PS Spring 2011
Romani LivingDisplaced with Autism
After theTsunami Floods Inland
Living withRoma Autism Displaced 3
Features Amputee Runner...............08
A Different World...............12
Discontent in Bahrain.......48
New Lease on Life Colin Edwards is refusing to let his prosthetis slow him down. Life less ordinary Her autistic son changed Anita Kelleher’s life forever.
Italy’s “Nomad Emergency” Roma families are continuously moved from one camp to another. Britain’s Trash Addiction Careless littering has become a form of self-expression for our society. 6
Australian Floods We take a look at the extent of the tiny town of Grantham’s destruction.
One Immigrant’s Story Bilal Ghalizai left Afghanistan to escape the Taliban. Clamp down on Protestors The Arabian Gulf state’s government is growing increasingly oppressive. Relics of the World Wars Sound mirrors are reminders of how far technology has come.
Regulars Reviews.........................62 Innovations...................64 Laptops for poor children and solar powered lights in Haiti
Digital Revolution: The Impact of WikiLeaks
Spring 2011 Contents 7
Welcome to our debut issue. We are very excited to bring you our idea of indepth photojournalism. In each issue, Photoscript will take a look at the aftermath of natural disasters, personal tragedies and political events. When the mass media, the satellite trucks and the press corps leave is when we start our work. In this issue, we explore Britain’s culture of littering, technological advances that democratise laptops and light up Haiti, as well as taking a closer look at the protests in Bahrain. In Inland Tsunami, Patrik Lundin visits a town near Brisbane that was severely affected by the recent floods. Support for the residents is quickly waning as the media spotlight has turned elsewhere. This story is even the more poignant in light of the Japanese tsunami in March. A family's life with autism is the focus of Yi Tian’s Parallel Universe. Over in Italy, Sasha Achilli’s Permanent Limbo investigates the continuous displacement of Roma families as they are pushed from camp to camp. In Hindsight, Photoscript’s way of having the last word, Steven Wheatley’s Digital Democracy questions what makes a secret a secret as he explores the effects WikiLeaks is having on the media and international governments. Media attention can shed light on situations and raise help from around the world, but when the focus turns elsewhere, people, places and events are quickly forgotten. At Photoscript, our aim is to uncover what happens after the initial big bang – what are the developments, outcomes and consequences? We hope you enjoy our first issue.
photoscript The Team Editor Christina Fernandes Picture Editor Patrik Lundin Features & Design Editor Steven Wheatley Art Director Sasha Achilli Chief Designer Yi Tian Staff Writer Abhijit Dev Kumar PS Publications Ltd. Watford Road, Harrow HA0 1AJ Phone: +44 (0)7985102184 Email: email@example.com Web: www.ps-mag.com © PS Publications Ltd.
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The Running Man From New York to the Himalayas, Colin Edwards tells us why he takes the long way home Photography and Words Abhijit Dev Kumar
t is 6am and the picturesque Teign Valley is covered in a shroud of fog. Situated about 20 minutes from Newton Abbot, the valley is home to amputee marathon runner Colin Edwards, who has inspired many others to follow in his steps. The cold temperature is not a deterrent for Colin as he puts on his carbon fibre â€œrunning legâ€? and embarks on an off-road run. The 55-year-old is greeted by the drivers and residents of the valley and Colin waves back as he runs along the beaten track. An hour later he reaches Blackingstone Rock in Dartmoor National Park and throws his hands up, with full Rocky gusto, as
he reaches the top. At the time I am unsure whether he is delighted to finish his trek, or relishing the prospect of the long run back home. On the few occasions when I can keep up, he explains that when he was 18 years old, he had a motorcycle accident. Despite severe injuries, the doctors had initially managed to save his right leg. “However, after I had recovered, there was a lack of motor movement and, due to the disfigurement in my leg, there was also low blood supply, which caused chronic pain,” Colin says. The pain in his leg steadily increased to an insufferable level. Initially he was opposed to the idea of amputation due to the stigma associated with amputees. But after living with the pain for 12 years, he decided to go under the knife. At the time, however, prosthetic technology was still being developed and Colin grimaces when he remembers those first artificial aids. “Today, prosthetic limbs are fitted with silicon casing and are much more comfortable and durable when compared to the tight plastic casts that were being made ten years ago,” he reveals. After being fitted with prosthesis, Colin started training for running events. As well as competing in numerous London and New York Marathons, Colin’s perseverance has taken him to the summit of Cocopaxi in Ecuador and to the base camp at Mount Everest. Colin has separate legs for running off road, on flat surfaces and one for daily use. He admits with a smile that he also has a wooden stump, which he wears for Halloween. “I dress as a pirate and that wooden stump compliments my costume.” How did he adapt to wearing an artificial limb? “You have to be determined to work and if I gave up on myself I wouldn’t have done anything. Being an amputee, you have to develop self-confidence and compete with people on an equal status. It’s important to have a sense of humour and also to tell people your stories,” he points out. Today, Colin conducts workshops with PORTER, a charity that works with amputees to adjust them for the change to running and being mobile with prosthetic limbs. “I no longer consider myself disabled,” he says, “I’m enabled and, like I always say to amputees, ‘learn to love your stump.’” PS
Photography and Words: Yi Tian
Photography and Words Yi Tian
Dylan was diagnosed with autism two years ago. Since then his mother and sister have adapted to his needs
ylan’s world is very quiet. When he does want to talk his words become distorted into a fury of screams and wails. Until he was four, he could not even say “mummy.” There are currently more than 100,000 children with autism in England. The condition affects social understanding, bahaviour and communication and usually develops during childhood. Dylan was diagnosed two years ago when he was four years old. Since then his mother, Anita, and his 19-year-old sister, Nikita, have had to adapt their lives to his individual needs. As an autistic child, his experience and understanding of the world around him is so detached that parallels with other childrens’ development are pointless. “The biggest influence Dylan brought to me is that I have to change myself to being his mother. For normal children, you grow into a parent for them, while for autistic children, you have to change yourself because they never will,” says Anita. After Dylan was diagnosed, Anita, a single mother, quit her job. This was a tough decision, which would also affect her daughter, Nikita. Nevertheless, she chose to stay at home and teach her son. Looking at Anita’s eyes, the tiredness inside her is palpable. She is 42 years old and her drained stature is evidence that she takes little care of herself. All her attention is on Dylan. Although Dylan cannot make conversation with others or participate in typical social interactions, his less severe form of autism allows him to continue to live with his family and attend a mainstream school in lieu of being sent to a special establishment. However, as Dylan becomes older, more and more problems emerge. His teachers cannot tolerate his sporadic waves
Emotional Connection Sometimes small
interactions can bring Dylan’s universe more in line with that of his family.
