This photographic essay on the bloody conflict in Kashmir is from European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) photographer Altaf Qadri: For decades, neither Pakistan nor India wanted a solution to the Kashmir standoff because the existence of an external enemy enabled both sides, when it suited them, to divert attention from domestic problems. How could you demand food, work, security or freedoms when the nation is under threat? That argument wins every time. While politicians were winning, Kashmiris were paying a terrible price in pain and are torn apart, physically, emotionally, legally and financially. A fertile valley which once was called "Paradise on Earth" becomes a dangerous place to live, its harvest merely razor wire and mines. Indian authorities argue that abuses by their forces are rare and those responsible are punished. But in fact official investigations are infrequent, punishments, if any, are light, and the practices continue. While some abuses, particularly indiscriminate shootings of civilians and reprisal killings, were worse in the early years of the insurgency, summary executions of persons taken into custody have never abated and have even increased during periodic counterinsurgency operations. The Kashmir conflict has claimed more than 60,000 lives, according to Indian officials. Separatists and Pakistan put the death toll at between 80,000 and 100,000.
The following words and photographs are from Zoriah: During my work documenting the AIDS crisis in Asia, I had the opportunity to meet some truly incredible human beings, some of whom are still alive, most though have already died in the short period of time since the completion of this project. From the groups of urban prostitutes living and working in the slums of Phnom Penh Cambodia, teaching each other safety, survival and financial planning while setting up clinics on the average aid agencies paperclip budget, to the quiet suffering of mothers who have unknowingly passed on a disease to their children via their fathers indiscretion, these stories and these faces linger in my mind. While aid organizations give total infection rates of about one percent, caregivers, hospice staff and the people on the ground speak of certain regions reaching up to twenty five percent HIV infection rates. With a new heroin epidemic hitting urban slums and a dramatic increase in both hetero and homosexual sex tourism, the problem is expected to reach epic proportions over the next few years. Numbers and statistics are just that, nothing more than markings on paper or words on a news program, the human side however is truly disturbing. Patients wait to die alone, coated in flies and nursed by family members. Understaffed hospitals are in such disrepair that they have been deemed biohazard and HAZMAT threats and workers refuse to even enter the premises, much less make necessary repairs and provide care to patients. In several well known hospitals I found myself literally wading through ankle deep piles of disposed needles, catheter bags and soiled linens, as patents navigated hallways with potholes that dropped through to the floors below. The human suffering is quite unreal and the faces of teenage girls, mothers, fathers and small babies wasting away in discomfort still appear vivid in my mind. This photo story is dedicated to my new friends who sit quietly and wait to die, those who choose not to sit quietly but fight for the lives and the health of their friends, family, and complete strangers. This photo story should also serve as an attack on the organizations, governments, corporations and pharmaceutical giants who quite simply are doing too little.
Alerting everyone to photojournalist Maya Alleruzzo's good works. Her story -- outlining the trials and tribulations of an Iraqi officer badly injured during a Christmas Day ambush -- has produced some results. Perhaps just a drop in the bucket, but a drop nonetheless. Here's a link to the full update. The lede is below.
Which Photo Agency Is Hardest To Deal With? (Please use the comment section to address some of the issues you see.)
Total votes: 690
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