skidded each time it attempted to climb.

The violence began last week May 30, 2013 when police forces raided Gezi Park, surrounding sleeping protesters, tear gassing them and lighting tents on fire. The excessive use of force ignited tens of thousands of people to rise up against the government's heavy-handed tactics in support of Gezi Park. Nowadays the park is full of protesters camping out, playing music, dancing, chanting, sharing food, books, medicine and even offering "free hugs".

Erdogan "crazy projects": a third Bosphorus Bridge, a third airport for the city and a new shipping canal have infuriated environmentalists, urban planners and ordinary citizens of the already sprawling megalopolis. The destruction of a small park in the center of the city in favor of yet-another shopping mall—the city already boasts more than one hundred—was the last straw.

While free hugs and free love dominant the mood in Gezi Park, the football hooligans, hyped up on adrenaline, suffer casualties (some say 50 people have died facing off against the police). Volunteer medics rush people to nearby makeshift clinics to be treated for the effects of tear gas, oftentimes breathing problems and impact wounds from the teargas canisters.

Brave or bold, the football fans continue. A video circulating online makes light of the situation. In it, football fans dial the police emergency number.

"Please, police, send more gas," demands the addicted football fan. "Okay, we are coming," promises the police officer.

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The Dangerous Life of Bangladesh Ship...
Sitakund, Bangladesh
By Mais Istanbuli
10 Apr 2012

Ship-breaking is known as the breaking or recirculation of old ships for financial return. Old ships are sold so that the valuable steel can be reused. About 95 percent of a ship’s mass can be recycled.

Until the 1960s, ship-breaking was concentrated in western countries like the United States, Germany, United Kingdom or Italy. From the early 1980s, the majority of the world’s vessels taken out of service were sent to India, China, Pakistan or Bangladesh.

The workers at the ship-breaking yards in Sitakund, situated north of Chittagong in the Bay of Bengal, face the toughest working conditions of the whole country. Extremely hard labour, fatal working incidents, the exposure of abestos and toxic waste are among the deadly threats to those working in the ship-dismantling industry. Every step could be their last. Far away from their villages, the workers seldom see their families. They do all of this for only $1-3 per day.

Risky working conditions, environmental pollution and the adoption of child labor in the ship-breaking industry have drawn international attention on Bangladesh’s ship-dismantling. Changes occured but are far from international standards.

Over 100,000 workers are employed at ship breaking yards worldwide. It is estimated that some 50,000 people are directly employed in the ship-breaking industry in Bangladesh.

Local organisations in Bangladesh estimate that some 1,000-2,000 workers have died in the last 30 years, and many more have suffered serious injuries.

The ship breaking industry in Bangladesh is estimated worth an annual turn over of around 1.5 billion dollars.

Today access to the ship-breaking yards is very limited. Journalists and photographers, who covered grievance in the area, aren’t welcome anymore. The people of Bangladesh are aware of the problems and willing to change the situation.
The Labor Law Act 2006 has improved conditons on health, safety, working hours and compensation – but due to lack of political will and resources change is still not on the way.

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Nowhereland Tattoo Project
Cairo, Egypt
By Mais Istanbuli
27 May 2013

The Nowhereland Tattoo project in Cairo, Egypt is a underground movement led by two young Venezuelans tattoo artists, Orne Gil and Lorena Mora. The two are combating the country's growing conservatism and cultural and religious taboos associated with body art by opening a tattoo studio. Beyond that, they are attempting to change misconceptions correlated with tattoos, such as a being a mark of criminality or homosexuality, by educating people on tattoo art and how to get it safely.

In Egypt, the project faces many obstacles. In Islam, it is frowned upon for Muslims permanently mark their bodies with tattoos. In a Muslim country such as Egypt, getting body art can have grave consequences - one young man's father, a Salafist, threw corrosive acid on his son after discovering his tattoo.

Despite the fact that the two young artists are forced to work in the shadows in the back of a beauty parlor for now, the practice has spurned a new culture of Arabic calligraphy art, revolution-inspired drawings and poetry. The two remain determined and have a lofty goal of changing attitudes toward body art across not only Egypt, but other Middle Eastern countries and even some in South America. They know that change comes only one step at a time.

This is a photo-essay following the Nowehereland Tattoo Project at work in Cairo, Egypt.

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Migration in Greece
Greece
By Mais Istanbuli
04 May 2013

Every day hundreds of people attempt to enter the European Union illegally, and the majority choose to cross the region of Evros, in Greece.
The long and tiring journey to the border leads migrants to fall victim of dehydration, exhaustion, freezing temperatures and drowning.
People come from Africa, Asia, and even South America, and they attempt entering what is seen as the Europe's weak spot in border control. Those from northern African countries such as Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco fly to Istanbul entering Turkey with tourist visas, then subsequently destroy their documents and try to smuggle themselves across Evros River in the early hours of the morning.
In Greece, migrants from Africa and the Middle East are held in a detention center in the village of Tychero, on the border with Turkey and the Evros river.
The migrants that are not caught hand themselves in and receive a document bidding them to return to their home counties within thirty days, period in which they keep seeking passage on to Italy.
To Read More Information Go To: http://transterramedia.com/media/18341

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Rebels in Aleppo Resort to Hand-craft...
Aleppo, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
21 May 2013

A group of rebels, mostly university graduates, combined with their new found experience with weapons unite to produce handcrafted arms for the Al- Tawheed brigade.
So far they have created more than 5000 rockets from scratch within their makeshift armory

A report that highlights the production of handcrafted weapons and missiles used by rebels in their struggle against the Assad regime. The rebels promise to abandon weapon manufacturing after the fall of the current regime.
The rebels' age range is between 30 and 50 years old, some of them are defected members of regime forces.

Most of them are University graduates. One of the rebels used to work as a blacksmith and a trader.
After gaining the knowledge and expertise in weapon manufacturing throughout this war, the men are capable of producing large amounts of missiles and rockets. So far, they have manufactured more than 5000 rockets.

The story focuses not only the way rockets are being built from scratch in this makeshift "armory" for the Al-Tawheed brigade, but how they are using Google maps and Google Earth to pinpoint their targets and locations, in lieu of more sophisticated technology.

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Buddhist Women Face Fight Over Right ...
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand
By Mais Istanbuli
01 May 2013

The first all-female temple is squaring off against a traditional ban that restricts women from their to be ordained as monks in Thailand.

Women in Thailand cannot be ordained buddhist monks. However, Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, 68, is determined to reverse this tradition. In 2000, she left her life as professor in a renowned Thai university and traveled to Taiwan to receive the bodhisattva's precept. Three years later, she was ordained a full bhikkhuni, the word for female Buddhist monks, in Sri Lanka and came back to her home country to campaign to improve the position of Thai women in religion. Known as Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, she now lives at the Songdhammakalyani Monastery, the first female temple in Thailand, located in Nakhon Pathom, near Bangkok, where she ordains new novices despite of the official ban.

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Ancient Tradition of Lelo
Shukhuti, Georgia
By Mais Istanbuli
05 May 2013

While the rest of Georgia was celebrating Easter around dinner table on May 5th, one village in western Georgia marked the occasion with a rugby-like scramble that effectively blocked traffic for hours on the country's East-West national highway.

The traditional Georgian sport known as lelo ("goal" or "try" in Georgian), has no rules, no time-outs, and no limit to the number of people (men only) who can play. The "field" is the entire village of Shukhuti, a hamlet of about 2,000 in the western region of Guria. Two creeks, about 150 meters apart, mark the goal lines for two teams. The teams are made up of residents from the upper and lower halves of the village. The aim is simple: whichever side is the first to carry a 16-kilogram leather ball back to their creek wins the game.

Victory means dedicating the leather ball to a deceased villager and placing it on his grave after the match -- a reflection of Georgian Orthodox Church traditions of visiting cemeteries on Easter to commemorate loved ones. Lelo balls in various stages of decomposition can be seen on graves in both of Shukhuti's cemeteries.

In a Georgian village, Easter is celebrated with a Lelo fight When most of the Orthodox Christians join their families at the Easter table, one Georgian village celebrates the holiday in a cloud of dust raised by a crowd of fighting men. Shukhuti village is an inconspicuous location in Guria, a poor region in Western Georgia famous for its cultural heritage. The village is notable for two things – a highway running across the settlement and one day in a year when the road is closed. On Easter Sunday, all traffic here halts to give way to the ancient traditional game called Lelo. Predecessor of rugby Lelo (meaning “throw, try” in Georgian) has no referee. The reason is very plain – the game has no rules, time limits or player restrictions to enforce. The ritual match takes place on the field in central part of Shukhuti village between two brooks. On Easter Sunday, men from the upper and the lower village fight for a 16 kilogram ball called Burti. The goal of the game is to carry the honourable leather ball to the corresponding side of the village. The ball is thrown to the crowd by a priest in the carefully measured centre between the two brooks, and for several hours the approximately 150 metre field becomes a Lelobattlefield. The highway that runs across the field is closed and nothing can stop the fighting press – neither fences, nor gardens or road signs. The victory brings honour to the winning part of the village, while the ball is solemnly carried by the champions across the village and put on the grave of the last deceased player. Nobody knows the exact time when people began playing Lelo. There are many versions based on different sources, but a number of pagan rituals involved in the game suggest that it was played in Georgia long before the coming of Christianity. Lelo is believed to be the predecessor of the rugby, a sport now popular across the modern world. 16 kilograms of honour On the Easter Sunday morning, Shukhuti village is the calm before the storm. Men from both parts of the village are in their camps discussing strategies of the upcoming battle or spending their last quite hours of the day with their families. But soon the silence is broken as the solemn and heady ceremony of stuffing the leather ball begins. The Burti ball is made on the eve of the Lelo. The honour is bestowed on the single local family, which has stayed true to the trade of shoemaking from the ancestral times. On the festive morning, the empty ball is welcomed with toasts in the yard of the shoemaker and the ceremony of stuffing the ball with earth, sand and wine begins. It will continue well into the afternoon, but first the crowd of neighbours and priests drink toasts from the still empty leather ball using it as a vessel. Everyone in the yard must drink from the Lelo burti ball wishing victory to the players and strength to ball. Pope Saba is at the centre of the ceremony. For 13 years, the former Greco-Roman wrestler, who has fought for the Lelo honour for three decades himself, has been endowed with the upstanding privilege to bless the ball and throw it to the players. One of the old-timers of the game, the taxi driver Robinson Kobalava lifts a wine bowl and urges to drink for the tradition of Lelo: “Our village is in no way exceptional. Vehicles pass through here at high speed. But today we are the centre of the entire Georgia. The tradition of our ancestors to fight for the honour of Lelo still lives and we have to respect this heritage.” After a couple of hours of toasts, jokes and funny acquaintances, the ritual of stuffing the ball – as well as the 50 litre wine bottle sitting nearby – comes to an end. Once the ball is stuffed, it undergoes yet another weighing. An archaic scale shows almost 18 kilograms, but Kobalava assures that “once the wine evaporates, it will be exactly 16 kilograms”. A crowd of participants and spectators walk from the house of the shoemaker down the highway to the church where the ball will be consecrated. It is carried by pope Saba, but he is willing to give everyone a feel of what it’s like to catch such a ball. The ones who do catch it are hailed with applause, while the ones who trip or drop the ball are showered with laughter. The drivers stuck on the road are not mad – they also get an opportunity to touch and lift the heavy ball. The noisy crowd finally reaches the church where the ball is sanctified and left to rest for a couple of hours. Gamishvit ar vtamashob Georgy from the upper Shukhuti invites us to the yard of his house near the church to explain the history and tradition of Lelo. Once we settle in the shade, a Georgian table appears in front of us covered with food and carafes of wine. According to Georgy, wine is obligatory before the game. Toasts are said to the luck and health of the players, and to the continuing ancestral tradition. Georgy, 35, first played the game as a teenager, and assures that he is not afraid of the contest. But he persistently recommends us to memorise one Georgian phrase – Gamishvit ar vtamashob (“Let me go, I am not playing”). According to him, these words are our only escape once we are caught in the middle of the game. Escorting the ball with a shotgun The men from the lower and upper village begin flocking to the field some time before the game to chat and share their memories of the past games. According to Kobalava, the men are rivals only during the game of Lelo. He also stresses one rigorous rule of honour – no hitting. The ones who get too excited and go too far are promptly separated and placated. Each year, the match begins exactly at 5 pm. There are no limits to the length of the match – it can range from two to eight hours. Soon applause and shouting signal the appearance of pope Saba with the Burti ball accompanied by several men and a guide armed with a hunting rifle. The crowd comes to the boiling point and the gunshots announce the beginning of the match. The Burti is thrown to the players. A desperate fight Once the Burti ball is in the game, the force of several hundred people explodes. Like a whirlwind, the players move in unpredictable directions destroying everything in their path. Lelo is a masculine game, but women also get to play their part. They do not fight for the ball, but try to help their teams by pinching and distracting men from the opposing part of the village. Some men ruthlessly fight for the ball, and some watch the situation from a higher ground to prevent the opposing team from secretly smuggling the ball out of the field. One of the players wearing a T-shirt saying “Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Russia” is lumbered with patriotic ridicule. But he promptly retorts that he is only “wearing the tee so it gets torn”. Indeed, clothes of men soon turn to rags, and footwear is sent flying over the crowd. The cloud of dust keeps moving back and forth between the two brooks for a couple of hours.If anyone falls on the ground, the nearby players put their hands in the air – a signal for the game to slow down. But from the outside, the rhythm of the match is relentless, while the injured are carried to the safety beyond the chaos. Honour after death Two hours later the Lelo burti finally makes its way across the brook of the lower village. With fight still raging on, cheers and salutes start filling the air. The ball is carried to the place where it was born – the shoemaker’s porch – to be displayed to the crowd. It had been four years since the lower village last secured the Lelo victory therefore the atmosphere here is extremely jubilant. Young players proudly carry the ball down the streets towards the cemetery shouting “Long live Lower Shukhuti! Long live Lelo!” Once in the cemetery, the ball is placed on the grave of the player who had died in the game of 2008. Toasts are said and several hundred litres of wine begin to evaporate in the crowd. Many older balls can be seen on other graves – some had been placed there quite recently and still bear wine stains, some are almost rotten, but continue to sit honourably atop the graves. There is a saying that better to see once than to hear a hundred times. Lelo is hard to understand until you see it with your own eyes.

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'Kutmaan' (hiding): Turkey's LGBT Asy...
Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
24 Apr 2012

Kütmaan, 'Hidden lives', is very much a work in progress, documenting the lives of individuals claiming asylum based on their sexuality or gender identity in Turkey, and exploring LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Kurdish identity in south eastern Turkey.
Once complete, the work will be three stories, a continuation from 'Iraq's unwanted people', about gay Iraqi men claiming asylum and resettlement from Damascus, Syria in late 2010, as part of a long-term documentary on LGBT identity in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Originating from Iraq and Iran, hundreds of individuals claiming asylum based on sexuality or gender identity grounds, are currently in Turkey waiting for resettlement to a third country.

This ongoing series of images attempts to portray the waiting, the unknown future, and the highs and lows of the resettlement experience in Turkey.

In Turkey's south-east, Kurdish LGBT people are struggling and fighting for legal equality, acceptance, and to live their lives without discrimination and fear. Caught between both the LGBT and Kurdish political movements individuals are looking for freedom in a notoriously conservative area of the country, and one which is struggling with its own economical and identity complications.

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Female Monks in Thailand
Nakhon Pathom, Thailand
By Mais Istanbuli
01 May 2013

Women in Thailand cannot be ordained Buddhist monks. However, Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, 68, is determined to reverse this tradition. In 2000, she left her life as a professor in a renowned Thai university and traveled to Taiwan to receive the bodhisattva's precept. Three years later, she was ordained a full bhikkhuni, the word for female Buddhist monks, in Sri Lanka and came back to her home country to campaign to improve the position of Thai women in religion. Known as Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, she now lives at the Songdhammakalyani Monastery, the first female temple in Thailand, located in Nakhon Pathom, near Bangkok, where she ordains new novices despite the official ban.