of frustration. Biting and kicking is not uncommon. Anita has often thought about moving him to another mainstream school, though it is difficult to find one that has an autism unit. The last thing she wants is to send her son into a special needs school. She wants Dylan to be surrounded with children his age, which may lead to improved social interaction in the future. Before Dylan was born, Anita was a singer and played in a band. Even when she broke up with Nikita’s father, she still did not give up on her dream of performing on stage. She says that it was all she ever wanted to do. However, when Dylan was born, after a brief relationship, and was ultimately diagnosed with autism, Anita knew that her life would take a different path. Neither Anita nor Dylan have had any contact with the father ever since. Now, Anita encourages her daughter to pursue a career in music and Nikita already has a song published. Dylan loves hearing his sister sing and becomes excited each time Nikita picks up her guitar and plays the song to him. 20
As with most siblings Dylan and Nikita play and occasionally argue and fight with each other. Insignificant interactions like this make their two contrasting lives seem a little less different.However, family life is a string of rituals and endless decisions. Even the simplest of changes in a day can provoke a confused reaction from Dylan. Which playground he uses, what he eats, when he eats, which room he watches the television, what toy he plays with, who he goes to the bathroom with; these form the minor complexities of Dylan’s life. Even the most prosaic situations can pose dangerous outcomes, such as Dylan’s preference for running at full speed all the time. Accordingly, Anita and Nikita have had to devise simple but effective ways to try and make Dylan understand when he is putting himself in danger. “I think for other children, they have a second chance, but for autistic children, they only have one. You can say “stop” or “danger,” but for autistic children, there are no second chances to save their life. They just wouldn’t understand you.” PS
Roma camps are constantly dismantled and rebuilt while families are displaced in Italyâ€™s Nomad Emergency 22
Castel Romano, Rome This is one of the
most expensive camps to run in Rome. Many people who live here are small time criminals.
Photography and Words Sasha Achilli 23
ebastian, Patrizia, Raul, Fernando: these are the four Roma children who died in a fire in one of the many illegal camps situated on the outskirts of Rome. The shack that was their home is still there, carbonised timbers razed to the ground. Objects of everyday life are scattered amongst the ashes of what used to house a family of six. Surrounding the children’s home are other abandoned shacks. Everything is still as it was: a bucket full of pink clothes; a brush lying in front of a mirror; made up beds and new, unopened boxes of food strewn across the floor. The 6th February fire ignited pressure on Italian state authorities to close down these shanty settlements. In 2008, in Milan, Rome and Naples, there were 167 Roma camps: 124 illegal and 43 authorised sites for more than 12,000 Roma. It was estimated that there were 150,000 Roma living in Italy, around 15,000 in Rome, of whom only 7,000 were registered by the Red Cross. According to the European Union, these illicit nomad camps should not exist. Italy houses some of the largest Roma camps in Europe where people are still living in shacks, built from scraps of cardboard and plastic from shipping containers. The truth is that the displacement of the Roma community has been a continuous emergency - a permanent limbo where each relocation follows another. Camps that adhere to health and safety regulations ultimately degenerate as Roma families build extensions to their government-owned containers. Beba, a teenage Romaní girl living in the Castel Romano camp in Rome said, “We live with ten people in one container. It’s too small for all of us; it was better when we lived outside of government camps.” In 2008 this problem was entitled the “Nomad Emergency.” The term nomad,“ however, is misleading as thousands of Roma have been living in Italy for the
last three decades. In a quest to pursue forced permanent residence for Roma families, the Italian authorities are sending bulldozers to dismantle illegal camps. The inhabitants are consequently moved, unwillingly, to authorised sites. In January 2010, the first barracks at Casilino 900, once the largest Roma camp in Europe, were demolished. A whole community of caravans and makeshift homes disappeared over the course of two months. It was a clear message to the Roma, but the ministry of Rome did not - and still does not - have the resources to relocate and house the families. Every year £11.2 million is spent on maintaining authorised camps, money that could be used on providing families with local council housing. During the construction of Castel Romano, £8.6 million was allocated, around £1,297 per family of around five people. Despite the money spent, Castel Romano is destined for demolition as it lies on a natural reserve, forcing its inhabitants to be displaced once again. In Via Novara, an authorised camp on the outskirts of Milan, Jacopo, a Roma from Kosovo who moved to Italy to escape the war in the former Yugoslavia, was told by the authorities that he and his family would have to leave the camp by the end of February. He was not given a new home, or even a location to move to. Slowly, the authorities demolished the empty barracks, breaking up the camp’s infrastructure and drainage system. Sewage seeped out from under the container-homes and flowed onto the open ground. “The government comes here and forces us to live in these conditions. A few years ago they spent €3 million [£2.6 million] on new tarmac and fire hydrants, yet they will not restore what they destroy.” Staring into a future as bleak as it is uncertain, Jacopoo said, “they close their eyes and they don’t want to listen.” PS
Via Novara, Milan This camp is inhabited by Roma from Kosovo. As refugees, they do not have citizenship or a homeland to return to. 26
Sebastian, Patrizia, Raul, Fernando On
6th February four children died in a fire in one of Romeâ€™s many illegal camps. 28
Via Triboniano, Milan This is the cityâ€™s most controversial legal camp. Its neighbours complain of theft and other petty crimes. 29
Trashed Britain In 2010 London was voted the dirtiest city in Europe by the travel think-tank Trip Advisor, whilst uSwitch.com voted the United Kingdom as the worst place to live in the continent Photography and Words Steven Wheatley
