Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Afghan Girl (Afghanistan)

Forced to leave her home in Afghanistan during the Soviet War to a refugee camp in Pakistan, an Afghan refugee became the symbol of the Afghan Conflict and for all Refugees.

At the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in 1984, this photo of Sharbat Gula's was taken by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry. Gula was one of the students in an informal school within the refugee camp; McCurry, rarely given the opportunity to photograph Afghan women, seized the opportunity and captured her image. She was approximately 12 years old at the time.

Although her name was not known, her picture, titled "Afghan Girl", appeared on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic. The image of her face, with a red scarf draped loosely over her head and with her piercing sea-green eyes staring directly into the camera, became a symbol both of the 1980s Afghan conflict and of the refugee situation worldwide. The image itself was named as "the most recognized photograph" in the history of the magazine.

Gula was orphaned during the Soviet Union's bombing of Afghanistan and sent to the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan in 1984.
Her village was attacked by Soviet helicopter gunships sometime in the early 1980s. The Soviet strike killed her parents forcing her, her siblings and grandmother to hike over the mountains to the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan.

She married Rahmat Gul in the late 1980s and returned to Afghanistan in 1992. Gula had three daughters: Robina, Zahida, and Alia. A fourth daughter died in infancy. Gula has expressed the hope that her girls will receive the education she was never able to complete.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Anti-Vietnam March '67 (USA)

Jan Rose Kasmir confronts the National Guard placing a flower in the barrel of a soldier's rifle, outside the Pentagon during the 1967 anti-Vietnam War march in Arlington (Virginia), 1967. © Marc Riboud.

This march helped to turn public opinion against the war in Vietnam.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wanting a Meal (Sudan)

This photo showing a starving Sudanese child being stalked by a vulture won South African photographer, Kevin Carter, the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. Kevin committed suicide three months winning the award.

Kevin Carter was a member of the Bang-Bang Club, along with three other South African photographers, which photographed images of Apartheid brutality.
In 1984 started working for the Johannesburg
Star bent on exposing the brutality of Apartheid. That same year Carter's first Time cover appeared. Carter was the first to photograph a public execution by "necklacing" in South Africa in the mid-1980s.
He later spoke of the images; "I was appalled at what they were doing. I was appalled at what I was doing. But then people started talking about those pictures... then I felt that maybe my actions hadn't been at all bad. Being a witness to something this horrible wasn't necessarily such a bad thing to do."

In March 1993 Carter made a trip to southern Sudan with intentions of documenting the local rebel movement. However, upon arriving and witnessing the horror of the famine, Carter began to take photographs of starving victims. The sound of soft, high-pitched whimpering near the village of Ayod attracted Carter to a young emaciated
Sudanese toddler. The girl had stopped to rest while struggling to a feeding center, wherein a seemingly well-fed vulture had landed nearby. Carter snapped the haunting photograph and chased the vulture away. However, he also came under heavy criticism for just photographing — and not helping — the little girl.

The photograph was sold to The New York Times,
where it appeared for the first time on 26 Match 1993. Practically overnight hundreds of people contacted the newspaper to ask whether the child had survived, leading the newspaper to run a special editor's note saying the girl had enough strength to walk away from the vulture, but that her ultimate fate was unknown.

He later confided to friends that he wished he had intervened and helped the child. Journalists at the time were supposedly warned never to touch famine victims for fear of disease.

Criticism surrounding his Pulitzer Prize winning photograph and the death of a close friend, Ken Oosterbroek ( a Bang-Bang Club member), who was accidentally shot and killed while covering township violence, may have contributed to Carter's suicide

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Soweto Uprising (South Africa)

On 16 June 1976, black youths took to the streets of Soweto (South Western Township, Johannesburg) in a peaceful protest against Buntu Education. What followed was a series of clashes between the youths and the South African authorities against the Apartheid regime and policies.

This photograph of Hector Pieterson was taken by Sam Nzima.