More photos can be viewed here: http://transterramedia.com/collections/1105

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EGYPTIANS SIGN ON REBEL STATEMENT CAM...
Cairo, Egypt
By Mais Istanbuli
15 May 2013

Members of the April 6 Youth Movement and the "Tamrod campaign" collected thousands of signatures on the statement of the rebels.
This campaign is working against President Morsi's stay in power.

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Lebanese Unable to Marry in Their Cou...
Beirut, Lebanon
By Mais Istanbuli
07 May 2013

Numerous Lebanese citizens are unable to get married as they please. All personal status laws, from inheritance to marriage, are dictated by the country's multiple religious authorities. For inter-confessional couples, divorcees wishing to remarry, and those who simply do not have the money to pay for pricy religious ceremonies, the only way to get married is to travel to Cyprus or Turkey. While this was once taboo, it has nowadays become a booming business for marriage agencies and tour operators, who offer complete wedding packages of almost $2000 per couple, all inclusive.
To Read Full Article Go to : http://transterramedia.com/media/18038

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Stories of the Stateless in Lebanon
Beirut, Lebanon
By Mais Istanbuli
06 May 2013

While Lebanon is perhaps the most socially liberal country in the Arab world, it remains a country largely designed on traditional, sometimes archaic laws. One such law relates to women’s rights – Lebanese women, unlike men, cannot pass Lebanese citizenship onto their children, or to their non-Lebanese husbands.

The consequence of this law is a diminished legal and social status for women. Children of Lebanese women and non-Lebanese men are not considered legal citizens, even when they are born and raised in Lebanon. Palestinian refugees, and descendants of those who rejected Lebanese citizenship in the 1932 census in order to avoid military service during the French Mandate, also share this legal status. These people are known collectively as "al-Maktum Qaid" or "stateless.”

"Stateless" inhabitants of Lebanon do not have passports, do not have access to public health care, cannot attend public schools, and cannot own private property. Marriage and travel is difficult, sometimes impossible. Furthermore, in certain cases children without nationality rights can be denied residency and deported.

To Read Full Article Go to: http://transterramedia.com/media/17658

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The Jewish Community in Livorno
Livorno, Italy
By Mais Istanbuli
16 Apr 2013

The town of Livorno once welcomed with open arms Jews banished from Spain and Portugal. The historical traditions of Livorno and Jewish cultures are still merged to this day, evident by typical dishes such as the “roschette”, “caucciucco” (fish stew) and the Livorno-style mullet, all of which are of the Sephardi tradition.

Livorno is home to an old Sephardi Synagogue that was built in 1591 but seriously damaged by American bombing in 1945. The construction of a new Synagogue was initiated by architect Angelo di Castro at the beginning of the 1960s. The original building was comprised of reinforced concrete inspired by the tabernacle (sanctuary tent) that accompanied the Jewish peoples along the desert during the exodus. The new Synagogue has a modern style that it is not accepted by all the Jewish community of Livorno. Although externally modern, inside the synagogue and the center of the Jewish community adjacent to it is a dedication to the Jewish history of Italy. Both buildings host over 400 years worth of documents written in Portuguese, Italian or Hebrew.

Today there are around 600 Jewish people registered as residents in Livorno. During the Arab-Israeli war the Jews of Libya’s second largest city of Benghazi also headed to find sanctuary in the Italian province. There has also been an exodus of young Jews leaving Livorno for Israel.

To Read Full Article Go to: http://transterramedia.com/media/17635#
Article Written by : Enrico Catassi & Raffaele Palumbo

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Little Jerusalem in Italy
Pitigliano, Italy
By Mais Istanbuli
17 Apr 2013

The other name of Pitigliano is "little Jerusalem".
To Read Full Article Go to: http://transterramedia.com/media/17634

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Horse Farm in Italy
Pisa, Italy
By Mais Istanbuli
11 Apr 2013

The Park of San Rossore, a royal farmstead that became a presidential mansion, is also the site where in 1938, the Italian king formerly signed the introduction of the racial law. Today, San Rossore is most famous for its hippodrome. The racetrack and training spaces are managed by the Alfea society.

In the studs of Pisa there are around 600 horses, and the total cost of keeping each of them is €20.000. There are around 100 hectares of tracks available to ride, and the hippodrome organizes around 50 official sports days per year. Thousands attend the races, and around €600.000 is gambled each race day. Eight hundred people work in the horse racing industry in Pisa, 50 000 at national level.

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Retirees March in Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Mais Istanbuli
08 May 2013

The day of action is to flag to claim five key points agreed by all organizations:
- Not less than the Minimum Retirement Minimum Living Wage, and this no less than the total basic basket.
- Retrieve the 82% mobile worker wage active in his same position, office or function and the recomposition of all scales according to each employee's work history. - Creation of the National Social Security Institute, which will operate as a public law entity non-state, non-profit, self-sufficiency and economic independence, legal, financial, accounting and administration, managed and administered by the Constitution as representatives of the National retirees, active workers and the state's share. - Standardization of PAMI. Medical-care of retirees with updating all those concepts relating to social benefits, ensuring equitable coverage, effective and timely beneficiaries.
- Home loan for pensioners, 10% (ten percent) of housing units whose construction is financed directly or indirectly, in whole or in part with funds from the National Treasury.

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KENYA KIBERA INFRASTRUCTURE
Nairobi, Kenya
By Mais Istanbuli
04 May 2013

In recent years the government has resorted to upgrading the roads in Kibera due to their inhospitable conditions that reduces trade in the region. Acknowledging the problem, the government of Kenya launched the “vision 2030 project” in order to propel the trade route to the standards of developed nations. The project plans to provide the inhabitants of the local area with a clean and hospitable environment that will in time benefit the residents bringing more trade to the area.

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Moscow May 6th Prisoners Rally
Moscow, Russia
By Mais Istanbuli
06 May 2013

Thousands gathered in Moscow in support of opposition activists who were arrested at last year's May 6th rally on Bolotnaya Square, in a manifestation during Putin's entrance into office.

The opposition rally on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square marked the anniversary of an antigovernment protest that ended in mass arrests on May 6, 2012.

There are still 27 activists detained from last year’s rally that protested Vladimir Putin’s return to presidency.
A placard on the main stage read “Freedom for the Prisoners of May 6,” a phrase the crowd chanted along with “Russia will be free”.

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Turkish Nomads
Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
16 Feb 2013

The Yörük, nomads of Anatolia and the Balkans, rely on animals as their livelihood. With modern technology, education and government subsidies, some of them have become sedentary. For those that still migrate in the traditional way, they live in the lowlands during the winter and the mountains in the summer. For the modern families, they live in the villages or cities in the winter and have summer homes on the coast.

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Kenya XYZ Show
Nairobi, Kenya
By Mais Istanbuli
26 Feb 2013

The XYZ Show comments on current political and social affairs in Kenya through the use of latex puppets resembling prominent figures.On The XYZ Show, national leaders in Kenya are lampooned with the purpose of using humour to address difficult and controversial national issues while promoting transparency in government. The XYZ Show is modelled after the UK’s “Spitting Image” and France’s “Les Guignols de L’Info” television programs.

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The Christian death-mask Festival
Oton, Philippines
By Mais Istanbuli
04 May 2013

Katagman refers to the ancient settlers of Western Panay. These settlers have a unique burial ritual in which they placed a gold nose disc and gold eye mask on the bodies of the dead in order to protect the deceased from evil spirits. This ancient ritual has Chinese influences, as the natives had a strong trade relationship with them before the Spaniards conquered the Philippines.

Oton was once at the center of trade routes in the Panay Islands. The community was so prosperous and influenced by the Chinese presence that burial rites using gold artifacts, porcelain and carnelian beads often took place. Many such artifacts have since been discovered.

Following the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, Oton was established in 1572 by the Augustinian Friars, and soon became the center of Spanish administration in Iloilo. Once known as Ogtong, meaning reef or tidal flat, Oton was a missionary base for the conversion of the entire region. This led to the Christianization of the native Katagmans.

The Katagman Festival comprises street dancing, painting and dance theatre competitions, that highlight and showcase Oton's rich historical past.

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Hefazot E Islam Rally in Bangladesh
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By Mais Istanbuli
05 May 2013

Hefazot E Islam called for a meeting on May 5th, 2013, in Motijeel, Dhaka, Bangladesh for the purpose of passing the new blasphemy law. Upon their arrival, the police began firing at the Hefazot E Islam activists with modern weaponry, leaving the activists to defend themselves with sticks and bricks.

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Perfect Soldiers
Battambang, Cambodia
By Mais Istanbuli
25 Apr 2013

A severe problem facing Cambodia is the magnitude of landmines littered across provinces throughout the country. This is the legacy of the savage war that raged in the country for five years. All sides of the conflict used landmines manufactured in China, Russia, Vietnam and the United States. Pol Pot, whose regime was responsible for the deaths of approximately 1.7 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979, purportedly called land mines his “perfect soldiers.”

CMAC (the Cambodian Mine Action Centre) work day in and day out to rid Cambodia of the millions of landmines and unexploded ordnance that remain in the country.
Recent estimates show that there may be as many as four to six million mines and unexploded devices left undetected in Cambodia, although some estimates run as high as 10 million.

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Economic Impact of the Explosion in W...
Texas, USA
By Mais Istanbuli
19 Apr 2013

The explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, occurred at the edge of Highway 35, a vital link for the North American economy, where the heart of Texas is booming. The loss of this plant is a blow that threatens Texas’ economic model, which is based on low taxes and low binding legislation for companies.

L'explosion de l'usine d'engrais de West, au Texas, est survenue au bord d'une autoroute vitale pour l'économie nord-américaine, au cœur d'un Texas en plein boom. Un coup dur qui questionne le modèle économique texan fondé sur des impôts faibles et des législations peu contraignantes pour les entreprises.

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March Against Corruption in Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo, Brazil
By Mais Istanbuli
21 Apr 2013

Day of enough corruption' or 'Dia do Basta’ in Portuguese is a social and popular movement, which promotes several initiatives to combat corruption and promote social and political participation. People went out on the streets on Sunday, April 21th, 2013, to participate in this movement.

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Car Explodes Outside French Embassy i...
Tripoli, Libya
By Mais Istanbuli
23 Apr 2013

The city of Tripoli woke up this morning to their first attack on a foreign embassy leaving many to doubt the powers of local security forces. US officials have made allegations that Al-Qaeda may have been involved in the car bombing at the French embassy.

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The Last Church in Benghazi
Benghazi, Libya
By Mais Istanbuli
14 Apr 2013

Benghazi’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is now the city’s last remaining church that once represented a predominantly 300,000 strong European and Asian expat community.

A year into the revolution the Bishop of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church noticed a sharp decline in the size of his congregation. Previously, his congregation was home to Benghazi’s Christian community evenly split between Italians, Maltese Libyans, Filipinos and Africans from Ghana and Nigeria.

Bishop Sylvester Magro, of Benghazi now states that merely 300 Christian and predominantly Filipino community remains in the city, this stark drop in numbers is represented during a once popular Friday service. The Bishop stated that he once served mass to a congregation of 2,000 people but now there are only around 6, largely consisting of Filipino migrant workers. The Filipino workers earned the respect of the Libyan Muslims as during the revolution most the of the workers served as nurses and that for a long period of time in the past 2 years they were not paid by their employers. However, instead of leaving the country as was the trait of most migrant workers, they stayed behind and tended to those injured during the uprising.

Additionally, the members and priests of the Greek Orthodox Church abandoned their holy site due to fear of attacks. The Immaculate Conception Church is now Benghazi only functioning church.

Relations with Muslims and Christians had been relatively peaceful, yet since the fall of Gaddafi and the rise of Islamic militias many Christians fled the country for fear of persecution. A large proportion of Italian Christians and Maltese Libyans, once totaling around 50,000 have returned to Italy and Malta.

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Cairo by TokTok
Shubra El Khaymah, Egypt
By Mais Istanbuli
23 Mar 2013

The suburbs of Cairo, also called local areas, are home to millions of people, many of whom survive on scarce wages and in poor living conditions. Life has always been difficult in these impoverished areas, but the revolution has left many residents struggling as the media's eye focuses on Egypt's ongoing democratic transition.

Many hoped for improved living conditions following the historic June 2012 election, but have yet to receive the aid they were promised by the various candidates. In many areas of the suburbs, garbage litters the streets, sometimes in huge piles that are set ablaze overnight. No police or security monitor the streets, leading many to feel unsafe in their own neighbourhoods.

One of the most popular modes of transportation in these areas is the Toktok, a three wheeled moto-rickshaw that is banned in the center of the city, and can carry up to four people plus the driver. The popularity of these vehicles comes mainly from their cheap fares and practicality. Because they are smaller than a normal vehicle, they are efficient in the small alleys and unpaved roads that define the downtrodden suburbs.

The toktoks have no plates, licenses or insurance, and are not subject to safety inspections. Their existence itself is not addressed in traffic laws, despite the fact that in the last 10 years their number has grown exponentially, and that Cairo's streets are now literally invaded by them.

Drivers tend to be teenage and small boys, some of them are young as 6 years old. Most have experienced tragedies forcing them to leave their studies to support themselves and their families. Some of these young drivers are luckier than others, going to school in the morning and working in the afternoon, though most try to be home by 10 PM for their own safety. Cairo's suburbs are notoriously dangerous at night, and several drivers have been attacked, robbed of their toktok, and even killed. Some continue to drive in the streets despite the darkness, but carry with them a knife or a gun, and sometimes a friend, as deterrent.

This essay is a trip inside these suburbs, through one of the most popular ways of transportation that local residents use everyday. It is a glance into the living conditions of millions of people who have been forgotten by their government and have lost any hope of a better future, but whose number may play an important part in the next parliamentary elections.

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Destroying Aleppo's Heritage
Aleppo, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
05 Apr 2013

The Old City of Aleppo, located in Syria, carries historical significance since the 12th century. It is known as the historic city center of Aleppo. Historically, Aleppo had been part of diverse states such as the Roman Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate and the Ottoman Empire. So, it is needless to say that the history of Aleppo carries immense ethnic and religious diversity.

The area contains a large number of ancient buildings, mosques, churches, and madrasas.

It is also important to note that the ancient city of Aleppo was considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, due to its large old mansions, historic souks, and ancient caravansaries.

Unfortunately, most of the area has been destroyed, the history is found under the rubble, and the beauty of what once was has vanished.

Important monuments such as Souq al Madina were destroyed and burnt due to the major attack that was launched by the FSA in September 2012. Also, many other buildings and monuments have been destroyed as a result of the bomb that were dropped by the Syrian government aircrafts and the shells from the artillery.

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Libya’s Only Addiction Clinic Struggles
Benghazi, Libya
By Mais Istanbuli
15 Apr 2013

There’s a light sheen of sweat across Mohamed’s face as he recounts his story. ‘I first tried Tramadol more than five years ago with my friends. We’d take the pills and go to coffee shops or play music. At first it was great. It mellows you out, gives you energy and makes you feel strong. But you end up needing more and more. After a while you start to get aches all over your body. You get crazy mood swings and feel like you can’t control your own life.’
Mohamed’s tale is one that is all too familiar to the staff at Benghazi’s Al Nafsia drug addiction clinic. We’re sitting in a shady spot in the octagonal communal garden that lies at the centre of clinic. The atmosphere of contemplation makes it seem like an oasis of calm in a city where assassination attempts and armed raids are a monthly occurrence and the sound of gunshots regularly punctuates the afternoon haze. At the Nafsia clinic Libyans with addiction problems are helped to kick their habits with the help of psychologists and tailor-made drug courses. The only problem: this clinic has room for just 40 inpatients, and it is the only treatment centre of its kind in a country where drug addiction is rapidly increasing. Doctors across Libya say they are being overwhelmed by patients with drug problems and it is proving impossible to provide appropriate treatment. ‘Every month more people come to us needing help,’ says Dr Abdullah Fannir, deputy director at Tripoli’s Gargaresh psychiatric hospital. ‘It’s part of the fallout from the revolution. Border control is weak making it easy for drug traffickers, and there’s more demand as well. Hundreds of thousands of Libyans were displaced, wounded or bereaved during the uprising. Now street drugs are proving to be an attractive solution to many of those who are struggling to deal with their new reality.’