ymptoms of Britain’s self-deprecation are everywhere. Violence, theft and vandalism are widely recognised, but the most indicative sign of London’s social illness is usually found under our feet or flying casually in the breeze: Litter. The capital’s favourite mode of self-harm is in the shape of a broken beer bottles or the ubiquitous stubbed out cigarette. The stigma associated with dropping litter has itself been discarded in modern times. When in the past the casual dropping of a sweet packet would end in a clip round the ear or a good-telling off by our elders, today this selfish, lazy and careless act of indifference has mutated into a weird and moronic form of self-expression. And, as any doctor would tell you, ignoring the problem only acerbates the condition. Have we as a nation simply given up and accepted our “trashed state” or is it symptomatic of the apathetic times that we live in? In a damaging report by the Policy Exchange in 2008, it was noted that since the 1960s, the amount of waste discarded on public property has exponentially increased. With a rise of over 500 percent, it is hard to escape from the garbage that plagues London’s streets and public transport. The Westminster district of Soho has three daily shifts of manual collectors on top of the two vehicle street-cleaners already in operation. However, more than 17,000 tonnes of litter are still being collected from the ground every year which costs the local council up to £500 million. 33
How is it that a culture, which prides itself on its individuality and humanitarian concern for others, can allow itself to bleed onto the streets and not care for its own wellbeing? By disregarding what litter symbolises, individuals are not only adding to the unsightliness of the environment but are contributing to a trend that mirrors a culture’s low self-esteem. So, who is responsible? The England football team for bringing national pride to an all-time low, the government or are we looking at the aftermath of a lethargic nation reacting to country that no longer speaks the same language to them? Europe’s cleanest cities, Helsinki, Amsterdam, Zurich and Stockholm have taken the stance that encouraging good behaviour is far better than the British, somewhat atavistic, trend of name-calling. After all, if a group of people have been given a label, then this, as Independent journalist Terence Blacker noted, only seems to justify and “normalise the behaviour.” 34
“Dropping litter has become a weird and moronic form of self-expression.”
In Australia, (voted the second best place to live in the world by uSwitch.com), the campaign against litter is invariably a positive message. National award programmes are hosted to encourage people to play their part in keeping their country beautiful, whilst further programmes are used to change the attitudes and behaviours of disparate communities. Since 1990, on 4th March, Australians throughout the country take to the streets to celebrate Clean Up Australia Day. Surely, it is time for a new approach. After so many ineffective advertising campaigns and the tiresome rhetoric preached by out-of-touch administrations, Britain must look towards countries that have effectively changed public attitudes towards litter. For a country with such a low self-image, everything must be taken into consideration and it should start on the streets. If this isn’t impetus enough for Britain to wipe the slate clean, then maybe this is: the best place to live in Europe voted by The Quality of Life Index is…France! PS 35
Inland Tsunami Photography and Words Patrik Lundin 36
n 10 th January, the tiny railway town of Grantham was devastated when the worst floods in living memory struck the Lockyer Valley in Queensland, Australia. Without warning the town was hit by what residents have described as an inland tsunami claiming the lives of 17 people. Three are still missing. Six weeks later, Grantham resembles a ghost town. The streets are empty. The houses mere skeletons. In a recently built bungalow only the supporting beams remain, the plasterboard walls ripped from their fixtures by the onrushing waters. Survivors speak of the floodwater as a living being. The carnage that lingers in a child’s room is a stark reminder of the lost lives. Dolls, children’s clothing and mud are mangled into an almost unrecognisable mess. In one kitchen everything has been swept away apart from the top shelves, where some boxes of cereal stand neatly aligned. In the days following the flood, Grantham and its citizens were thrust into the media headlight as images of the tragedy were broadcast around the world. The initial rescue response was swift. Now, however, some residents feel their government and the world have deserted them. The few residents who are hoping to rebuild their lives in Grantham speak of a growing frustration with insurance companies and the lack of government pressure on them. There is anger that the police locked down the town for nine days and prevented people from returning to their homes. Above all there is a sense of disbelief that something like this could have happened. Yet the reality is never far away. A teddy bear sits among the ruins of what was once the Keep family’s home. It belonged to 23-monthold Jessica, who was torn out of her mother’s arms to her death by the violent waters. The family car is stuck halfway out of the garage, keys in the ignition and Jessica’s shoe on the front seat. It is easy to see why residents trying to rebuild their lives here are frustrated. Nothing seems to be happening, the only visible government help is the constant police patrols which circle the empty streets. Inhabitants, some of whom had little to begin with, have lost almost all their possessions. Several weeks have passed yet insurance companies still have not informed residents when they can expect any settlement, or to what extent they will be covered. Craig, one resident determined to stay and rebuild his life in Grantham, echoes the feelings of many residents: “We are the forgotten people.” PS
The Farmer of Helmand A journey from the markets of a war zone to anonymity in London Photography and Words Abhijit Dev Kumar