From 1974, black students were required by to study in Afrikaans, for maths and social sciences, and English, for practical subjects (e.g. needlework and art), while indigenous languages would be used for religion and music. During the Apartheid era, Afrikaans was regarded as the language of the oppressor.

On the morning of 16 June, between 3000 and 10 000 black students took to the streets and headed for Orlando Stadium for a rally to protest against Bantu Education, the protest was intended to be peaceful.
When met the police on their route, the student leaders asked the crowd not to provoke the police, however according to the testimony of Colonel
Kleingeld, the police officer who fired the first shot (which was corroborated by eyewitnesses from both sides), some students started throwing stones at the police, police attempted to calm the crowd verbally, and tried to disperse the students using dogs and tear gas, but to no effect. One of the police dogs were caught, set alight and beaten to death. When police saw they were surrounded by the students, they fired shots into the crowed, at which point pandemonium broke out.

Kleingeld drew his handgun and fired a shot, causing panic and chaos. Students started screaming and running and more gunshots were fired. The first person to be shot Hastings Ndlovu, followed by 13-year-old Hector Pieterson. The photograph taken of his body became a symbol of police brutality (see image above)

The rioting continued and 23 people, including two whites, died on the first day in Soweto. Among them was Dr Melville
Edelstein, who had devoted his life to social welfare among blacks. He was stoned to death by the mob and left with a sign around his neck proclaiming 'Beware Afrikaaners'.

The accounts of how many people died vary from 200 to 700, with Reuters news agency currently reporting there were "more than 500" fatalities in the 1976 riots. The original government figure claimed only 23 students were killed. The number of wounded was estimated to be over a thousand people.

This image of Hector
Pieterson became a symbol, internationally, of the South African Apartheid regime's brutal force and contributed to a major international outcry and further isolated the country both diplomatically and economically.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kent State Massacre (USA)

The Kent State shootings, also known as the May 4 massacre or Kent State massacre, occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, Ohio and involved the shooting of students by members of the Ohio National Guard on Monday 4 May 1970. Four students were killed and nine others wounded, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.

Some of the students who were shot were protesting the American invasion of Cambodia, which President Nixon announced in a television address on 30 April. However, other students who were shot were merely walking nearby or observing the protest at a distance.

There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, high schools, and even middle schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of eight million students, and the event further divided the country along political lines.

In the Pulitzer prize winning photo, taken by John Filo, is Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14 year old runaway, kneeling over the body of Jeffery Miller after he was fatally shot by the National Guard. This image only strengthened American sentiment against the US invasion in Cambodia and the Vietnam War in general.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Black Power Protest (Mexico)

On 17 October 1968 at the Olympic Games in Mexico, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medallists in the 200m, stood with their heads bowed and a black-gloved hand raised as the American National Anthem played during the victory ceremony.
They were demonstrating against continuing racial discrimination of black people in the United States.

Within a couple of hours the actions of the two Americans were being condemned by the International Olympic Committee for making a domestic political statement in an apolitical forum. Smith and Carlos were expelled from the Games

Smith and Carlos were largely ostracised by the U.S. sporting establishment in the following years and in addition were subject to criticism of their actions.
Smith continued in athletics and in the promotion of equal rights. In 1999 he was awarded a Sportsman of the Millennium award. He is now a public speaker.

Carlos's career followed a similar path to Smith and in 1985 he became a track and field coach at a school in Palm Springs
, a post which he still holds.

The silver medallist in the 200m event, Peter Norman of Australia, who was white, wore an OPHR badge in support of Smith and Carlos' protest. Norman, who was sympathetic to his competitors' protest, was reprimanded by his Country's Olympic authorities and ostracised by the Australian media. He was not picked for the 1972 Summer Olympics, despite finishing third in his trials. Depression and heavy drinking followed. He died on 3 October 2006. Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Napalm Girl (Vietnam)

This picture of Phan Thị Kim Phúc (born 1963) was taken when she was 9 after she was severely burnt during a napalm attack on her village on 8 June 1972.

Taken by Nick Út (who earned a Pulitzer Prize for the photograph), this photograph became one the most remebered images of the Vietnam War

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