Drugs and stability

Due to Libya’s weak institutions and the stigma attached to drug taking there are no official statistics on drug use and there have been very few studies. Last June a study published by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine revealed that the percentage of HIV positive injecting drug users stood at 87%, the highest recorded anywhere in the world. Responding to the report last year the Libyan government said that it would treat the HIV and drug crisis as a matter of national priority but, according to Dr Fannir, so far nothing has been done to confront the problem. ‘There is still no needle exchange program and our doctors don’t have the right experience or the right drugs. In fact not a single one of the report’s recommendations has been implemented. I believe because of this inaction the rate of HIV infection is rising among injecting drug users, even as the number of drug users increases.’ According to Fannir the worsening crisis has severe implications for the wider community. ‘It is getting to the point that it threatens national stability. Heroin addiction is causing massive damage to poor communities. People are seeing their friends and family falling into destructive lifestyles. Drug dealing is fueling militia violence. All this is undermining faith in Libya’s politicians and the effect of this should not be underestimated.’

Addiction ‘not a priority’

Despite the concerns of those working on the ground senior health officials are unphased. Dr Mustafa Gebreil is an independent member of Libya’s congress and works in the Health Ministry. He rejects the idea that battling addiction should be an immediate focus for the government.
‘The Health Ministry is concentrating on crisis fighting. There are many issues that need attention in Libya, and because of this treating drug addicts is not a priority.’ The social stigma that surrounds HIV and drug taking is a big part of the problem according to Dr Alessandra Martino, an HIV specialist who has worked in Libya since 2005. ‘HIV is very closely associated with vices like casual sex, homosexuality and drug taking: things that are unacceptable in mainstream Libyan culture. This means for Libyans HIV and drug abuse are not a very fashionable area to be campaigning about or working in.’ Dr Martino says the shame that surrounds HIV leads some suffers to do terrible things to hide their illness. ‘Recently I had to treat a two month old child with HIV. The child’s mother had been infected by her husband who was addicted to heroin and knew he was HIV positive. He concealed his illness from his wife when they got married and forced her to give birth in Tunisia to avoid the HIV test that is compulsory at Libyan maternity hospitals. If doctors had known that the mother was HIV positive the child could have been born without the disease but now its future looks very bleak’.

To get married in Libya you are required to present a certificate that shows you are free of HIV, but according to Dr Martino these are readily available on the black market and before the revolution cost just 100 dinars ($80).
Once infected HIV sufferers find it difficult to receive treatment. Many hospitals are terrified of HIV contamination and will refuse treatment to those suspected of being injecting drug users. And even when they do receive treatment it can be ineffective. Problems with drug procurement means sometimes patients can’t get hold of the medicine they need. This allows the disease to mutate, and according to Dr Martino, because of this most patients being treated for HIV in Libya have become at least partially resistant to the treatment they are receiving.

Revolution and rehabilitation

Accounts from drug users back up the reports by doctors that Libya’s drug problems are worsening. Salah is a recovering heroin addict at Benghazi’s Nafsia hospital and says heroin became increasingly easy to get hold of after the uprising.
‘It was everywhere after the revolution. I originally gave up heroin in 2008 but I started to take it again after the liberation. I fought on the front lines and like other fighters I received a significant payout after the revolution. A lot of my friends started to take it, and because I had the extra money it was difficult to stay away.’

According to Dr Alessandra Martino the influx of the drug makes sense. ‘If I was a heroin importer this is exactly the place that I’d come to. Libya has a young population and there’s nothing for young people to do. There are few jobs, few sports facilities or cinemas, officially there’s no sex before marriage and there is no alcohol. Soon they’re going to have lots of money because the oil money will be distributed. And law enforcement is weak. It’s the perfect market.’

Addiction education

The lack of knowledge about drugs in Libyan society is also a cause for concern according to Dr Fannir. ‘During the Gaddafi era the general public knew very little about the dangers of drugs, and the situation isn’t improving. The chaos of revolution meant outreach and education programs collapsed and many still haven’t returned.’
Speaking about their experiences many of the patients at the drug treatment centre lament the lack of education about drugs in Libya. ‘Back in the 90s we didn’t know what we were letting ourselves in for,’ says Esam, a HIV positive veteran of Tripoli’s heroin scene. ‘There was a place in the old quarter where you could put your arm through a hole in a wall with some cash in the palm of your hand. Someone would take your money and you’d receive an injection, but you wouldn’t see anything. People aren’t so naive now, but most still don’t fully understand the consequences of their actions.’

Free treatment for some

As we leave the Nafsia clinic the patients prepare for lunch. A hospital worker hands around containers with chicken stew and rice in the communal garden. The scene is relaxed and there’s a sense of optimism amongst the patients.
Drug users from all over the country are referred to the Al Nafsia clinic by doctors. They come from all walks of life and treatment is free but, with facilities for just a handful of inpatients and a couple of hundred outpatients the vast majority have to battle their addictions without proper support. ‘This place is good for Libya but you’ve got to remember its patients are the lucky few’ says one of the hospital’s psychologists as he shows us out. ‘We help all we can but for the rest free Libya is a very difficult place.’

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Kurdish Female Fighters in Syria
Ras Al Ain, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
07 Dec 2012

Since the start of Syria’s civil war, Kurdish residents have largely avoided fighting in the conflict. However, the end of 2012 witnessed a growing presence of female Kurdish soldiers operating as one of the many factions in the country. Though their official position vis-a-vis the regime and the FSA remains ambiguous, what is clear is that they hold strategic ground in Syria’s resource rich region of Ras Al-Ain.

The young women are mostly in their early twenties and are linked to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the first Kurdish party in Syria. The party’s greatest opponent is the KDPS (the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria), which is connected to Iraqi Kurdistan. These political rivalries, added to the strategic status of the resource-rich region and calls for Kurdish autonomy, makes north-east Syria one of the most complex zones of the war.

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North Korea, Panmunjeom, DMZ zone / R...
Pyongyang, North Korea
By Mais Istanbuli
04 Mar 2013

Panmunjom, early April 2013 -- A country at war: since 8 March the ceasefire between North and South Korea, signed in 1953, is no longer valid, unilaterally cancelled by Pyongyang. All connections have been cut: the red phone, installed in 1971 for emergencies, has been disactivated.

The Air China plane flying from Beijing toward Pyongyang is almost empty. Now that tensions are mounting, very few journalists are admitted in the Stalinist country.

At Pyongyang international airport everything seems normal. The people are friendly, even to foreigners, the atmosphere is relaxed.

Quite different is the situation in Panmunjom. In the border town, where the 1953 non-aggression pact was signed, the tension is palpable. The place is a symbol of the Korean tragedy which began with the decision taken in 1945 by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin at Yalta to divide the Korean Peninsula. Since then the border along the 38th parallel not only separates the two parts of the country but is also the symbol for the separation of families and countless individuals' fate.

The ground is covered with snow. Shots are heard. The North Korean army is on alert and is carrying out maneuvers. The real enemy is the U.S., the South Koreans are barely mentioned.

Once we arrive in the demilitarized zone, I am asked to step out of the car. The mood is somber, it's a cold spring day. On the streets there is no one, only small groups of marching soldiers. One can observe bare concrete pillars, a toilet shack, a souvenir shop and a large picture of a united Korea - allegorically entwined with another picture of two sisters. A friendly officer leads me into a room where a plastic mock-up shows the original army barracks and the border areas.

Then I am asked to proceed through a gate and back into the car, escorted by a jeep with three soldiers. 800 meters away are the barracks where the armistice was signed in 1953. We enter the building and come to a large room with two separate tables. The agreement is in the form of a book, covered in red cloth--but only partially so, since tourists have been stripping off the cloth as a souvenir, the guide explains. Now, the documents once signed by the North Korean leadership and recently disavowed, are protected by a plastic display case.

On a recent visit, Kim Jong-un exhibited a warlike mood, a soldier tells us. "If the United States attack us again, then I will defeat them and never again sign a ceasefire agreement", the young leader is alleged to have said. On the walls hang pictures, one showing the historic meeting between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korea's Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang in 2000.

Then it's back into the car, and we are led into a barracks where there were meetings between North and South Korean military take place. The street outside is lined with trees without leaves.

Here there is a fork in the road. On the right it heads towards the "bridge of no return" (it straddled the two Koreas and was so christened by the South Koreans), on the left it leads to the north side of the 38th parallel and to a huge building, four blue and two white barracks, of which half is in the north, half in the south. The square in front of the building is empty, there is no one to see, no visitor is now be allowed to come here. There is a strange feeling of doom, one has the impression that one wrong move could spell disaster.

Two North Korean soldiers guard the door and I'm ushered to the second floor. One soldier tells me that the U.S. and Japan were indeed the enemy, but that American and Japanese tourists would still be welcome.

Then I am asked why the Western media keep reporting so negatively about North Korea. Because they are free, I answer. The visit is over quickly, it's taken only 15 minutes before we're back in the car. I'm escorted by soldiers, this time there are four of them. Outside the demilitarized zone, one North Korean soldier, the Kalashnikov at the ready.

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Venezuelan Elections, 2013
Caracas, Venezuela
By Mais Istanbuli
15 Apr 2013

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has stated that he will not accept Chavista candidate Nicolas Maduro’s victory until a full audit of the election results is carried out. Capriles has slammed the ruling party with allegations of election fraud.

With the vote split almost equally, acting President Nicolas Maduro has won the Venezuelan presidential election, and is set to replace Hugo Chavez.

Venezuelan election authorities have announced that with 99.12% of the votes counted, Maduro is leading with 50.66 per cent of the votes cast. Capriles is dragging behind with 49.07 per cent.
With the vote split almost equally acting President Nicolas Maduro has won Venezuelan presidential election to replace Hugo Chavez.

Venezuelan election authorities have announced that with 99.12% of votes counted Maduro is leading with 50.66 per cent of the votes cast. Capriles is dragging behind with 49.07 per cent.

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Thailand Water Festival
Bangkok, Thailand
By Mais Istanbuli
14 Apr 2013

Songkran Festival, also known as the Thailand Water Festival, remains one of Thailand's most important celebrations. Celebrated as the traditional Thai New Year, people sprinkle water on their elders, and pay respect to images of Buddha.

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South Korean soldiers report for duty
Busan, South Korea
By Mais Istanbuli
07 Apr 2013

South Korean soldiers boarded a bus in Busan headed to their military base near Jinju, South Korea, on April 7, 2013. Tensions on the peninsula remain high amid North Korea and the ongoing joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States.

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Aleppo in Ashes
Aleppo, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
15 Mar 2013

The city of Aleppo during heavy close quarters fighting intimately following a Free Syrian Army unit as they battle against President Bashar al Assad's security forces street to street and building to building. LEE HARPER, Syria

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Homosexuality in Mongolia
Mongolia
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Apr 2013

Even though there are no official numbers, it is estimated that there are around 3000 people self defined homosexuals living in Mongolia. Most of whom live and congregate in the capital Ulan Bator. The rise in the number of nightclubs combined with improved internet access has helped the LGBT Mongol community.

Homosexuality officially does not exist in Mongolia. The terms 'homosexual', 'gay', 'lesbian' or 'transexual' literally do not appear in any law or state regulation.

Mongolia’s young homosexuals are fascinated with the culture of other countries like Japan, The United States or Europe. All they want is to travel abroad and start a new life.

“The secret history of the Mongols”, the first written book in Mongolian language, narrates the moment when Genghis Khan came to power. Article 48 of the Khan Law Codes dictates that homosexuality is punishable by death.

Despite the economic boom in Mongolia, some issues are treated the same way as they were eight hundred years ago and being homosexual, though not illegal, continues to be taboo.

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North Korea, DMZ Zone
North Korea
By Mais Istanbuli
12 Jan 2006

A view from the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, in Panmunjom, where soldiers are constantly monitoring the area.
Panmunjom is an abandoned village on the border between North and South Korea, where in 1953, the Korean Armistice Agreement that halted the Korean War was signed.

The images show the barracks located in demilitarized-zone (DMZ) area, which rests on the 38th parallel. It was created as part of the Korean Armistice Agreement between North Korea, the People's Republic of China, and United Nations Command forces in 1953. Troops of both countries were obliged to be 2 km away from this area.

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Long march by Heazot - E- Islam
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Apr 2013

In early February 2013, a large group of bloggers in Shahbag, Bangladesh protested against the lifetime prison sentencing of a war criminal. They demanded that the criminal be hung to his death as a punishment for blasphemous writing. Allama Muhammad Shadi, the principal of Hathajari Madrasha and the leader of a non-political organization Hefazot-E- Islam, has also called for a massive protest in Motijheel, Dhaka, Bangladesh, on April 6th 2013.

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Living in the Ruins of Ghaddafi's Com...
Tripoli, Libya
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Apr 2013

This photo essay is a portraiture of the settlers in Bab Al-Azizia compound in Tripoli. Around 400 people currently reside in the area. These settlers moved into the compound after having lost their homes in the revolution. Many also found themselves homeless after losing their jobs and being unable to pay rent. The government has not provided them with any financial aid or assistance, but has allowed them to stay in the compound.

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Fashion Week in Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By Mais Istanbuli
05 Apr 2013

Kyrgyzstan will be holding its 15th annual Fashion week this spring, where local designers will present their new collections, sell their products and promote their work to international experts in the industry. Every year, the winners of the Kyrgyzstan's fashion week are invited to international shows in Moscow, Amsterdam, Berlin and Osaka.

Kyrgyzstan’s sewing industry is the largest and the most developed segment of the country’s light industry. Despite the fact that the number of sewing factories in Kyrgyzstan has decreased since 2005, the volume of production has increased, raking in around $140 million. Products branded “Made in KG” are being exported to Russia, and are slowly entering the European market. Kyrgyzstan also has the potential to develop its textile industry, as it produces about 100 thousand tons of cotton annually. This cotton is currently being exported due to the lack of a developed processing industry inside the country. Kyrgyzstan's sewing industry continues to face many challenges, including a deficit in textile production, violations of labour rights, and working in a shadow economy.

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Yoga Sessions for Sex Workers in India
Durbar, India
By Mais Istanbuli
03 Apr 2012

Psalm Isadora, an American yoga instructor, is well known among the sex slum of Sonagachi in India. For three years, the woman has been teaching yoga to the female sex workers living in the slum and their children. While many of them say they like how yoga shapes their body which is appreciated by their clients - they also see yoga as a way to heal their minds from their life experiences.

Thousands of sex workers live in the slum. Most of the women have been working in the sex industry for years. Their children often become sex workers too.

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HOMELESSNESS IN TEXAS
Houston, Texas, USA
By Mais Istanbuli
11 Dec 2009

Approximately 79,000 people on any given day are homeless in Texas according to the National Survey Of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients. Also, NSHAPC report they believe in a year's time that approximately 265,000 Texans will experience homelessness.

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Enduring the Destruction of the 1992 ...
Cairo, Egypt
By Mais Istanbuli
16 Feb 2013

In 1992, after a devastating earthquake in Egypt, the houses on the cliffs of Al Mokatam and the surrounding areas began to gradually collapse. Without any assistance from the government, the local families whose only dreams were to be able to repair their property, struggle with poverty. They continue to work hard, despite living in difficult conditions, for a meager living that will allow them to survive.

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Underground Music Scene in Burma
Myanmar, Burma
By Mais Istanbuli
22 Mar 2013

The Punk music scene in Myanmar is not a new phenomenon, but is enjoying unprecedented freedom in the previously iron-fisted authoritarian society.

A few years back, having a tattoo, facial piercing or eccentric hair color was reason enough to be harassed by the police, say some from Myanmar’s Punk scene. Now, however, tolerance for the unconventional styles appears to be growing.