dapting to change is part of the human condition. In the case of an asylum seeker from Afghanistan, a nation that has been witnessing war for the last decade, moving to a foreign country is almost a necessicity and accepting that change is crucial. Like many Afghans, Bilal Ghalizai arrived in the United Kingdom ten years ago, seeking asylum after war had erupted between Taliban and coalition forces. With a bag of clothes, a newspaper clipping and a few photographs, then-14-year-old Bilal managed to flee his country with help from his uncle, Mahmood Ghalizai. Hailing from Musa Qula Village, situated in the Southwest province of Helmand, Bilal recalls his journey and life in Afghanistan and the last decade spent in the UK. “Helmand was known for “hashish” [opium],” he smiles. “A majority of the people were farmers and either grew grapes or opium,” he says. “Life was very simple in our village. Every morning, we woke up to see beautiful landscapes. My father was a strict man and insisted that I prayed five times a day. I helped him farm our land and take care of it.” Helmand is one of the most notorious provinces known to the coalition forces that are fighting the war in Afghanistan. When the war broke out in 2001, it was branded as the stronghold of Taliban. “The province was highly under their influence and were respected before the war began. But soon after it started, people of Helmand became disillusioned with them,” Bilal explains. “They extorted money from farmers and sometimes forcefully took away young boys to train them in camps. People were scared to go out. I was very lean and weak, so they never bothered about me. However, two of my cousins, Osman (17) and Mubin (18) were taken away.” Over time he lost touch with them and it was only
from the news of a suicide blast that he heard about their deaths. “The last thing I knew about them was that they were strapped with bombs and were asked to sit near a market for a suicide mission,” he says. “I’m sure they had no idea what they were doing. Most of the suicide bombers are teenagers who have never seen a bomb and the majority of them don’t want to fight, which is why the people are angry with the Taliban.” But the pain did not end here. Soon after the death of his brothers reached their family, another cousin was blinded and lost a leg in the shelling between Taliban and American soldiers near his village. This was when Bilal’s family decided to send him away. “Young people were being picked up recklessly by the Taliban and my family didn’t want me to be killed like my cousins. Apart from the hostile situation, crime was on the rise and it was unsafe to be there. That is when my uncle helped me flee the country.” After being interrogated and granted asylum, he lived in a hostel for more than a year with fellow Afghani exiles. It has been almost a decade since Bilal left his home country. Though he has had to adapt to living in the UK, he admits that he is still an Afghan at heart. “Its good here, I learnt to read and write and I have a job. To come to think about it, life was good back home, but equally tough after the war began,” he admits. While juggling odd jobs to make a living, Bilal is training to be an electrician so, with time, he can find a full time job. “I’ve seen so much violence that even today, it feels good to be away from that situation,” says a relieved Bilal. Since he left, Bilal has lost touch with his family back home. “I have tried to contact my uncle but the last I knew was they had left the village. I want to go back to Afghanistan and look for them and one day, I will.” PS
Lost Family Bilal holds up a photograph of
relatives in Afghanistan with whom he has lost contact.
Protest in Tatters Following a violent clampdown on demonstrators, the Bahrain government demolished Pearl Roundabout, the symbolic heart of the resitance. It was a visualisation of the countryâ€™s transformation from a site of pro-democratic protest into one of oppression Words and Photography Christina Fernandes
ooking at the demolished tents and the pile of rubble that was once Pearl Monument, a symbol of unity and prosperity in Bahrain, it is difficult to imagine that only a few weeks ago, this was a temporary home of thousands of resolute yet optimistic protesters. Tea stands, carpeted seating areas, and even a popcorn machine provided here for the crowds. Thousands of people filled the square, standing, sitting or lying down. It could have looked like a funfair, if it wasnâ€™t for the constant forceful speeches that blared from the loudspeakers at a stage in the centre of the roundabout. 53 Photos this page: REUTERS
Men, women and even children spurred on the masses to continue their struggle for a constitutional monarchy. Nevertheless, even then the protesters worried about more violence from government forces. “We never know when we get attacked again,” Yousif Abdullah, a teacher who had been protesting at the Pearl Roundabout since the 17th February killings said at the time. “They [the government] go on TV and say they won’t shoot again, but then they change their mind.” The protesters were friendly and upbeat in those early days, offering foreign journalists tea and fruit while chatting to them in earnest about the current events in their country. Some correspondents joked that these were the happiest unhappy people they had ever met. A few weeks on, a quiet, d e s e r t e d Pe a r l Roundabout was a different world. The government h a d d e m ol i s h e d the monument and the camp had been destroyed. A traffic light is to replace the roundabout. King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa has declared martial law for at least three months, 1,000 Saudi troops had moved in and, with the help of 500 police, were clamping down on protesters with an iron fist. The violence escalated and by the middle of March, the body count was up to 15, with more than 1,000 injured. All demonstrations were banned and a curfew was in place from 4am to 4pm. The kingdom’s streets were deserted as many foreigners and Bahrainis had left the country. “When I took my family to the airport, it was like a movie,” said Mohammed Yousif, a Shia Bahraini. “You could hear shots being fired and my wife and son were crying. I’m fed up of the situation in Bahrain and it’s not safe anymore, so I
left.” Yousif relocated his family to Doha, Qatar although he had no job or housing there yet. While Bahrainis’ moves were self-initiatives, many expats were temporarily evacuated from Bahrain until the situation there calms down. Sherif Abdelsalam and his family were moved by JPMorgan Chase, his employer, into a hotel in Dubai where they were to stay indefinitely. “We just had to leave so quickly,” said Abdelsalam’s wife Demet. “We didn’t even have time to pack. It was not a good feeling to be leaving Bahrain this way.” Initially, it seemed that the situation in Bahrain might be resolved peacefully. The bloody removal of protesters from Pearl Roundabout on 17th February that left five people dead was followed by military occupation of the area
