The Kuchi nomads in Afghanistan ‘ cul de sac ‘ the way of no return. During a chronic war the nomads suffer most, as the Gipsies did during the Balkan wars. The Kuchis camp on the outskirts of cities in holes dug in the earth, deprived of all rights and the chance of returning to the traditional life style of the shepherds. Of all refugees they are the last. Anar Bibi, 17 years old, the victim of the self-immolation (80% of the body). She is from the Pashtu Kuchi tribe, from Fariar Province. She did’nt accept to marry the man that the family have choosen for her.
ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT
What lies behind the conflicts and power struggles vying for control of the oil resources of Western and Central Asia? The aim of this work – The Central and Western Asia Project – is to give voice to those who are the unwilling protagonists (and often victims) of that which Ahmed Rashid terms The New Great Game, in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Central Asian republics.
In Afghanistan, a country that was to be saved from itself, despite the millions of dollars in aid and the presence of military personnel, over half of the population depends on food aid for their very survival and the condition of women is still among the worst in the world. Pakistan, increasingly torn apart by civil strife, is the victim of American political myopia that has bred a hatred for the West and has rendered impossible any serious opposition to the extremists, undermining the very founding values of the Pakistani state: democracy, a secular educational system, a functioning civil society.
In the work that I did in this Region (Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iran) I’ve tried to go beyond the facile geopolitical characterizations of this region and its inhabitants and bring to the light its invisible spaces: spaces that resist the political monochromes, populist rhetoric and imported understandings of radical Islam. There is another, hidden world here, ignored by the media: that of the Sufi, despised by the Taliban; that of Islamised shamanisms and pre-Islamic traditions; that of the various nomadic tribes and other religious minorities, such as the animists, whose sacred places have long been seen as a powerful threat to the dominance of Taliban Wahabite ideology.
I’m trying to bring to the fore also the condition of women: their struggles with depression and suicide, with the impositions of morality, their aspirations, their sexuality.
Afghanistan. The Kuchis camp on the outskirts of cities in holes dug in the earth, deprived of all rights and the chance of returning to the traditional life style of the shepherds. Of all refugees they are the last. Kuchi camp in Kabul. The deep well with dirty water, the mortal trap for the children. Laibar is living with his family in Kabul. He cannot more travel, because the roads are too much dangerous for the nomads, he works in the market of the city as a porter, and his dream is to send to school his children.
Kabul, hazara quater, December 2010, the commemoration of the Ashura
Afghanistan. This village in Badakshan lacks aspirin and antibiotics.Treatments involve the smoking of opium, which is also given to children, as this girl 2 years old.
Tajikistan. The mosque of Chugand (ex-Leninabad), city founded by Alexander the Great and first gulag of the nuclear, where many deportated Crimean Tatars died.
Tadjikistan. A welcoming land, old and sweet, where people greets you by saying ‘caj kusai’, which means ‘eat some tea’. And tea means everything.
Tadjikistan. The most complicated borders of the planet are here, drawn by Stalin in orderto be in command of the most incontrollable neighborhoods of the Soviet Empire: passages as narrow as geese necks, which can be crossed only in summer. The fertile valley of Fergana, divided into three states intertwined as snakes, united by a common geographic destiny that has no solution. The roof of the world, set in a very unlucky position: here are the springs of the Asian rivers, yet women drink, cook, and wash their laundry in the rain drainages at the sides of the road.
Tajikistan. Center for the women, the victim of the domestic violence, Chugand. This young women, ex-teacher of geography, due of the traditional familiar laws has no protection from the violence of her husband alcoholic. She should live hidden, somewhere.
A prison for minors in Kabul. Most of the jailed are young womenwho have attempted to flee arranged marriages.
This girl is 16 years old, lives in Kabul with his mother and a paraplegic brother who fell from the roof of their house. A high percentage of all paraplegic patients of the Red Cross – besides those hurt by gunfire or mine victims – have fallen from the clay roof of their houses. This girl has just heard that their landlord has given them three days to leave the house for good.
Afghanistan. The largest woman’s school is located in Herat. Some 13,000 girls and young women studyin overcrowded conditions amid scorpionsin summer and fighting off the cold in winter.
Afghanistan. Waiting for amulets in front of the mullah’s home in the Khost Wa firing Valley, near Baglan. Neither the Russian in their time, nor the Taliban now, dare to enter the aerea. Shafiqa is only one midwife in the villages around, she is leaving now with her family to Kabul, in order to give the education for her children.
Afghanistan. The Sufis’ cradle. The tolerant Islam’s cradle. The Shia’s Muslim cry. The cradle that the West likes to ignore, as much as Bosnia. A world that Talibans hate, and our bipolar crash scheme threats. Yet, in this country there is irony, and people laugh even in their darkest moments, have affection and show respect to the eldest, are conscious that their only chance for a future life is in schools and in their children, the men of tomorrow. In the ‘bright garden’ of Afghanistan I have followed by instinct its paths, and found centers of hope in the most un-hoped for places, at the darkest bottom of desperation.
The night of Ashura between Shia Muslim in Kabul.
Hamman in Kabul. Following to ejaculation, after a legitimate intercourse, to cleanse one’s body from dirt, from spiritual contaminations, and from filth (not to be mistaken with sins) is an art in Islam, a spiritual practice, a pleasure, and often an obsession as well.
Free-lance photographer and writer, for GEO, East, National Geographic (Italy), La Repubblica, periodicals by Gruppo Espresso and Rcs, Courrier International, Gazeta Wyborcza. Born in 1966 in Warsaw, she has completed five-years studies in the Polish Philology on the Warsaw University. She has three sons and worked until 2002 as an actress and dancer. She has published books: ‘Libya felix’, Mondadori; ‘Figli di No?’ Frassinelli 2006 (minorities and faiths in Azerbaigian); ‘Rebecca e la pioggia’, Frassinelli 2006 (the nomadic tribe of the Dinka of South Sudan); ‘Gerusalemme perduta’ with Paolo Rumiz, Frasinelli 2005 (about the Eastern Christians); ‘Genti di Dio, viaggio nell’Altra Europa’, Frasinelli 2008 (researches in East Europe and Israel), Bozy ludzie, Bosz Editions 2011. More than 50 personal exibitions. Awards: Grant in Visual Arts 2005 from EAJC, Bruce Chatwin Award 2009 ‘Occchio Assoluto’, The Aftermath Project Grant 2010. Her book ‘Genti di Dio’ has just been published in a new and larger edition.
Central Asia Project