Myanmar’s punk scene began to develop around 2007. An alternative subculture in an authoritarian regime, the rebellious tunes gave a chance for young Burmese to protest against the government, which took power in 2010 in the wake of what was widely considered a fraudulent election.

Although the current government appears to be more accepting of the country’s alternative music scene, many in the Punk community remain disenchanted by the country’s transition to civil government after almost five decades of iron-fisted military rule. The life of a punk musician in Myanmar remains a struggle, far from the star-studded lives of their western idols.

Most band members work day jobs at minimum wage, saving for months in order to afford the instruments and clothing necessary for their craft. The Punk music scene remains tight knit -- it is common for members of various bands to share instruments, and even band members, for performances. Collaborations among different bands and groups are also widespread.

Many of these musicians are deeply devoted to spreading their music, and that of their favorite bands, to a wider Burmese audience. The Ramones, the Sex Pistols and Guns n Roses all remain relatively unknown to Myanmar’s audience, a fact the local music scene is trying to change. Punk musicians continue to struggle to find venues willing to accommodate their hardcore concerts. A glance at the lineup for the upcoming Water Festival shows that more traditional bands dominate the performances.

Two years ago, anyone wanting to produce vinyls had to go through the country’s censorship committee for approval. Many band members were on a censorship watch-list, and were forced to change lyrics or song contents in order to be published.

The situation has since changed. The committee has been dissolved and artists, officially, are free to publish whatever they want. Government's Institutions, however, may still find content inappropriate, and have the ability to sue the musicians, which may potentially lead to their detention. During the country’s official transition to democracy, the government continues to operate in a grey area, where actions can be judged in courts arbitrarily. This allows repression to take place in a justifiable legal framework.

Myanmar’s Punk musicians do not appear intimidated by the consequences their music may bring. While previously they may have faced imprisonment for performing live, the repressive nature of their society does appear to be fading.

The rocker’s biggest challenge is now to expand their audience in a very traditional society, and to compete against the established show-business which can count on high quality equipment, marketing and a built-in national audience.

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Garbage City
Cairo, Egypt
By Mais Istanbuli
17 Mar 2013

Mokattam village, or Garbage City, as it is known by the locals, is a slum settlement at the base of Mokattam Hill on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. The slum is populated by a community of workers called Zabbaleen, who personally collect, sort, re-use, re-sell or otherwise repurpose Cairo’s waste. Over 90 percent of the population is Coptic Christian.
This shocking photo essay reveals the reality of thousands of Egyptians who for generations have been living and working among mountains of stinking rubbish, with no access to running water, sewage, or electricity.

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Oil Extraction in Myanmar
Myanmar, Burma
By Mais Istanbuli
14 Mar 2013

Myanmar is one of the world's oldest oil producers, exporting its first barrel in 1853.

The oil and gas industry was nationalized after a socialist-leaning military regime seized power in 1962. As in many other countries, the State assumed ownership of the resources, either operating them itself or delegating this task to private operators, who were paid for their outlay and work in oil or gas under production sharing contracts.

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The Story of the Gold Mine in India
Karnataka, India
By Mais Istanbuli
10 Mar 2013

India’s abandoned Mangalur mine has been closed for 20 years, however, its toxic waste continues to haunt the lives of those inhabiting surrounding villages.

In Kanataka’s Raichur District, mine tailings continue to be dumped on farmland, rendering it not only unfertile, but also poisonous to residents. Tests on soil samples have shown this practice has effectively made the soil unsafe for use for at least 25 years.

Economic and social sectors are not the only areas suffering as a result of the toxic dumping. Locals ominously refer to the area as the 'cyanide' mountain, owing to the large amounts of sodium cyanide present in the tailings.

Chandibai, a 70-year old woman from Kiradali Tanda village, has developed deep lesions on her hands because of arsenic in the local drinking water.

Thirty-eight year old Kishan Chauhan has also been highly affected by the poisonous contents of the water. He lost his leg to gangrene after a lesion, caused by arsenic poisoning, became infected. He has since migrated over 500 kilometers away to Dodamargh, Savantwadi in Belgaum, where he earns 200 Rs (around 4 dollars) per week breaking stones. Despite his handicap, he has no choice but to work in hard labor to support his wife and two young daughters.

Dozens of such cases continue to emerge from Kiradali Tanda, where an independent study has shown has shown that water from village wells contains around 303 micrograms of arsenic per liter. The World Health Organization currently cites 10 micrograms per liter as the maximum acceptable level for human exposure.

India’s Mangalur mine, just four kilometers from the arsenic-ridden village of Kiradalli Tandi, originally began as a colonial project of Britain’s empire in the late 19th century. Karnataka’s government briefly reopened the mine nearly 70 years later, until flooding again forced it to close in 1994.

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Death and Poverty in Guatemala
San Jorge La Laguna , Solola, Guatemala
By Mais Istanbuli
03 Jan 2012

Unlike many other Latin American countries, Guatemala is still at an early stage of its demographic and epidemiological transitions with a young, rapidly growing, and essentially rural population.

In Latin America, Guatemala is one of the worst performers in terms of health outcomes. Compared to the rest of the region, the country has a high infant mortality rate and low life expectancy at birth.

Major causes of death include treatable and contagious diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, cholera, malnutrition, and tuberculosis. For a large section of the Guatemalans indeed, access to healthcare services is difficult. This is mostly due to both supply- and demand-side constraints, the latter being particularly important in rural areas.

However, some reforms have been made in the health sector. On the institutional side, health is now one of the pilot ministries that work on decentralizing financial management under the Integrated System for Health Care (SIAS program). Public spending has also shifted toward preventive care, a key measure to treat the health problems of the poor.

Despite these efforts though, no significant improvement has been observed in spending and health outcomes. On top of that, the targeting of public expenditure on health remains inappropriate (disproportionate?) and mostly benefits the highest quintiles. Based on the type of facility, public spending on hospitals is by far the more regressive.

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Morocco on two wheels
Morocco
By Mais Istanbuli
28 Feb 2013

What places, what parts of the world come straight to mind when you think of bicycles and cycling? Our minds drift almost automatically towards the Netherlands, especially Amsterdam, and maybe alsoDenmark. Well, certainly not towards the Arabic world. Traditionally there is no “cycling culture” there, bikes have a rather negative image and are not socially accepted, especially amongst women. But then there is Morocco. Morocco is teeming with bicycles. Older and poorer Moroccans cycle because it is a cheap means of transport. Young people cycle because it is cool. Women cycle because it is practical. Quite rapidly cycling is becoming an inherent part of the local culture. People cycle to work, to school, to run errands, for pleasure. Somehow even cycling in long traditional djellabas is not an issue, even though at first it seems to be verging on impossible. Bikes are everywhere. Everybody uses them. Bike workshops pop up on every corner. Morocco is on two wheels.
Text written by: Anna Blasiak

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Fashion Week Istanbul 2013 - Part II
Istanbul, Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
15 Mar 2013

Designers, Models, Make-Up Artists & Spectators Gather For Tuvanam Fashion Show At Istanbul's Fashion Week 2013.

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Al Zaatari Refugee Camp
Mafraq, Jordan
By Mais Istanbuli
29 Dec 2012

Syrian Families at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

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YEMENI CHILDREN IN PRISON
Sana'a, Yemen
By Mais Istanbuli
04 Sep 2012

An exclusive report on child prisoners that are awaiting execution in Yemen. Only five countries - Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen - continue the execution of minors void of international law which “prohibits, without exception, the execution of individuals for crimes committed before they turn eighteen.”

The story evolves around now eighteen years-old Nadim al-Azaazi arrested three years ago on murder charges. The teenager endured beatings and interrogation at his local prison station before transferring to the child prison in Sanaa.

Having gained access to the prison the reporters reveal seventy-seven minors, aged between fifteen to eighteen years-of-age, thirty-five of which face execution. The sentencing of Nadim has been delayed after the inmates went on hunger strike in solidarity with Nadim’s pending death penalty.

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MAHA SHIVARATRI
Kathmandu, Nepal
By Mais Istanbuli
10 Mar 2013

Some footage in Pashupatinath (Nepal) during Maha Shivaratri. A lot of footage available, interviews of saddhus (with translation)

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BETWEEN THE TWO STONES
Darbnik, Armenia
By Mais Istanbuli
07 Dec 2012

Upon making their dream return to their motherland, Armenian-Iraqis did not anticipate the problems they would face. They made the decision to return to Armenia from a small separated community in Baghdad after the US-led invasion of their adopted country in 2004.
Instead of the open-armed heartfelt welcome they expected, they were met by difficulties in communicating with the locals, making relationships and finding jobs. They needed to pay for gas, electricity, and basic food supplies, something they weren’t used to because they were free in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

10 Armenian-Iraqi families live in Darbnik, a village 8km from Yerevan, where 90 percent of the population is composed of refugees. The village has a history of housing displaced people. In Soviet times it was predominantly populated by Azerbaijanis. The latter then left at the start of the Armenian-Azeri conflict in the 1980s, leaving their village to Armenians who under the same circumstances had fled Azerbaijan.

The families have been living in Darbnik’s former agricultural college, which was renovated by the UN. The village is devoid of any churches, drug stores, or markets. Even normal transportation is absent.

Most Armenian-Iraqis have created a small Armenian-esque Baghdad in their apartments, saving memories with photographs and other items brought from their former homes in Iraq.

They often spend their time watching news or soaps from their adopted land on cable TV.

Like before, they still live in a closed community. Being neither Iraqi nor Armenian they are living, as they say in Armenia, “a life between the stones”. But unlike in their previous lives, there is no idealized motherland to yearn for.

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DEIR EZZOR, SYRIA
Dayr Al Zawr, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
10 Mar 2013

Two years ago a pro-democracy movement spread across Syria in the first heady days of the Arab Spring before turning into an armed uprising after Assad unleashed a brutal crackdown.

More than 70,000 people have died since March 15, 2011, a million fled the country and millions more are displaced at home and battling hardships for their very survival.

Deir Ezzor, a once thriving oil hub on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria, has become a practical ghost town.

Some 200,000 people of the original 750,000 residents still remain in the city, and the province of the same name is about 80 percent controlled by the rebels.

Assad's forces pound rebel positions in the city itself nearly every day with bombs and artillery.

In the city centre, the landscape is desolate. Buildings are riddled with the scars of shelling and gunfire, homes devastated, the streets covered with rubble.

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FLASH MOB IN KUALA LUMPUR
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By Mais Istanbuli
08 Mar 2013

Malaysians call for an end to violence against women. Hundreds of people danced to the song "Break the Chain" in a Flash Mob organised by Body Shop staff in Kuala Lumpur on International Women's Day, 2013.

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Renovations in the Main Stadium for t...
Sao Paulo, Brazil
By Mais Istanbuli
09 Mar 2013

The Stadium Arena - Itaquerão, which will host the opening of the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo, is undergoing renovations.

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THE ILLUSION OF AZERBAIJAN
Baku, Azerbaijan
By Mais Istanbuli
21 May 2012

when you hop in a taxi from the airport and drive along the massive high way towards the “windy City” Baku you see building upon building half way done. Standing as skeletons side by side as grim monuments of the wealth and prosperity the country is undergoing.

The country’s president Ilham Aliyev and the government aims to convince the world that they are an emerging democracy with respect for its population and human rights. It has spent millions on hiring companies for PR and engaging former European top politicians to speak on their behalf.

But the facts show Azerbaijan as a nation with severe issues like massive corruption, poverty and a disregard for human rights. Examples are; multiple arrests, often violently, during peaceful protests. Forced evictions of families from their homes. Harassing and imprisoning independent journalists. A basic disregard for free speech.
In creating a toxic environment of paranoia and fear the leaders of Azerbaijan are violating civil rights.
The capitol is an awesome show city with massive boulevards and elaborate buildings and immense beauty.
Though if you try and go to the outskirts of the city you stumble upon another landscape and poverty becomes an integrated part of the scenery. The wealth of the nation does not trickle down from top to bottom.
If you lead a quiet life and do your job raise a family and do not ask question you are well of and most people do. But the country’s leaders do not tolerate too critical look at themselves from anyone. The fact is that the people of Azerbaijan do not have the liberty to live a free life.
The Land of Fire, which is Azerbaijan’s nickname borders on Iran, Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, and the Caspian Sea. It has an enormous diverse nature ranging from desert to mountain chains and underneath it all oil and natural gas are found in large quantities.
Azerbaijan was a part of the former Soviet Union but gained independence in 1991. A formal constitution was signed and put into effect on November 12, 1995

The capitol of Baku is scattered with buildings like this all over the city. The big boom in the economy has made it all possible.
But many of these elaborate financial gestures are not inhabited. According to Max Tucker Amnesty International’s Azerbaijan spokesman it is partly because people cannot afford to live there and partly because the large building sites in some cases are used to extract money from the government to private companies often owned by a secretary from the government. One of the examples of ways corruption is a central part of the way business is done here.

If the government needs space for new construction, as it was the case with the Eurovision venue, Crystal Hall, it is not uncommon that people are forced to sell their houses at very low prices. The houses are then demolished. If people speak out or refuse to sell, they are harassed or the house is demolished with their things still in it. In some cases violence is used to get people out of the way.

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THE DAY OF ASHOURA IN BANGLADESH
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By Mais Istanbuli
25 Nov 2012

The Day of Ashura is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Mourning of Muharram.
It is commemorated by Shi'a Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH (in AHc: October 9 and in AHt: October 10, 680 CE).

For Shi'as, commemoration of Ashura is not a festival, but rather a sad event, while Sunni Muslims view it as a victory God has given to his prophet, Moses . This victory is the very reason, as Sunni Muslims believe, Muhammad mentioned when recommending fasting on this day.Sunnis also commemorate this day as the day of victory for
Islam. The martyrdom of Hussain, gave new life to the message of Islam. Sunnis gather at the mosques, to remember the noble sacrifice made by Hussain and his companions, hold seminars and take out procession in the remembrance of this great martyr of Islam.
For Shi'as, it is a period of intense grief and mourning. Mourners, congregate at a Mosque for sorrowful, poetic recitations such as marsiya, noha, latmiya and soaz performed in memory of the martyrdom of Husayn

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ALI ABDULLAH SALEH MUSEUM
Sana'a, Yemen
By Mais Istanbuli
02 Mar 2013

Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has opened a museum dedicated to himself in a wing of the $60 million mosque named after the deposed leader. Saleh was forced from power in 2011 during the Arab Spring after Yemen was caught in the wave of protests which wracked the Middle East.

Most of the 2,000 or so items which are displayed in the museum were given to Saleh during his 33-year rule of the country including an antique weapon from President George Bush Snr. and a painting from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Yet the center piece of the museum is a display of some of the items which Ali Abdullah Saleh was wearing when a there was an attempted assassination against him in 2011.

Mr. Al-Basha who has curated the museum and refers to Mr. Saleh as "Al-Zaeem" or "the leader" said that the inclusion of the singed trousers was for Yemen's youth who needed to know their country's history and that the former president was proud to display his burnt pants as a sign of his ongoing

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CHILDREN OF AGENT ORANGE
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
By Mais Istanbuli
18 Jan 2011

According to the United Nations, Agent Orange and its active ingredient dioxin is "one of the most toxic compounds known to humans.". It is claimed that children born to parents exposed to Agent Orange can be stillborn or born with birth defects, including skin disease, mental illness, and deformities. After decades of Vietnam War, effects of Agent Orange still runs silently through generations.

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MAASAI COMMUNITY, KISERIA
Kiserian, Kenya
By Mais Istanbuli
27 Feb 2013

Meeting with members of the Maasai community near Kiserian town, at Olooltepes Picnic site

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Kenyan elections: Coalition for Refor...
Nairobi, Kenya
By Mais Istanbuli
04 Mar 2013

Supporters of political parties rally on the day of elections, Nairobi, Kenya.