Ebrahim Ali Matar of Al Wefaq party. “So far, all of [the crown prince’s] speeches about reform are vague, without a clear scope or frame. The main obstacle to political reform is the ruling family,” he adds. “Until now, there has been no willingness by the government to put in place political reforms that will allow people to elect their own representatives.” The majority of Bahrain’s population, 70 percent, is Shia while the ruling elite is Sunni, which has led to much tension over the years. The Bahraini government is largely controlled by the ruling family, the al Khalifas. Eighty percent of the cabinet, which is appointed by King Hamad, is made up of al Khalifa family members. The Shura Council’s 40 members are also appointed while the Council of Representatives, whose forty members are elected, held 18 Shia members, all of the main opposition party Al Wefaq, until they collectively resigned from their posts as a result of the recent violent clashes. The MPs say they will not stand for election until reforms to start the transition to a constitutional monarchy have been put in place. The national, let alone international media, have rarely paid much attention to these issues until the Tunisian Jasmine Revolution kicked off a series of protests that swept the region from December 2010 until today. The clashes in Bahrain are not only the result of the revolutionary spirit currently sweeping large parts of the Middle East, though media audiences might be forgiven for mistakenly thinking so, since riots – a common occurrence in the kingdom for years - haven’t received much interest in the international press until recently. But the atten-
“We never know when we get attacked again. They go on TV and say they won’t shoot again, but then they change their mind.”
but when the opposition refused to consider a dialogue with government representatives unless “the streets were free of tanks,” the crown prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa, ordered all military to leave the roundabout. But while the Bahraini government talked of making concessions these remained minor, such as sacking four ministers, two of whom belonged to the royal family, and pardoning 308 prisoners, including 23 Shia activists such as Hassan Mushaima, the leader of the radical Haq opposition movement. However, many activists, including Mushaima, have been re-arrested since the clampdown. “We don’t feel that the government is serious about political reform,” says opposition MP Matar
Tireless Tenacity Even women and children
stayed in the Pearl Roundabout camp day and night until their forced removal.
tion that was on Bahrain during those days quickly moved to Libya as the protests there turned increasingly violent. “The international media are not covering what’s happening here anymore,” said protester Yousif Abdullah in Pearl Roundabout at the time. “Libya is the big story now,” Jamil Abdullah, another protester, added wistfully. H oweve r , a s G C C t r o o p s moved in and violence spread once more, Bahrain recaptured international attention. Western leaders are reluctant to come down hard on the Bahraini government, as, unlike Libya, it is an important ally. The American
administration, with the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet stationed in Bahrain, has urged dialogue between the ruling family and protesters but has stopped short of applying pressure. Other Western governments have followed suit by speaking out in favour of reform in a non-aggressive manner. However, the global media have taken a renewed interest in Bahrain. and journalists, unlike politicians, have been more outspoken in their criticism of the Bahraini government’s actions. One BBC analyst accused the ruling family of using the world focus on Libya to “unleash a campaign of intimidation” on opponents while the Daily Mirror called recent
developments in the kingdom the “butchery of a democracy dream” and a New York Times columnist claimed that the Bahraini government was “pulling a Gaddafi.” The United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all condemned the crackdown on protesters. However, for now the Bahraini government appears resolute in its stance not to negotiate with protesters. Dialogue with opposition leaders, many of whom have been arrested, has stalled since the arrival of the GCC troops. Al Wefaq’s Matar is pessimistic about the developments in his country: “The future is dark,” he said. PS
Social Media Revolution During those days when Bahrain did not feature prominently in the international news, both proand anti-government protesters managed to keep their causes alive by turning to alternative types of media. YouTube, for one, has been playing an important role as protesters from both sides are posting videos of various events taken on their mobile phones. Now that the traditional media players are back in the game, various amateur clips are making their way into international newscasts and stills taken from them appear in newspapers around the world. Meanwhile numerous pro- and anti-government groups are turning up on Facebook and engaging in ongoing discussions. “For decades, they [the protesters] have failed to achieve the destruction of our country,” British-born naturalised Bahraini Betsy Mathieson wrote on We Are Bahrain, one of several pro-government Facebook pages. “They will continue to fail, because the people of Bahrain will continue to stand unstintingly behind their leadership.” There are of course also antigovernment Facebook pages. “Seventy percent of the population are oppressed,” reads a post onthe Virtual Protest page. “Living under a Sunni king and his corrupt family that owns everything…Support the people, support freedom, support democracy.” But the Facebook stage is broader than a selection of support groups. Various causes are beckoning users to join in favour of or against the Bahrain government. The most heated debates are taking place on personal pages, keeping the dialogue evolving and disseminating information on the latest events. “What’s happening in Pearl Roundabout right now?” asked
one post before the camp’s demolition. “It is calm and safe if you want to come here,” read the reply, sent from a mobile. In Bahrain and elsewhere, as the traditional media’s attention wanes, Facebook and other Internet channels have proved to play an integral role for people to keep their movements alive and to continue to reach a global audience. This worldwide communication has become a way for people to shed light on their causes. Although the legitimacy of information shared through social
media can often not be verified, new communication channels are nevertheless changing the way conflicts and crises are viewed and handled. “I hesitate to say that Twitter, YouTube and Facebook represent the first time in history that such powerful broadcast tools are so easily and widely available to popular uprisings,” said Judah Grunstein, editor-in-chief of the World Politics Review. “But I’m having trouble thinking of another example.”