Thousands of people gathered in central Nairobi on Saturday to hear Kenya's presidential frontrunners offer their final pleas on the last day of campaigning.
Supporters of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta dressed in the party's red colors met in the capital's Uhuru Park.

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KILL ME QUICK
Nairobi, Kenya
By Mais Istanbuli
23 Feb 2013

Changaa, meaning "Kill Me Quick", is a potent drink made and sold in slums throughout Nairobi, Kenya.
The potent drink is a concoction of jet fuel and embalming fluid both proven to be deadly ingredients resulting in the death of 130 people and blinding 20.

Understandably, the ingredients would be considered hard to come by but are purchased at Nairobi’s industrial hub and at 2 fully serviced airports. The jet fuel and embalming fluid speed up the fermentation process in order to shift more stock at a faster rate.

The operation is rumoured to be run by the much feared ‘Mungiki gang’ as well as by Kenyan and Indian businessmen whom never enter the slums but introduce the deadly drink with “runners”.

Slum dwellers opt for the drink as it is the cheaper alternative, a shot is sold for as little as one cent. The cheap high is consumed predominantly by young girls (as seen in the images) as well as men and children. Police turn a blind eye to the practice via bribes and are often seen harassing brewers that have not paid up.

Nairobi locals resent the consumption of “Kill Me Quick” in the slums yet have sympathy for those that need escapism from their day to day lives by this cheap high. They also believe that it offers new trade, employment and livelihoods to those that brew and sell it. Seeing people passed out on the street has now become an accepted daily part of their lives.

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THE JUNGLE AFGHAN MIGRANTS IN EUROPE
Calais, France
By Mais Istanbuli
05 Apr 2010

Fort Europe part 1 - Calais/France
An estimated number of five million illegal migrants live and work in the European Union. A number growing with at least 500.000 each year, despite great efforts by the EU, and in particularly the border states Spain, Greece and Italy, to prevent them from entering the EU.
In an area in the outskirts of Calais which goes by the name “the jungle", Afghan children and adolescents as young as 12 years of age, wash themselves in the waste water of the local factory.
They seek shelter and try to keep warm under blankets in the bushes and in tents donated by local charity organizations. It has been a very long and harsh winter. Should the migrants by any chance have assumed to have reached a peaceful place to rest after fleeing the war in Afghanistan, they have very soon been met by a quiet different reality. In the jungle of Calais the Afghan boys also seek shelter from a different power: the local riot police.

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People in Dhaka celebrating the death...
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By Mais Istanbuli
28 Feb 2013

A special war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh has sentenced the leader of an Islamic political party to death for crimes stemming from the nation's 1971 fight for independence, a politically charged decision that sparked violent protests.

The Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee was found guilty of eight counts out of 20 involving mass killings, rape and atrocities during the nine-month war against Pakistan, the prosecutor Syed Haider Ali said. The verdict was announced by the presiding tribunal judge ATM Fazle Kabir in a packed courtroom.

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PALESTINIANS RALLY OUTSIDE MEGIDDO PR...
Israel
By Mais Istanbuli
21 Feb 2013

Some 100 Palestinians gathered outside Offer Prison, in solidarity with Palestinian security prisoners holding a hunger strike. Demanded the release of the prisoners and promised to continue fighting with that goal in mind. Israeli Police are on the ground to keep order.

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Jennyfer Ayat : SLAVE IN KIREKA'S STO...
Kampala, Uganda
By Mais Istanbuli
20 Feb 2012

Kireka-Kampala township-Uganda-East Africa-February 26th-2013
Following on the footsteps of great many people before her, Jennyfer Ayat made a daring and courageous decision to escape the controls of sexual enslavement or perhaps even death, from the followers of warlord Joseph Kony by braving the long march of Gulu Walk. It seems ironic when in essence Jennyfer Ayat is escaping one form of brutal slavery for another.
Over the past twenty years the echoes of pain injected by the Kony terror, have caused women like Jennyfer Ayat, of Uganda to make hard and testing choices to either live in constant fear of death for themselves, their children and loved ones, or harvest bravery from the fountain sitting deep within to escape and live in another form of fear. One where the desperation of making an exodus of living in poverty and in slavery has become invisible to corporations, employing workers at the lowest, most discriminatory wages, robbing them of their human rights and the fundamental freedom to choose, let alone their voiceless whisper vindicating their right of a just deserved human dignity.
It is shocking to observe that children born in this state of bondage; continue to live a life journey of captivity and slave labor, long after their parents’ escape from the Kony violations against humanity. A young 36 year old Jennyfer Ayat carrying a hammer on her shoulder, as if this chunk of iron embellished with a long, heavy pole made of rough wood has become Jennyfer’s best play mate and soul companion. The unimaginable strength of Jennyfer Ayat’s body bears resemblance to a rare piece of priceless sculpture: but this is not the romanticism of African life, this is an image evoking a story of human survival and absolute determination; the cruel reality of working for virtually naught, for each jerry-can loaded with crushed stones and carried airborne by the strong in the quarry, is worth a mere 100 Ugandan shillings. Considering there are some 2250 Ugandan shillings to a dollar in conversion, and many hours of hardship labor to a filled jerry-can, how many more veins must bleed dry for every dignified being to continue living under a dollar a day, while corporations rip offensive benefits through such human abuse and exploitation?
Jennyfer Ayat is seen on many occasions with hammer in hand pounding the rock, her frame is small but her strength is heroic. There are no traces of hatred in her expression, but a breed of devotion that is disturbing to the more fortunate audience, exuding an acceptance of life as it is, and as it will always be. But, it is in Jennyfer’s strength of spirit and will to survive that has kept her and her family breathing their harsh journey. Each frame illustrates the Inferno of an ongoing documentary project called “BUKEDDE”, a word in Luganda, the main local language of Uganda, which means “ONE MORE DAY” to identify that “it is morning again”. It captures the core of Jennyfer’s character and high moral fiber, her moments of tenderness with her little adopted baby, Ivonne whose aura radiates a Madonna like semblance. She cradles the child gently inside their humble home, illuminated by soft candle light in the cold African nightfall. The compositions also encapsulate the private moments of prayer with her son, both clutching their only rosary, recorded through the faint light radiating from a set of azure candles. These are intimate moments she shared; giving every one of us the only thing she has left to give, her self existence.
This moving photographic journey introduces us to Jennyfer, a strong African woman; showing glimpses of her daily life, her hopes and dreams, the reverence and aspirations for her precious children. The moments captured, display the altruism of unconditional love, the importance of small details in life, the sharing of work scented with nobility, and the intimate exchange of profound glances in prayer. The daily trivia of Jennyfer’s life in Kireka are but a brief preview into the depths of her soul captured through the eyes and the lenses, amidst a rollercoaster of emotions as witness of such narrative. They speak of hardship, fear and faith and highlight the coldhearted blindness of governments, institutions and corporations.
This is “BUKEDDE”, it is morning again…
The pictures shows Erik, the stone quarry "master boss", where Jennyfer Ayat and hundreds of slaves live in an inhuman conditions.

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FEAR AND AMMO IN TEXAS
Dallas, Texas
By Mais Istanbuli
01 Sep 2010

The Texas Survivalists is a militia group operating in the suburbs of Dallas, a mile from a middle school softball stadium. For them, bad times are coming: economic collapse, overnight inflation, nuclear war, epidemic, invasion and fuel shortages. The Survivalists – maybe a dozen in all, men and women in their early 20s to late 50s such as Trust Harold Rosenbaum, a Vietnam veteran, Ralph Severe, an armed security guard and Patricia, who is recovering from breast cancer – are steps ahead of most. They are combat training, storing food, stockpiling ammo, planning escape routes, packing survival kits, making soap and, most of all, assuring themselves that they don’t need another human alive to survive.

Their preparations can seem extreme to an outsider. They always pack a pistol and a supply of hollow-point rounds to cause maximum injury. They hide homemade knives around their living rooms. (Under the bookshelf is a favorite spot.) They place bug-out bags the size of coffee tables in the hallway, in preparation to run. Their survival kits bulge with dried food, clothes, ammunition and seeds - everything to start a new life. They have ceased living with day-to-day annoyances. They leave dishes dirty in the sink (Why wash when tomorrow's not coming?), let dust settle on the television, and seem oblivious to possessions piled in disarray on bare floors. Regular housework seems pointless when you're preparing to escape a collapsing city at a moment's notice.

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THE LETTERPRESS OF MOGADISHU
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Mais Istanbuli
01 Oct 2012

A print shop in the Somali capital tells the story of the country's two decades of turmoil -- and rebirth.
In a tiny, damp, oil-soaked cellar tucked behind one of Mogadishu's bullet-pocked central streets, fragile remnants of a city's survival clutter the rickety shelves. Their location, hidden just beneath Mogadishu's shelled façade, is perhaps their only reason for survival.

For 45 years, Daha Printing Press has accumulated an inked archive of Mogadishu's intricate, vibrant and violent political and social history. As governments, dictators, warlords, and militias battled for control of the streets above, Daha operated like a well-oiled machine, printing for all who walked in their door. Everybody, it seems, has something to print.

"Even warlords needed to collect taxes," Liban Egal, the son of Daha's original owner, asserts.

Customs declaration forms for Mogadishu's bustling port, still written in Italian from early post-colonial days, sit freshly pressed on the table; they are being repurposed for Somalia's new government. Tax collection slips and Central Bank account ledgers from the military rule of Mohamed Siad Barre -- whose ousting in 1991 launched two decades of civil war -- litter the stock room. Business cards, like that of notorious warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, who was the target of a failed American assassination attempt (which in turn resulted the infamous 'Black Hawk Down' incident), fill old wooden drawers. Even United Nations Development Program reports from the 1980's hide under crumbling shelves.

Originally opened in central Mogadishu in 1967, Daha Printing Press was founded by 25 year-old Abdi Egal Hassan. Hassan took skills he mastered studying printmaking in Germany through a scholarship, and built a thriving enterprise.

By 1969, General Mohamed Siad Barre staged a successful military coup and took control of Somalia. He experimented with Chinese-influenced 'scientific socialism,' and in 1971 all private sector workers became government employees. All large businesses became government businesses. Daha was shut down.

Barre eventually switched sides during the Cold War, aligning with the US. In 1983 Abdi was able to reopen Daha Printing Press. The small letterpress shop has remained unchanged in location, machinery and employees, ever since.

Liban Egal, Abdi Egal Hassan's son, currently owns Daha. Liban, who grew up working the printing press after school, has recently returned to Mogadishu after spending more than twenty years abroad. In addition to resuming work at the press, he is founding the First Somali Bank -- Somalia's first since the collapse of the country's Central Bank in 1991 -- along with Somalia Wireless, a mobile internet company.

With Mogadishu quivering on the edge of sustained peace for the first time in two decades, Kasim Shiek Ahmed, whose family has labored behind the machines for 3 generations, and Liban are ready to welcome the arrival of Somalia's first real government in as many years. On August 20th, the Federal Parliament of Somalia was inaugurated, and the Federal Government of Somalia, the first permanent central government since 1991, replaced the Transitional Federal Government. On September 16th, Hassan Sheik Mohamud, a political activist and academic, was sworn in as Somalia's newest President.

"As soon as this new government begins, that's when we begin," exclaims Liban "Every Ministry will need some kind of paper."

The old Heidelberg printing press, its slickly oiled gears churning beneath the shell-shocked streets, will also press on. "We can't forget this machine," Kasim expresses with a wide grin. "It's like family

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JAFFNA'S ABANDONED HOUSES
Kayts, Sri Lanka
By Mais Istanbuli
03 Feb 2013

Jaffna has been the cultural heart of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka for centuries. Many of its houses were abandoned during the 1980s insurgent uprising and military occupation. Extensive damage, expulsion and depopulation occurred in this region. Many people had to abandon their lives and homes and seek new lives as immigrants in other countries. Their houses lie empty but with the new drive by the Sri Lankan government to improve the conditions in Jaffna, some of the houses might once again become occupied.
The island of Kayts; just off the Jaffna Peninsula and where most of these houses are situated, was the scene of a massacre that took place on the night of May 13, 2006 in the villages of Allaipiddy, Puliyankoodal, and Vangalady. In all three incidents, the Sri Lankan Navy entered homes and opened fire on the residents. The deadliest incident took place in Allaipiddy, where nine people, including two children, died. Three more were killed in Puliyankoodal and one in Vangalady. The killings took place two days after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched a suicide assault on a naval convoy in which 18 sailors died. At least 150 people fled Allaipiddy after the massacre with many more following.
Most of the houses lay on the outskirts and country side around the mainly Christian villages on the island of Kayts, some buildings date back to the colonial era.

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EL RANCHO
Ghadras, Lebanon
By Mais Istanbuli
26 Aug 2012

As the crowds gather in Thrill Town under the hot summer sun, Johnny Hotshot, the head performer begins his show. “I need a volunteer” he calls out in his American accent to the scared and skeptical audience. After commandeering a child he preforms rope tricks, lassoing misbehaving children to the delight of their camera-snapping parents.

It could be a scene from any western dude ranch, though this ranch is in the heart Lebanon.

El Rancho, a theme park and fully working ranch sits in the Ghodras hills of Northern Lebanon, less than 40 minutes away from bustling Beirut. On an average Sunday Christian and Muslim Lebanese families, as well as visitors from Iraq, Iran and the Gulf come to visit the only ranch in the Middle East.

Cowboy culture is not native to Lebanon or the Middle East but became popular as a novelty after exposure on television and though movies. Many guests have never been to a ranch, or ridden a horse which is apparent after a series of families peek at the horses and then retire to brunch.

“Are you a real cowboy?” A little girl asks Johnny Hotshot, the head performer at El Rancho. Looking the part he wears cowboy boots, spurs, and a collection of guns around his waist. “OF COURSE” he shouts and fires a shot in the air with his cap gun. Johnny and a cast of several other American’s are flown out to the ranch on monthly contracts to give El Rancho an authentic feel and to amuse its well-heeled guests.

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PROTEST AGAINST SHIITE MUSLIMS GENOCI...
Karachi, Pakistan
By Mais Istanbuli
18 Feb 2013

Shiite Muslims in Pakistan have once against staged sit-in protest across the country in solidarity with martyrs of Quetta, February 18, 2013, Photo by Yasir Kazmi, Karachi, Pakistan.

The protests in Quetta have refused to bury the bodies of 87 martyrs up to the fulfillment of demands.
In Karachi the protests have staged sit-in protest in Malir-15, Numaish Chowrangi, Five Star Chowrangi, Abbas Town, Incholi and Gulistan e Johar areas of the City.
They families of martyrs have demanded, the city should be handed over to the Army, targeted operation against the Deobandi-led militants, the government officials involve in killings of Shia Muslims should be sacked and their trial in courts should come in orders.

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FOOD DESERT
New York City, United States
By Mais Istanbuli
14 Feb 2013

Food deserts are defined as areas in major cities in which residents must walk 12 blocks or more in order to access fresh produce. Such areas exist in major American cities including New York and Seattle, and have been proven to have a direct relationship with higher obesity and diabetes rates.

With a lack of readily available fruits and vegetables, paired with the allure of cheaper snacks such as chips and soda, lower income American families are increasingly turning to junk food as their main food staples. This problem is heightened when vegetables cannot be accessed throughout entire neighborhoods, especially when families cannot easily access a vehicle or public transport to do their grocery shopping.

A number of initiatives have been taken in major American cities in an attempt to address this wide-reaching problem. A significant one is the New York City Green Cart Initiative – around 500 food trucks park in food deserts around New York city and sell fresh, affordable and healthy produce. Some have been highly successful, while others have failed – all is dependent on personal entrepreneurship, building community relationships and finding prime spots to park and sell.

Another such project is the Healthy Bodegas initiative – referring to the small corner stores that are plentiful in New York City, most famous for selling beer, magazines, cigarettes, and various junky snacks. Again, with healthier options increasing in price, and unemployment rates remaining high, these small corner stores are often families’ only food source in a community – especially if they do not have access to a car. The Healthy Bodegas initiative has city officials working with small business owners in order to bring healthier options, including fruits, vegetables, healthy juices and whole wheat bread and pastas into Bodegas, in order to increase access to healthier options.

We propose you a photo essay that will illustrate New York City's food deserts and how the lack of healthy products in some disadvantaged neighborhoods affect the life of its inhabitants (including short interviews with shop owners, families, etc). Through the photographs, we will also illustrate the work of organizations such as the Healthy Bodegas and New York City Green Cart initiatives.

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KILL ME QUICK .
Nairobi, Kenya
By Mais Istanbuli
26 Jan 2013

Changaa, meaning "Kill Me Quick", is a potent drink made and sold in slums throughout Nairobi, Kenya.
The potent drink is a concoction of jet fuel and embalming fluid both proven to be deadly ingredients resulting in the death of 130 people and blinding 20.

Understandably, the ingredients would be considered hard to come by but are purchased at Nairobi’s industrial hub and at 2 fully serviced airports. The jet fuel and embalming fluid speed up the fermentation process in order to shift more stock at a faster rate.

The operation is rumoured to be run by the much feared ‘Mungiki gang’ as well as by Kenyan and Indian businessmen whom never enter the slums but introduce the deadly drink with “runners”.

Slum dwellers opt for the drink as it is the cheaper alternative, a shot is sold for as little as one cent. The cheap high is consumed predominantly by young girls (as seen in the images) as well as men and children. Police turn a blind eye to the practice via bribes and are often seen harassing brewers that have not paid up.

Nairobi locals resent the consumption of “Kill Me Quick” in the slums yet have sympathy for those that need escapism from their day to day lives by this cheap high. They also believe that it offers new trade, employment and livelihoods to those that brew and sell it. Seeing people passed out on the street has now become an accepted daily part of their lives.

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WOMEN'S PRISON IN ISRAEL
Ramle, Israel
By Mais Istanbuli
15 Jul 2011

I've been given the opportunity to enter one of the most hidden corners of the Israeli society. Once a week for about three months I was allowed to get inside "Neve Tirza prison" and document closely
the life in the only women's prison in Israel. Almost 180 women are imprisoned in five different sections. Most of the women serve their second or more term, return upon release to the same places
and repeat the same mistakes, trapped in a vicious cycle. As the only women's prison in Israel, it detains women who were convicted for minor crimes together with women who serve life sentence.

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The Haitian LP Street Gang
Cite Soleil, Haiti
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Feb 2013

The Haitian LP Street gang is one of many gangs controlling the various slums found through out the capital Port-au-Prince in Haiti. Some gangs are more violent then others. The most hardcore ones control their turf using intimidation and violence with guns smuggled to Haiti via the US or South America. Murders are a common site in the Haitian capital where most of the 2.5 million souls live in poverty. Certain parts of Port-au-Prince, like Citee du Soleil are as dangerous as the famous favelas of Rio.
Basha, the leader of the LP Street gang is not just a gang leader, but also a community organizer. As the Haitian government has mostly failed its people after the earthquake of 2010, Basha and his 16 strong groups of soldiers have taken upon themselves to help the people living within his zone of influence. His second hand man, Sam, helps him with all tasks that might be needed to assure the gang’s survival. From acquiring weapons to drugs, or taking cuts on the profit from the local whorehouse, the LP street gang, in that sense resembles many of the other gangs involved in crime in Port-au-Prince. However Basha and his main soldier, Sam, who grew up in Florida, have decided to also help locals but forcing politicians to listen to them.
Basha will spend time organizing meetings with ministers to open their eyes on the current situation people are living in. To this date, tenth of thousands of Haitians still living in tent cities spread out around the capital, adding to the already deep fracture of Haitian society. LP gang members go around the various camps in their zone of influence breaking up fights, easing tensions, or trying to have bathrooms and electricity built in the camps. With some success, the LP street gang has managed to assert its authority on the people.
Other gangs in the capital also control various parts of the capital, with Citee du Soleil, being the most dangerous of all the slums in Port-au-Prince. Citee du Soleil, known for its violence, and gun battles, is also a meeting ground for gangs if discussions are needed. In 2010, right after the earthquake UN troops battled their way inside the area to flush out gang soldiers, killing dozens in the process. Today, the gangs have taken control of the Citee du Soleil slums once more. The LP street gang have, overtime, establish strong connections with the though gangs controlling the area. Deals are made, information is passed long, making sure, and everyone gets a cut of the action.
The LP street gang lead by Basha and his man Sam, are hopeful that Haiti’s future will be bright, but as tensions are rising once more within the small nation, the gangs are ready at all times to make their mark with the use of weapons and extortions. The LPs are no exceptions

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THE SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF THE YEMENI ...
Sana'a, Yemen
By Mais Istanbuli
11 Feb 2013

On the two-year anniversary of Yemen’s Youth Revolution, Yemeni women, men, and children gathered on the streets to memorialize the day of their revolution against Ali Abdullah Saleh the former president of Yemen.

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PACIFICATION
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
By Mais Istanbuli
11 Jan 2012

In preparation for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro launched a security program called “UPP,” Police Pacification Unit.
UPPs are permanent police posts installed in the “favelas,” the sprawling shantytowns that house most of the city’s 1.2 million residents. Their mission is to eliminate drug trafficking and organized crime within these communities.
While many believe the UPPs have helped to quell the violence and bring prosperity to the favelas, others see the pacification program as a temporary cover-up to Rio’s problems with social disparity.

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MALIAN FACES
Mali
By Mais Istanbuli
05 Oct 2012

As the conflict in Mali continues to unfold, many Malians have been displaced as their villages came under rebel control. This photo essay by contributor Tanya Bindra is made of portraits of the displaced from the villages of Gao, Timbuktu, and Meneka to give an intimate look to those who have become refugees in their own country by the conflict.

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MALI’S DISPLACED
Mali
By Mais Istanbuli
16 Sep 2012

More than 450,000 people have left their homes since fighting broke out between Tuareg rebel forces and the Malian army earlier this year in January. According to the U.N. Refugee agency, 265,000 former residents of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao, cities now under the occupation of Islamists linked to Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, travelled to refugee camps in Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso, while 185,000 more have been internally displaced.
Many of the displaced live with extended families and friends. Others live under whatever shelter they can find. The sudden influx of people is exacerbating an already rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation as food prices continue to rise and health services decline.
They are in need of adequate shelter, food and clean water and complain that they cannot find work. Young people want to study but can’t afford private education. Light-skinned Tuaregs are fearful of being associated with the MNLA and feel discriminated against in Mali’s southern regions.
Although they miss their homes, have found the strength to rebuild some aspects of their old lives and support those struggling around them. Women with babies on their backs carry vegetables and spices to the market each day to bring in meager amounts of money. Families, often separated, keep connected to each other through phone calls. Neighbors share their mosquito netting with newly displaced on their exposed rooftop sleeping quarters.
As the rest of world focuses on the geopolitical consequences of Mali becoming the so-called new “Afghanistan” and the horrors of occupation under Islamist rule, the struggles and resistances of the displaced receive little attention.
Yet these are the people that know firsthand the reality of Mali today. These are the people that know what it is like to lose a home without the hope of return.

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CAMEL WRESTLING IN TURKEY
Istanbul, Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
02 Feb 2013

Both a tourist attraction and a local pastime in Turkey, camel wrestling is a time-old competition celebrated annually nearly every weekend in the Aegean region from November until March. The tournaments traditionally coincide with the olive harvest. Some camel owners explained that in the past, camels were used to help transport the fruit from the orchards. The biggest and most popular camel wrestling festival is held in Selcuk, near the ancient Greek ruins of Ephesus.

On one cool morning, Mustafa Can led a stubborn camel to be loaded onto a waiting truck. From the stable in the Aegean coast town of Burhaniye, a dozen camel were being transported to nearby Pelitkoy, where an annual camel wrestling tournament is held. Villagers and fans packed into stadium chairs, set up barbecue grills and tables in truck beds surrounded the arena in order to enjoy the action. The annual camel wrestling tournament is the most exciting day of the year in Pelitkoy, and everyone from the local mayors, to farm workers, to Roma musicians, have crowded around a small arena to watch the action. More than 100 camels and their owners from all over the region converge to practice the sport which is Turkish is called "deve guresi" and is believed to have brought to Turkey more than 2000 years ago.

Two by two, the massive and highly decorated animals, wearing elaborate hand-embroidered saddles, and draped with red banners reading "mashallah" were escorted by their owners into the ring, bells ringing. Frothing at the mouth from excitement and anxiety, the animals jostle with their opponents, trying to pin their opponent's neck to the ground while their owners yell word of encouragement.

"Camels are very sensitive, like a child," says Savran, a camel trainer from Burhaniye. "You should really understand them." He explain that trainers get to know each camel's voice and the camel, likewise, know's that of his trainer.

As white streams of saliva draw zig zags through the air, two teams of camel handlers stand close by. In case the fighters get too serious, they are ready to use ropes to separate the 1000-1500 kilo animals named after fast cars, like Audi, or beautiful places, like Florida, or fighters, like Crazy Ozel.

Fights end after 10 minutes. A winner is declared if one camel forces the other to the ground, or if one camel walks away from battle, forfeiting the match. The level of violence is low compared to other animal fighting sports, though a few camels ended up with nose-bleeds. Oftentimes, no winner is declared. That seems of little importance to the crowd, though, many of whom are busily grilling camel sausage and drinking raki, Turkey's anise-flavored brandy. The crash of a drum, accompanied by wild clarinet playing and violin is reason enough for some of the men to dance, while others enjoy smoking water pipes.

These days, most camels are imported from Iran-- including a half-dozen soft, big-eyed juveniles who are for sale in Burhaniye. A good fighting camel is worth as much as $15,000, but most owners say their camels are not for sale.

"We don't drive luxury cars," says a camel owner named Akin. "We don't drive a good car, but we have a good camel."

As the clear afternoon began turning to dusk, the tournament concluded with a camel procession through the town. Then the camel owners began again the arduous process of coaxing the animals into the truck beds. The following weekend would see yet another camel tournament in a different Aegean town.

  • Jodi Hilton
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TEHRAN EX-PROSECUTOR MORTAZAVI FREED
Tehran, Iran
By Mais Istanbuli
20 Apr 2009

Tehran's ex-prosecutor and controversial ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been released from Evin prison after spending almost two days in detention, Iranian media reported.

The reports on Wednesday did not elaborate on the circumstances of Saeed Mortazavi's release nor of his arrest on Monday night when he was sent to Evin, where many political prisoners and journalists have been imprisoned over years on his orders.

Mortazavi's detention, amid a brewing political fight between state branches, was criticised by Ahmadinejad as a "very ugly action".

Despite strong opposition from the parliament, Mortazavi is caretaker of Iran's wealthy social welfare organisation.

Before his post there, the 55-year-old was in charge of Iran's task force against smuggling.

But he is best known for his seven-year tenure as Tehran's prosecutor until August 2010, when he was suspended as a judge after a parliamentary probe found him responsible for sending anti-government protesters to Kahrizak, a detention centre south of Tehran.

Three protesters died in prison there, in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 presidential election that re-elected Ahmadinejad.

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ELEPHANT BEAUTY CONTEST
Chitwan, Nepal
By Mais Istanbuli
27 Dec 2012

For the last three years Nepal has been organizing Elephant Beauty Contest in December in Chitwan. On Dec 28, beautifully dressed up with colorful makeup, Pinky Kali, Prakriti Kali and Chitwan Kali walked on the ramp. A team of judges looked at their physical hygiene,body structures, their nails and dresses. The event seemed like any other beauty pageants however with elephants as the participants. Elephants' intelligence was also judged. Elephants perform catwalk, shake hands and greet as requested by the judges.

Chitwan Kali, an elephant from the Chitwan National Park won the award.

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Let Wei Burma Boxers
Yangon, Myanmar
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Nov 2012

Let Wei is an ancient form of unarmed Burmese combat that is similar in style to Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodian-style combat. Three-time Myanmar national champion Lone Chaw, 36, is now seeking to transmit his skills to the younger generations of fighters. He is training them in the gym he opened in 2007. Lone Chaw's aim is to promote this martial art by training boxers of all nationalities and ages. Particular attention will be paid to train Myamar champions who will fight in the national championship. The photojournalist captured the champion in action in a World Press Photo award-winning black and white photo essay.

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PAKISTAN'S ENDANGERED MINORITY
Chitral, Pakistan
By Mais Istanbuli
01 Jan 2008

NORTHWEST FRONTIER PROVINCE, Pakistan —

High in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province in a barely accessible area, live the Kalash People, Pakistan’s last remaining non-Muslim tribe. The Kalasha live in small villages built into the sides of idyllic valleys with gurgling streams, wheat and cornfields and fruit trees. Wooden houses stacked one on top of another, climb up the sides of steep cliffs. Children play freely and attend co-ed schools, while parents harvest crops and till the land.
Though they once numbered in the tens of thousands, the Kalasha have seen their numbers dwindle over the past century. Most experts put the current Kalasha population between 3,000 and 4,000.
The polytheistic Kalasha — whose women wear vibrant-colored embroidered dresses and beaded headdresses called “susutr" — are viewed with both admiration and suspicion by the Islamic majority.
After tens of thousands of Kalasha people, also called Nuristanis, were forcibly converted to Islam during the last century, only a few thousand retain their ancestral religion and traditions.
Wynn Maggi, anthropologist and author of "Our Women Are Free," says they were "brutally and forcibly converted to Islam, horribly persecuted, put in jail ... the Kalasha suffered a lot in their history.” Kalasha women were sometimes abducted and forced to marry Muslim men. Stories circulated of Kalasha men being forcibly circumcised.
With their light coloring — some even have blue eyes — the Kalasha are rumored to be the descendants of Alexander the Great’s army, which conquered the Hindu Kush along with “the known world” in the 4th century B.C. In Kalasha oral history, the people are the children of "Salaxi," their name for Alexander.
Most scientists and anthropologists dispute the legend: No genetic ties between Kalasha and Greeks have been discovered, and scientists believe the Kalasha are Indo-Aryans whose religion has some commonalities with pre-Zorastrian Iranians.
But regardless, the legend once lured busloads of Greek tourists to the valleys, seeking a link to their ancestral past.
“The tourists would always bring Greek coins and small perfume bottles with a portrait of Alexander the Great. Greek filmmakers have come to film the Kalasha. Some Greeks even brought Kalashas back to Greece to dance,” Maggi explained. Hellenic Aid has funded several projects in the Kalash Valleys, including the construction of two magnificent, wood-hewn Kalasha schools and several bashalis, women’s menstrual homes. "Their culture is a treasure belonging not only to Pakistan but to the whole world," said Athanasios Lerounis, a Greek teacher and activist who in 2009 was kidnapped and kept hostage for eight months—presumably by Islamic militants who disapproved of his work. There are just a few thousand Kalasha living “among a sea of Muslims,” he said — more than half of the remaining Kalasha have converted to Islam.

"We are here to support these cultural islands." Kalasha culture is threatened over pressure to convert to Islam. The pressure to convert to Islam comes in various forms. Some Kalasha convert for love or in hopes of bettering themselves, while others bow to peer pressure in the government-run schools, where students mix with Islamic students, and curriculum includes Koranic study. Recently, Kalasha girls began covering their hand-beaded headdresses with gauzy veils.
Since Kalasha has religion is its center, “Kalasha people see [Islam as a] threat — once you convert you are not 'Kalasha' and you can never be again," Maggi explained.
In the center of the Bumburet Valley, home to the largest Kalasha community, a mosque serves the area's Muslims, and the call to prayer permeates the village five times a day.
On the surface, it appears that Muslims and Kalasha coexist peacefully. Many are related — some converted, some not.
But incidents of ethnic hatred occasionally bubble to the surface. A wooden alter had it’s horse motif’s “decapitated” explained Akram Hussain, a Kalasha teacher at the Kaladasur School.
"This altar ... is sacred and historic," Nearby, a madrassa was built next to the Kalasha's sacred dancing ground. 
"Why couldn't they have put it any other place?" asked Hussain. Disrespect toward Kalasha religion is not new. Maggi said that a decade ago, “Kalasha gravestones were constantly being desecrated. Punjabi kids would pose and take photographs with the bones of Kalasha ancestors.”
Kalasha leaders can’t help but think that local Muslims damaged their sacred altar, despite protests by the town’s only imam.
“I worry because the tide is turning in Northern Pakistan due to the rise of fundamentalism. If fundamentalism spreads, the Kalasha will be easily targeted and could be wiped out or weakened," Maggi said. “The ironic and sad element is that the situation is destabilizing and escalating," said scholar Saima Saiddiqui. "If the situation remains the same, Kalasha will also suffer and what will be the outcome for the people already few in number?”