Sound Mirrors Forgotten relics of the World Wars on the coast of Kent Photography and Words Christina Fernandes
long parts of the English coast, a few strange dishes loom over the landscape. Often, not even the locals know that these are sound mirrors, the predecessors of radar. They were used as early warning devices to detect airborne invasions during both World Wars and are mostly found along the Kent and Yorkshire coasts. With the exception of one device in Malta, sound mirrors are unique to Great Britain. These creatures of concrete and metal are a stark reminder of a cataclysmic past and a visual confirmation of how far technology has come. Where they might once have seemed cutting-edge, their bulky structures now look antiquated and awkward. The mirrors were not always effective and eventually became obsolete with the increasing speed of aircraft and the development of radar. PS
Book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy
David Leigh and Luke Harding
WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, published by Guardian Books (the Guardian was one of the initial three newspapers that collaborated with WikiLeaks; Leigh and Harding are the Guardian’s investigations editor and Moscow correspondent respectively), is an account of the man and the events that lead to the publication of 390,000 Iraq War documents, the biggest military leak in history. F r o m A s s a n g e’ s c h i l d h o o d years spent on the run from his mother’s violent ex-lover and son of Australian cult leader Anne Hamilton-Byrne to his 1996 hacking trial and his more recent journey, disguised as an old woman, across the English countryside to Ellingham Hall, the book sheds light on the lesser known aspects
of Assange’s life. WikiLeaks also provides information about Bradley Manning, the US army private, now jailed at the Quantico Marine Corps Base, who gathered the leaked Iraq War documents, saving them on CDs labeled “Lady Gaga.” Much of the book discusses the polarising figure of Assange himself: “A new media messiah to some, he was a cyber-terrorist to others,” w r i t e s G u a rd i a n e d i t o r A l a n Ruisberger in his introduction. WikiLeaks reveals many aspects of this story but remains quiet on others, notably the sexual assault charges filed against Assange in Sweden. WikiLeaks is an initial, albeit not complete, account. “This is a compelling first chapter in a story which, one suspects, is destined to run and run,” writes Ruisberger.
Exhibition An Englishman in New York
Have you ever felt overpowered by the large contemporary portraits on the ground floor of the National Portrait Gallery? Ever craved something a bit more concentrated and delightful to digest? Well, your palate would be neatly satisfied if you were to find yourselves in Jason Bell’s An Englishman in New York exhibition. When you begin to savour his photographs you will gradually realise why it is placed in such a hidden, tiny space. The exhibition presents a way to delve into the figures’ English hearts by peeling away their New York skin, just like walking through the grand bright main hall into this petite exhibition situated quietly in 66
the corner of the National Portrait Gallery. As an Englishman living and working in the Big Apple, Jason Bell has photographed British-born characters from different vocations, who are thriving in America’s biggest city. The photos in this exhibition have been taken from Bell’s eponymous book. By positioning each portrait together with the subject’s thoughts and musings, the exhibition permits viewers an engaging representation of each person’s feelings of belonging to homes on each side of the pond. It is not merely the characters in the photos that draw our attention, but the way in which familiar liv-
The War You Don’t See “If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know,” former Prime Minister David Lloyd George said about World War I. Pilger argues in his film that despite 24-hour news coverage, audiences still don’t and can’t know. The War You Don’t See points out the shocking shortfalls o f t h e We s t e r n m a i n s t r e a m media in reporting on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Eighty to 90 percent of what you read in the papers is officially inspired,” a former CIA analyst claims in the documentary. Pilger criticises the practice of embedding journalists and investigates the role of public relations in selling wars. He reveals how the mainstream
John Pilger media, instead of investigating, fed their audiences the official line about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction in the lead up to the second Iraq War. T h e m a i n s t r e a m m e d i a’ s complacency explains why, for example, Basra was reported as having fallen 17 times before it actually fell. The BBC’s Head of Newsgathering Francesca Unsworth and ITV News’ Editor in Chief David Mannion’s refusal to admit any shortcomings contrasts sharply with BBC World Affairs Correspondent Rageh Omaar’s statement that “I didn’t really do my job properly.” Pilger points out that civilian casualties climbed from ten percent in World War I to 50 percent in World War II, 70 percent in the Vietnam War and as high as 90
ing or working environments surround them. The New York City police officer in uniform standing in the dark street, the hat maker outside her shop, the model sitting carelessly on the park bench, the film industry journalist standing at the crossroads of Times Square, the painter staring outside the window in front of his working desk. The viewer can acknowledge that these characters have all achieved a degree of success just as the figures’ natural integration with the environment in the portraits plainly speak to us about their current feelings towards New York. Seeing the soft light used in the work gives the pictures a vintage tone, stressing a sense of belonging and wondering. It is not a representation of a foreigner in another land; it mirrors the ways in which people have gradually balanced their identities between two exciting places in the world.
percent in the Iraq War. This is the hidden war – the massive extent of civilian deaths is generally downplayed. The War You Don’t See paints a damning picture of the major news outlets. It is a worthy addition to Pilger’s body of work, which Noam Chomsky has described as “a beacon of light in often dark times.”