-Jodi Hilton

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HOMELESSNESS IN ATHENS
Athens, Greece
By Mais Istanbuli
17 Dec 2012

The deep economic crisis that grabbed the Greek society for over 4 years causing a huge impact on Greek Citizens.

The Greek government, with the IMF's help, officially states that the unemployment have reached 28 percent, which many people find unbelievable. A big increase in taxes, public transport fees, and salaries, along with the reduction of public spending in social welfare cost many of people loose their homes, their jobs, and in some cases their lives.

Before the crisis, most of the homeless population in Greece consisted of either alcoholics, illegal drug users, or former prisoners.

Now-a-days, the homeless population consists of people with diplomas and foreign language speakers, who in a very few months have seen their lives change forever.

NGOs such as the Medicines san Frontier officially stated that Greece looks more like a war zone than a peaceful country, due to the humanitarian crisis it's facing.

Immigrants and local citizens are overcrowding the NGOs' offices and clinics asking for the simplest medicine and food. There are public cases of cancer patients who are unable to get treatment due to the government's decision to impose a 25 Euro fee as hospital entry for all patients.

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DEMONSTRATION OF SOLIDARITY BY THE ME...
Athens, Greece
By Mais Istanbuli
27 Jan 2013

-Demonstrators upon reaching the Greek Parliament disbanded peacefully. -Communist party members with red flags demonstrate shouting anti-government slogans. -Members of the Teacher's Union with their banner demonstrate in Solidarity in the center of Athens -A demonstration was organised in Omonoia square by PAME (Communist Union of Greece) in support for the METRO workers struggle. -A KKE (Comunist Party of Greece) representative shows his solidarity to the METRO railway workers that Greek government has forcefully ended their 8 day strike

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DESTRUCTION OF DRUGS IN KARACHI, PAKI...
Karachi, Pakistan
By Mais Istanbuli
25 Jan 2013

26 January is celebrated all over the world as International Custom Day under the umbrella of WORLD CUSTOM ORGANIZATION in Karachi, Photo by Yasir Kazmi, Karachi, Pakistan.
Huge quantity of Narcotics and other contraband good were torched by Custom Officials and different Ambassadors at Neelum Point, Karachi, Pakistan.

Details of destruction of good are as follows:-

1) Heroin 200 Kg
2) Weed 4850 Kg
3) Bear 132 Canes
4) Gutka 451 Cartons
5) Liquor 650 Bottles.

Representatives of different embassies, High Officials of Cost guards, Anti Narcotics Force and Large number of Custom officers witnessed the destruction.

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TUC TUC DRIVERS PROTEST IN HANOI, VIE...
Hanoi, Vietnam
By Mais Istanbuli
10 Jan 2013

A dozen of Vietnamese 'tuc tuc' drivers staged a rare protest in Hanoi on Friday Jan. 11, asking to meet The General Secretary of Vietnam's Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, and the prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung. On banners hanging from their three-wheeled motorbikes, demonstrators, war veterans and disabled persons asked to punish officials of Dang Xa commune of Gia Lam district (Hanoi), for violations of their rights. They drove for almost one hour passing through Dien Bien Phu street up to Hoan Kiem Lake, stopping just in front of the Communist Central People Committee in Hoan Kiem (Lake of the Restored Sword). Dien Bien Phu Street pictured.

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UNDER THE LORD'S SHADOW
Maguindanao, Philippines
By Mais Istanbuli
22 Jan 2013

Fierce fighting between two rival clans has forced hundreds of families to flee their villages on the southern Filipino island of Mindanao.

The people of Maguindanao have seen increasing disruption in their lives as the rival clans clash with increasing frequency near their homes. The local population is particularly vulnerable due to their geographical isolation from the Philippines’s center, and is living in increasing poverty, aggravated by the constant uprooting of their livelihoods.

While the Montawal clan currently holds the mayorship of the town, the Bigcog clan has begun to launch offensives against Montawal supporters. The rival clans have a long standing history of violence on the autonomous Muslim island of Mindanao. Clashes between the warring factions have long been characterized by tribal violence and payments of blood money.

The deteriorating situation for Mindanao and its residents stems from decades of government support for corrupt ruling families, who dominated impoverished populations through bribery and division.

The problems caused by Philippine’s feudal past are felt much more severely in the Maguindanao area than in other areas of the Philippines. As the wealthy rival clans live comfortably under the protection of their private armies, locals are increasingly under strain as gunfire marks their streets.

Tensions reached their peak in 2009 when armed gunmen attacked a group of civilians, whom they mistook for supporters of a rival candidate. Fifty-seven people, including 32 journalists, were killed in the attack, and their bodies dumped. Little legal action has been taken since the massacre, as government officials struggle to control the tribe members.

On January 18th, gunfights broke out after members of the Bigcog clan launched an attack against Montawal clan supporters in the town of Maguindanao. The long-standing feud between the clans has become increasingly polarized with upcoming midterm elections in the region.

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FLOODS IN JAKARTA
Jakarta, Indonesia
By Mais Istanbuli
17 Jan 2013

More than 10,000 people had been moved to temporary shelters while many others whose homes were flooded insisted on staying put, fearing their possessions would be stolen if they left.

The flooding also disrupted train and bus services and forced drivers stuck on submerged roads to abandon their vehicles.

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THE KIDS FROM LUNIK IX
Košice, Slovakia
By Mais Istanbuli
31 Aug 2012

Lunik IX is an apartment complex in Košice, Slovakia. Now it is home to an estimated number of 8,000 Romas. Over the years, Lunik IX turned into an urban slum, home to hundreds of children who grow up in the middle of garbage, diseases and crime.

Lunik IX is an apartment complex in the southwestern suburbs of Košice, Slovakia. Originally build as home for middle-class families with a capacity of 2,500 people, the Slovakian government started to resettled thousands of Slovakian people affiliated to the Roma minority in the 1990s. Today Lunik IX is home to an estimated number of between 6,000 and 8,000 Roma making it the largest Roma community within Slovakia.

Over the years Lunik IX evolved into an urban slum. The unemployment rate is nearly 100%, inhabitants aren’t able to pay their water, gas or electricity bills. The waste disposal isn’t working, inhabitants constantly throw their trash right out of the window. Everything that isn’t nailed down has been stolen and resold. Several buildings are in an unacceptable condition, at least one complex is at risk to collapse. The toxic standard of the waste disposal has reached a dangerous high level even starting to harm the town’s ground water. Only during certain hours a day people are supplied with freshwater.

The children from Lunik IX are the first who suffer from these horrible conditions and they should be the last to blame for their situation. Lunik IX is overcrowded, more and more flats become uninhabitable, winters are long and cold. Open fires inside the flats, rat plagues, diseases, malnutrition and worse hygiene standards are among the fatal threats threatening the children in Lunik IX.

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Syrian Children behind fences waiting...
Al Zaatari Refugee Camp
By Mais Istanbuli
24 Dec 2012

Fences secure the storage rooms that include the humanitarian aids that are distributed in Al Zaatari Refugee Camp. As soon as people were informed that new supplies were arriving to the camp, children slept all the night behind the fence awaiting for their new blankets.

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BEDOUIN SETTLEMENT NEAR ISRAELI HOUSI...
Ma’aleh Adummim, West Bank
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Dec 2012

The night he was recognized Palestinian state in the General Assembly member UN, all were celebrations in the streets. But not even 24 hours had passed when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, everyone returned to the ground announcing the approval of 3000 new homes in the area called E1, a bloc of settlements from the West Bank threatens to half. Bedouin families living in this very area, expelled from the Negev desert in the 1948 war also saw Abbas's speech on TV last night. Shortly after they met with the threat of being expelled again with the announcement of Netanyahu. 257 families have already received demolition orders around qeu road going from Jerusalem to Jericho, and their way of life, and disturbed by settlers who attack their homes and livestock, could come to an end if Netanyahu holds plans.

Ten Palestinian Bedouin communities living in the West Bank E1 corridor connecting Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem are facing displacement as Israeli authorities recently approved the construction of thousands of new housing units. The community's traditional way of life has been under threat by Israeli authorities's plans to build more settlement units.

The E1 project has sparked a major diplomatic backlash. Experts say it could jeopardize the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state. Most of the Bedouins living in this area are refugees whose families were forced out of Israel’s Negev in 1948.

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SYRIA - THE FORGOTTEN OF CAMP AZAZ
Azaz, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Dec 2012

Refugee camp of Azaz, Syrian border. Refugees from Halep and surroundings have lost their houses under bombings. They left Halep with just the clothes they had at that time. They have no documents, no money, no belongings anymore. They believed in passing the Turkish border to escape the massacres, but after a limited number of refugees which have been accepted by the Turkish government, and settled to the nearby camp of Kilis, right after the Turkish border, the border was closed. They had to settle in the camp right on the Syrian border, waiting for a move that does not arrive. Turkey cannot take more refugees and cannot do more than what actually it does. They must stay were they are, with no home to Syria anymore, no passport to leave the country, almost convicted to stay in the camp.
The exceeding refugees not accepted to Turkey were settled on September 2012 under the big hangars once used by Syrian custom police for to store and check up goods before to let them pass the border. For months the refugees had to sleep right on the pavements, under hangars, under trucks or any other shelter available. No heating, no running water, no latrines, no roof above their heads.
Tents arrived just at around the mid of November 2012, donated by the Red Crescent of Qatar. Since that, three hangars were filled with tents, then other tents were necessarily set on open ground. At December 2012, refugees of the Azaz camp are about 7000.
Life at the camp is hard. Volunteers from various ONG such as IHH provide for meals every day. Supplies come from world wide reliefs and volunteer donations, but they are not enough to many. Tents are not wet proof. Pavements are wet all the times the rain falls, especially those ones settled on open ground. No electricity is supplied. Little water is brought into big containers for first needs. Heating becomes a real issue with the incoming winter. Kids and boys are sent in the around fields to gather any burning material, but they cannot get too far since the mine fields for to protect the no man’s land are right at border line with the camp. Refugees burn dry grass or just a little more than grass. At dusk, they must make return to their tents, because all around there is no light for to walk even. They rest at candle light in their tents until they fall asleep.
Recently a protest for to ask better conditions at the camp was held at the border.

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WINTER IN THE REFUGEE CAMP
Al Mafraq, Jordan
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Dec 2012

B-Roll from Al Zaatari Refugees Camp.
As winter starts, Syrians at the Refugee camp are having very difficult time, suffering from the freezing weather which caused the death of a Syrian child.
Syrians at the camp are receiving donations from different arab countries and this video shows some of the details that Syrians are going through everyday.
Interviews with the mother of the child, with the uncle of the child, and with the person responsible for donations.

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SYRIA - PROTEST IN THE REFUGEES CAMP ...
Azaz, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Dec 2012

Refugees of the Azaz camp, Syria, protest for to get better conditions of life in the camp. Refugees of the camp of Azaz have lost their houses under bombings of Halep and surroundings. They left Halep with just the clothes they had at time of bombing. They have no documents, no money, no belongings anymore. They believed in passing the Turkish border to escape the massacres, but after a limited number of refugees which have been accepted by the Turkish government, the border was closed. They had to settle in the camp right on the Syrian border, waiting for a move that does not arrive. After more than three months living under tents, with no heating, no electricity, little food, wet conditions, a group of them has arranged a protest. They moved towards the Turkish border, crossing the no mans land and entering de facto in Turkey. They asked for better living conditions in the Azaz camp.
Traffic was jammed. Syrian refugees tried to stop all cars willing to cross the border, just allowing an ambulance to pass through. Turkish police moved to calm the situation, keeping great calm, even if a Turkish tank was moved on the border line just to say "pay attention".
An ambassador was sent by the governor of the area, to parliament for to have access to Turkey. He returned with no good news. Turkey cannot take more refugees and cannot do more than what actually it does. They must stay were they are, with no home to Syria, no passport to leave the country, almost convicted to stay in the camp. Ruefully they make return to the camp by night.

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AIDS AWARENESS CAMPAIGN IN YEMEN, 12/...
Sana'a, Yemen
By Mais Istanbuli
12 Dec 2012

In a socially conservative nation, three students are taking on one of the most controversial of campaigns.
While most of the Yemen was marking the rare 12/12/12 on Thursday by participating in a highly publicized “Clean Up Yemen” effort, three young students at the Lebanese International University in the capital of Sana’a, were attempting to use the day’s events to draw attention to a crisis that couldn’t be more controversial in a socially conservative country, HIV/AIDS awareness and the protection of those affected by it.

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75th Anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre
Nanjing, China
By Mais Istanbuli
12 Dec 2012

On December 13, 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded China, occupying Nanjing, China's former capital city. Over the course of six weeks, the Japanese murdered over 300,ooo Chinese citizens, and were accused of raping more than 20,000 women. The museum in Nanjing holds thousands of mementos and films of the victims of the atrocity. To this day, Japan has not issued an apology for the crimes of the Imperial Army.

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YEMENI CHILDREN ADDICTED TO QAT
Al Hudaydah, Yemen
By Mais Istanbuli
11 Dec 2012

Qat, a plant found in the Arabian Peninsula that acts as a stimulant when chewed, has begun to have an effect on economic, health, and environmental issues. The World Health Organization ruled it a "drug of abuse" because it can cause a mild to moderate psychological dependence.

The plant is accused of 'destroying the future of Yemen,' in particular when children begin chewing it at an early age. Children between 8 and 15-years-old can become addicted to the stimulant, often with the consent of their parents or guardians. It's a common belief, advocated by fathers, that chewing qat is a sign of adulthood and wisdom, and thus it's practiced at weddings at funerals.

Some fathers give their children qat as in incentive to stay home and finish homework instead of staying out in the streets, but youth also chew it in secret with their friends, both in public and in their private residences.

The economic crisis in Yemen has pushed children to work, and some choose to plant qat or sell it, often resulting in a discontinuation of their formal education.

"One reason behind children's addiction to qat is the tendency to leave school and enter the qat industry. This is due to the bad situations their families are going through, so the parents are not completely in control," says Dr. Adel Al-Sharjabi, a professor of sociology at Sana'a University. "Some parents even travel outside of Yemen, leaving their children to make their own decisions. Another reason is the lack of education and common knowledge among both parents and the youth," adds Al-Sharbaji.

Along with affecting society, the drug also affects health, causing hypertension and what some call "emotional disturbances."

Mohammad Al-Qadsi, a civil servant, said, "I chew qat, but I don't want my son to do so because of the harm it inflicts. If I allow him he will lose his childhood and his studies."

The money spent on Qat is about 60 million Yemeni riyals, which equals 6.5 percent of the total GDP, excluding oil. According to the Yemeni government's five-year development plan, 24 percent of all employed workers are involved in the qat industry.

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BLIND SCHOOL OF JODHPUR
Jodhpur, India
By Mais Istanbuli
07 Dec 2012

Founded in 1977 Netraheen Vikas Sansthan school has been working for the rehabilitation and education of blind students for the last 35 years in Suncity, Jodhpur. All the teachers many of whom are even blind also are well trained and highly qualified. Providing free education with board for blind children from all over northern India. Outside if the usual academia the school syllabus is structured to give a practical step up in life, lessons include trades and life skills. Home Science, regular cooking & hobby classes are conducted for blind girls and boys to make them self dependant Both male and female students are taught practical skills that can provide an income. These skills include the canning of chairs, weaving & spinning of bed sheets & towels on handloom machines. The students are paid stipend for these activities under Learn and Earn programme. This is combined with modern educational subjects including computer studies and languages provided the students, many of whom from impoverished backgrounds with an advantage in life otherwise unavailable to them and their families.