“I take the part of England that’s inside of me and I try to find it over here,” explains Martin Speechley, a detective from the Office of the Deputy Commission for Public Information, one of the twenty figures on show. There is a brief narrative beside or below each portrait. Each person talks about their current life in New York and then recalls his or her previous life in England. Clearly, all the characters fully appreciate New York’s qualities, while at the same time, these Englishmen and women remain filled with memories of their home country, and it never quite leaves them. Jason Bell works as a portrait photographer in New York and London and mainly focuses on celebrities and film posters. Numerous photographs of his work are shown permanently at the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition is on free show until 17th April 2011.
photoscript looks at life-changing inventions outside the mainstream
Laptops on a Shoestring
While the world of technology is focusing on the recent launch of Apple’s iPad 2, a less famous invention is set to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of children living in poverty around the world. The XO-3 tablet computer from One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is the organisation’s latest tool in their mission to provide computers for the world’s poorest children. OLPC first grabbed attention in 2007 with the XO, a textbook-sized laptop wrapped in a durable green rubber outer with a clever screen hinge that both tilts and swivels. The XO was designed with learning in mind and since its launch in 2007 more than two million children worldwide have benefited from receiving it. As a learning tool, the XO enables children to connect, not only with each other but also with the world at large, empowering them and aiding education in areas where textbooks and other school materials are hard to come by. Following the success of their first laptop computer, OLPC are now entering the tablet market with the XO-3, a remarkably slim tablet 68
computer that OLPC hope will cost no more than $100 (£62). Like its predecessor, the XO-3 will have a screen designed for viewing both in dark rooms and in direct sunlight and is expected to be solar, wind-up and pull cord chargeable. Its amazing looking design is in many ways as revolutionary as the Apple iPad, especially when considering the low price. And its beauty is not just skin deep. Looking beneath the rubber outer the technology is just as impressive. Running the open source operating system Linux or Microsoft Windows and powered by a chip from UK manufacturers ARM, the touch-screen tablet is likely to be at least as big a hit as its predecessors. With an anticipated launch in early 2012 the XO-3 looks set to change how cheap computing is viewed and OLPC hope that it will be a further step towards their target of providing computers for 500 million children living in the most remote areas around the world. For more information visit: http://one.laptop.org
The OPLC aim to provide computers for 500 million children who live in the most remote areas of the world.
Lighting up Lives
Recent natural disasters have shown how reliant we have become on nuclear and fossil fuel sources while also highlighting the dangers inherent within them. The Japanese nuclear reactors, which began to leak after the March earthquakes, is a recent example of this. As a result, many companies and organisations are turning their gaze on alternative energies such as solar power. The BoGo Light is a solar torch that doesnâ€™t just use safer energy, it is also helping to reduce crime. In Haiti assaults on women in the camps set up after the earthquake dropped significantly following the introduction of solar powered lighting. The torch provides long-term benefits such as enabling education after nightfall. The simple idea of seeing in the dark is something that Western culture takes for granted, though in many countries night still remains a dangerous time. For instance in India, where there are more than one million snake bites a year, if people could light their way at night, many
potentially deadly snake encounters could be avoided. The BoGo Light is a hand held solar-powered torch that can also be used for household lighting and has a battery life of 5000 hours. As it is fuelled by solar energy is it unlikely to run out of power. For the poorest families in the world using solar powered lighting is a cheap option that is also healthier than burning kerosene. There are several charities that bring light to the people who need it. The public can help by either buying and giving a torch directly or donating money. Earth Spark International is a pioneer, with an aim to bring 50,000 solar lights to Haiti in an ongoing project that began after the earthquake struck in January 2010. Together with other charities and non-governmental organisations they hope to be able to provide not only personal lights but also larger solar lighting systems for hospitals and schools.
Solar powered lighting is a cheap and safe alternative for the worldâ€™s poor families.