Free Medical checkups at frequent intervals are organized at school campus with the assistance of local hospitals and clinics. Free medicines are also provided to blind students as and when required. The check ups are preformed by renowned AIIMS, Delhi alumni doctors of ASG Eye Hospital, Jodhpur at regular intervals. Even eye operations of some blind students are also done where ever possible. Again providing students with access to a level of medical care and assistance that would otherwise be difficult, if in some cases impossible to attain.

Photographer Darragh Mason Field visited the school in late October 2012 and documented the daily life of the students there.

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GIANCARLO GIANNINI VISITS GEORGIA
Tbilisi, Georgia
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Dec 2012

Legendary Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini visits Georgia. He is a special guest of the Tbilisi International Film Festival. Giancarlo Giannini has met with Georgian viewers and answered their questions in Rustaveli cinema.

During his visit Giancarlo Giannini met his Georgian colleagues and the minister of culture of Georgia Guram Odisharia. Organizers of festival arranged the meeting with Giancarlo Giannini for Georgian viewers. After meeting the actor signed autographs and talked to his fans.

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KURDISH NOMADS
Turkey
By Mais Istanbuli
07 Dec 2012

Nomadic kurdish families that migrate around Southeastern Turkey during the spring, summer and fall seasons in order to graze sheep and goats.

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TYPHOON BOPHA POUNDS SOUTHERN PHILIPP...
New Bataan, Philippines
By Mais Istanbuli
05 Dec 2012

Hundreds killed And Thousands Evacuated As super Typhoon Bopha Pounds Southern Philippines.

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March For Immigrants In Sao Paulo, Br...
Sao Paulo, Brazil
By Mais Istanbuli
01 Dec 2012

Immigrants in Brazil out in the streets demanding rights and improvements in immigration laws.

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HUNGER STRIKE IN TELEFONICA, BARCELONA
Barcelona, Spain
By Mais Istanbuli
17 Nov 2012

Five employees of Telefónica (Movistar) are on the 27th day of a hunger strike to protest the dismissal of an employee, demanding reinstatement of the worker, but the company refuses to negotiate. The employee was fired from the company in 2010 after a herniated disc; the company justified his dismissal under the labor reform of Zapatero, that allows a worker to be let go after missing 20% of work hours within a four month period.

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THE NON-VIOLENT STRUGGLE IN GANGJEONG
Gangjeong ,South Korea
By Mais Istanbuli
23 Nov 2012

For the past five years, villagers and peace activists from all over South Korea have been fighting the decision to build a naval base in a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Since construction started in the small fishing village of Gangjeong, on the island of Jeju in 2009, protesters have been blocking the entrance of the gate day and night. Every hour about 300 police descend upon them to clear the way for the cement trucks to enter the site.

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THE CITY OF WIDOWS
Vrindavan, India
By Mais Istanbuli
25 Nov 2012

Vrindavan, the Indian holy city, where Hindus believe Krishna grew up and is home to the Hare Krishna movement is also referred to as the City of Widows. The city is home to an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 widows, begging on the streets and getting accommodation where they can find it. One widow, Sarwihawti (85-years-old), originally from Kolkata, had spent the last 25 years subsisting on the streets after being thrown out of her home by her son on her husbands death. She, like many others was told to go to Vrindravan and endure the centuries old traditional faith of women like; ‘to take baksheesh’ in other words to beg on the streets for alms from the thousands of pilgrims that throng to the holy sites in the city or are completing the 15 kilometer pilgrimage around Vrindravan and nearby Mathura, the birthplace of Krishna.
Coming predominately from West Bengal, the women tell stories of being ill-treated, derided and some cases starved by their husbands families.
The widows can earn a pittance at the Bhajanashrams that dot Vrindravan, the most famous being Sri Bagwan Bhajan Ashram where in exchange for singing and chanting Bhajan hymns the women are given a handful of rice and Rs 10 – 15, about 20 cent US. The Ashrams also provide dilapidated, overcrowded accommodation with only the most basic of amenities. According to recent report filed by the Mathura District Legal Services Authority, a sweeper had to be paid R 200 to take the body of a deceased widow, cut it into pieces, then stuff it in a sack and finally dump it in the Yammuna river – which is how the bodies of these women are usually disposed of in Vrindravan.
Both NGO’s and the State government of Uttar Pradesh are working towards providing more accommodation and medical support for these vulnerable elderly women. They also pledge to support their reintegration into society but what also is needed is the criminalization of the tradition. The Indian National Council of Women recommended fixing of liability on the children under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 to precisely this.

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YEMEN- ANTI-ISRAEL PROTEST
Sana'a, Yemen
By Mais Istanbuli
17 Nov 2012

November 18, 2012. Thousands of Yemeni demonstraters protest against the Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

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THE DAY OF ASHURA IN BAHRAIN, 20 NOV,...
Al Manama, Bahrain
By Mais Istanbuli
19 Nov 2012

Ashura is commemorated by Shi'a Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH (October 10, 680 CE).
On the 20th of November, hundreds of Bahrainis mourned the loss of Hussein.
Diverse religious groups gathered to share this memory with shiite in the Bahraini capital, the city of Al-Manama.

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Israeli Couple at the Borders of Gaza
Erez, Israel
By Mais Istanbuli
16 Nov 2012

Roni Keidar, the worker at the Israeli organization "The Other Voice" and her husband, talking about their experience with the war between Gaza and Israel.

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WHAT ALEPPO IS WITNESSING
Aleppo, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
21 Oct 2012

Daily life for the residents of Aleppo has changed dramatically as they are affected by the conflict which is happening all around them. Members of the FSA patrol the streets while civilians have their lives changed forever.

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GAZA UNDER ATTACK
Gaza City
By Mais Istanbuli
19 Nov 2012

An Israeli airstrike killed 11 members of the same family on 18.11.12 in an attack aimed at Hamas official Jamal Al Dalou. The casualties included four children.

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Walk for Syrian Children Demonstratio...
Bologna, Italy
By Mais Istanbuli
19 Nov 2012

Walk for Syrian children in Bologna, Italy, on November 17, 2012. Syrian people from all over the world meet up for a global walk for to drive the attention of the world to the condition of Syrian children left under the regime of Assad.

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JORDANIAN ARAB SPRING, 16 NOV
Amman, Jordan
By Mais Istanbuli
16 Nov 2012

More than an estimated 10,000 people gathered at Husseini Mosque after Friday prayer in downtown Amman, Jordan, calling for reform and the fall of King Abdullah II on November 16. The crowd was a mix of groups and ages, with Islamists, leftists and activists from youth movements numbering among them.

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SLUMS IN INDIA
Sion, Mumbai, India
By Mais Istanbuli
08 May 2009

The homes of the original inhabitants of Mumbai, the Kolis have been facing demolition drive for high-end development projects.

As per law, a builder requires 70% of the residents of a registered society to give consent to the project but in Sion Koliwada, the residents have repeatedly asserted that the builder used forged documents to claim a majority for the project.

There are over 80 re-development projects in Mumbai where residents have repeatedly claimed that the builder used fraudulent means to claim consent.

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Rehabilitation Clinic in Cambodia
Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia
By Mais Istanbuli
04 Nov 2012

Last year Cambodia Trust clinics fitted over 600 limbs, enabling their patients to have mobility again. More than 40% of the villages in Cambodia have a problem with landmines, and sadly young children account for about half of all landmine victims.

Most patients have a replacement limb every 2 to 3 years, going through a process where they test mobility, are re-fitted with a cast, and the cast is sent to the prosthetics workshop where the technicians finish the process.

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SEK Studios in North Korea
Pyongyang, North Korea
By Mais Istanbuli
13 Nov 2012

Who would have thought that North Korea, a country with whom the U.S. shares one of the most adversarial relationships with in the world, is responsible for partially producing some of Walt Disney's most famous cartoons such as "Lion King"
and "Pinocchio?"

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GENERAL STRIKE IN SPAIN, 14 Nov
Barcelona, Spain
By Mais Istanbuli
13 Nov 2012

General strike day in Spain.
Massive general strike in Spain are wrapping up. Today, the main economic sectors have stalled; transportation, trade, and industry.
In the morning there were Picket lines in front of major companies with the largest ones in front of the famous shopping mall "El Corte Ingles".

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PROTEST AT THE INTERIOR MINISTRY- AMMAN
Amman, Jordan
By Mais Istanbuli
14 Nov 2012

On November 14 in the early morning, protestors who were spurred to gather by the rise of fuel prices in Jordan, move to face off against riot police in the Interior Ministry Circle in Amman. Two hours before, demonstrators had attempted to tear down this photo of King Abdullah before they were blocked. Hundreds of police numbered among the thousands of protestors that called for freedom, democracy, and even chanted for the fall of the regime.

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HIJABISTAS IN INDONESIA
Jakarta, Indonesia
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Nov 2012

In Jakarta, they call them "Hijabistas" - a mix of hijab and fashionistas. They love glamourous clothes and colors. They are very feminine yet they still wear their muslim outfits and respect the Quran's values.

Indonesian fashion designers are hoping to turn Indonesia into the world’s Muslim fashion Mecca within the next decade. The country, which has the largest Muslim population, is already on the right path. Many designers have already established flourishing businesses in their local communities. Some of them even made it to the international market. Distancing themselves from the traditional black burqa, those Islamic fashion designers are now proposing new and unique clothing and hijab styles for muslim women from all around the globe.

The clothes, which are sold throughout the whole muslim world, are made in the outskirts of Jakarta. The capital even have its own fashion week, dedicated to this type of clothing. Dian Pelangi, a well known Indonesian fashion designer, even created a special collection for the Eid celebration this year, which she presented at the fashion week a couple of weeks ago. She even created an innovative jilbab (long and loose-fit coat or garment worn by some Muslim women) series called Circle Shawl to encourage more young women to wear the jilbab.

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BARCELONA PROTESTS HEALTHCARE CUTS
Barcelona, Spain
By Mais Istanbuli
10 Nov 2012

Approximately a thousand people, medics and healthcare practitioners gathered to demonstrate Sunday, 11 November, in the center of Barcelona, in defense of the public health services system. The protest was organized by the Platform For The Right To Health around the motto, "If you rob us of our health, you take our lives!" The protesters are against the implementation of copayment for drugs and services and the privatization of the Catalan healthcare system.

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THE YOUNGEST MAYOR IN THE WORLD
West Bank, Allar
By Mais Istanbuli
21 Sep 2012

Bashaer Othman, 16, became the youngest mayor in the world when she took over the municipal offices of Allar in the West Banks last summer, as part of a youth empowerment program.

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ALL-FEMALE POLITICAL PARTY IN PALESTINE
safa, Palestine
By Mais Istanbuli
01 Oct 2012

Palestinian women have long been a part of the political tapestry. Naturals at organizing and fulfilling the needs and requirements of society, Palestinian women have excelled in politics.

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MENTAL ILLNESS IN INDONESIA
Jakarta, Indonesia
By Mais Istanbuli
10 Oct 2012

In Indonesia, mental illness is still very taboo and rarely properly treated. Therefore, mentally ill people are often moved out of sight and enclosed in cages or enchained to their bed, from which they never get out. This practice, called "pasugan," is now forbidden but still commonly used. There are still about 30,000 mentally ill people kept in captivity in the archipelago of Indonesia. Often enchained for many years, barely fed and abandoned, those people live in inhuman conditions.

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Bahraini opposition groups called for...
Bahrain manana
By Mais Istanbuli
06 Sep 2012

September 7, 2012. Leader of Bahraini opposition group al-Wefaq Sheikh Ali Salman called for a peaceful protest in Manama, demanding democratic and human rights reforms in Bahrain. The leader warned the government against preventing the demonstration. Another opposition figure, Hassan Al-Marzouq, also claimed that the ban on demonstrations issued by the Bahraini authorities was illegal and that the opposition wouldn't stop protesting.

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REMNANTS OF WAR IN Kandal, Cambodia
cambodia, kandal
By Mais Istanbuli
20 Jul 2012

A severe problem that Cambodia faces is the magnitude of landmines littered over virtually every provence throughout the country. more than 40% of the villages in Cambodia have a mine problem.
This is the legacy of three decades of savage war leaving 40,000+ amputees through out the country. Recent estimates show that there may be as many as four to six million mines and unexploded devices left undetected in Cambodia although some estimates run as high as ten million.
In the warfare that raged in Cambodia from 1970 until 1998, all sides used land mines.
Most were manufactured in China, Russia, or Vietnam and the United States. Pol Pot, whose regime was responsible for the deaths of some 1.7 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979, purportedly called land mines his “perfect soldiers.”

Major minefields have been mapped and are being systematically demined. Although estimates show that it may take between 10 and 20 years to eradicate the threat and with serious amounts of money involved to do so.

Cambodia reported 96 landmine casualties in the first five months of 2012, according to a report of the Cambodian Mine and Explosive Remnants of War Victim Information System, and they quoted sadly young children account for about half of all landmine victims

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Myanmar - Taunggy Handicapped Center
Taunggy Myanmar
By Mais Istanbuli
04 Sep 2012

Catholic Nuns run this center for disabled people in Taunggy, Myanmar. State run hospitals do not have enough experience to deal with handicapped people, so they can only rely on thic catholic centre.

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Khalil al Marzouq, spokesman for Al W...
bahrain manara
By Mais Istanbuli
04 Sep 2012

4 September 2012
Chief Prosecutor Wael College Buallay said at a news conference today, September 4, 2012, that the Supreme Court of Appeal released judgements against 13 opposition activists in the case for conspiracy to overthrow the government and keeping contact with foreign entities in violation of the provisions of the constitution.

Political Aide to the Secretary General, Mr Khalil al Marzouq comments on the rulings.

Translation

"كل من يعاقد ان هذا الشعب سيعود الى البيت من غير ان يحقق كامل المطالب فهو واهم و عليه ان يعيد حساباته "

"Anyone who believes that those people are going to go home without having all their demands met, is delusional and has to reconsider his calculations"

Media created

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Hasan Ali Akleh, January 2011
Al Hassaka, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
27 Feb 2011

An image of Hassan Ali Akleh, in a hospital after setting himself on fire in Al Hassaka, Syria in January, 2011. Approximate date of image January 26, 2011. Exact date unknown. Hassan was born in 1974 in the Ghoueran neighborhood of Al Hasaka. He was apparently attempting to catalyze the Syrian uprising by emulating Mohamed Bouazizi, the street vendor who set himself on fire in Tunisia on December 17, 2010, an event regarded by many as the beginning of both the Tunisian uprising and the Arab spring.

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Christians in Ras al-Ayn (7 of 7)
ras al Ain, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
03 Jun 2013

Concierge of the Armenian church. Many Christians today feel trapped between the various military forces in Ras al-Ayn. The city has become a wire of checkpoints. The Kurdish militia controls some of them, while others are kept by the Free Syrian Army, and some are supervised by the Islamic Jabhat al-Nusra.

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Christians in Ras al-Ayn 2
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
03 Jun 2013

One of the 4 daughters of Basma, a Syrian Orthodox woman in her thirties. "I still do not know if I am safe here. While cleaning the house upon our return, I found an unexploded bomb next to the statue of Mary. They are making fun of us, but this is dangerous. Weapons on the street have become an everyday picture, but a bomb in my own house, the house where my children sleep, that makes me sick. "

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Christians in Ras al-Ayn 1
Ras al Ain, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
03 Jun 2013

The closed doors of the St. George church in Ras al-Ayn, Syria. The priest fled the country when the church became the frontline between Kurdish and Arabic militias. With his origin in the Middle East, St. George’s is still one of the most important saints in the region.