For more information visit: www.earthsparkinternational.org/ relief.html 69
Digital Democracy The strange new world of geopolitics and journalism after WikiLeaks Steven Wheatley
What are the conditions of a secret being a secret and why is it important that governments spare citizens from facts that concern them? Five months after the Internet organisation WikiLeaks began publishing examples from a cache of 251,287 formerly secret US embassy cables, the thin boundary between what governments are saying and what they are doing has become more prominent in the global conscience. However, the recent media coverage seems to have missed the point, or, to be totally accurate, the Western media has dealt too little with the details and revelations which WikiLeaks represent. For the most part, the information in the cables revealed very little. They did not shine a conspiratorial light on the inner dealings of governments and regimes across the globe, nor was anybody particularly surprised with the knowledge that our embassies, and those mighty beings called politicians, carry out their work with clandestine, dishonest and backhanded deals. It is mainly gossip, which would easily fit in a column on page six of most tabloids. There is a reason why these leaks have caused such a stir – and it isn’t Vladimir Putin’s macho posturing. It is what Julian Assange’s invention means to the wider world of journalism and to the accountability of governments’ actions. WikiLeaks has irreparably shown us that the conventional standards of journalism no longer apply to the Internet. It also reveals 70
the spread of a much more general pattern, such as the shift towards the unautocratic nature of the webs endless possibilities for information in lieu of the traditional asymmetrical co-operation between the press and the government. This means that governments, the media and the public are all trying to figure out the implications of this new media frontier. Though the cables were published in the mainstream media, it is crucial to note that the information first went to WikiLeaks, who instead of making judgements about which documents to release, like the Guardian and Der Spiegel are attempting to do, simply offloaded all the information into the endless cyberspace pot. Contradictorily, despite planning to release all of the cables, WikiLeaks has been less than consistent regarding which names to include or retract from the initial leaks. This would have been common-practise in ‘old’ journalism, as the risk of imposing injury on guiltless bystanders based on public interest is engraved in journalistic ethics.In time, it is highly possible that WikiLeaks will evolve into something that represents a conventional journalistic organisation. By this I mean making intelligent and consistent decisions about what it is releasing. However, at present, due to the sheer number of leaks – currently at 80 a day - it seems that this exposé is just for exposé’s sake. Since their release in Novem-
ber, the WikiLeaks embassy cables have been unfairly compared to the Pentagon Papers affair. Published by The New York Times in 1971, the Pentagon Papers demonstrated in clear terms that the Johnson administration had deliberately and methodically lied to Congress and the American public regarding the political and military involvement in Vietnam. Not only was the information more hard-hitting and scandalous than the local candid colour of the embassy cables, but it is the calculated way in which the papers were published which distinctly separates the two. Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst, was acutely aware of the repercussions of his actions and took years to find a reliable intermediary to distribute a selection of the volumes. WikiLeaks’ rhetoric of levelling the playing field between the information available to governments and to the public is well founded, and advocates of “total statistical freedom” reiterate that this relationship is a deeply unbalanced one. Despite the image of Julian Assange as a silver-haired computer monster, eager to reveal secrets that will tear the world apart, he is not trying to generate panic within governments, nor is he trying to embarrass individuals on a mass scale. In a twisted and surreal way, WikiLeaks reveals the links that could make a conspiracy possible, therefore, highlighting the need for America’s embassy network to consolidate its method of computing and storing
Face of Controversy Julian Assangeâ€™s
WikiLeaks is having an impact on global governments and media.
data. Just by publication, Assange proved that the government computer networks were so inefficient that one frustrated Army private could obtain all the cables in just a few moments. The age of digital whistle blowing is becoming more consummate, safe and is generally now being accepted as a normal procedure. OpenLeaks, soon to be launched by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former spokesperson for WikiLeaks, will bring WikiLeaks-like facilities to publishers around the world. Anonymous, an Internet-based collective is steadily being associated with international “hacktivism” and carries out global protests promoting Internet freedom. Due to its capabilities and moniker of free speech, CNN posted that Anonymous would be the successor to WikiLeaks, and that they are in fact already sorting through recent WikiLeaks releases to raise awareness for previously overlooked cables. In short, enterprises such as WikiLeaks will always exist as long as governments continue with the belief that they can conceal massive secrets. The Internet meme for a transnational free language is swelling. However, nobody, including WikiLeaks, is suggesting that governments ought to exist in a state of complete transparency. What WikiLeaks has exposed is that a governments desire to escape retribution by obscuring the truth is completely different to a government’s reasonable requirement for secrecy and, since a decision has already been made without the public’s involvement regarding what qualifies as a secret, the trend is that governments will continue to secrete material that is of public interest. It seems common sense, however, that a secret that has passed through the desks and computers of millions of officials, ranging from army clerks to high-ranking diplomats, can no longer be deemed a secret. Indeed, amongst the hundreds of thousands of leaked cables, very few will or have raised eyebrows and have ranged from the soporific
“What are the conditions of a secret being a secret?” to, at most, intriguing. If WikiLeaks has taught governments anything, it is that they need to treat their valid and critical secrets accordingly and rid themselves of inconsequential or axiomatic hearsay. A column written by conventional methods regarding the fact that “China covets Iran’s oil more than it fears North Korea’s military sales” or that “Gaddafi has a Ukrainian nurse” offers little insight into the secretive world of high-level diplomacy. However, if leaked from the standpoint of an unfiltered view by a US diplomat, then scaremongers will maintain their spiel that leaks only complicate relations between (friendly and unfriendly) nations. Technology has now surpassed traditional journalistic ethics, and to warrant a more reserved commonsense attitude from our governments seems defensible. Secrets need to be conserved. Hence, limiting their audience to a few superiors rather than allowing them to be widely circulated, would negate the need for persistent denial of their validity. It is self-evident that governments will fight back. However, even if they recover their grip on secrets and impose massive punishments for future whistle-blowers, WikiLeaks has begun an unprecedented style of publishing raw documents. By establishing its headquarters on the web, it makes it impervious to international laws, nor can it be shut down by any national regime. What WikiLeaks has exposed is not one scandal or crisis after another, as some would have us believe, instead it has highlighted a crucial flaw in the previously accepted perception of freedom of speech. Clearly, it all just depends on which language you are speaking. PS
TUNISIA & EGYPT Whereas the leaked cables posed very little change in democracies (that enjoyed free expression), the revelations were much sought after by those who lived under oppressive regimes. The uprising in Tunisia is a case in point. Within a month of WikiLeaks’ revelations, Tunisia was in the midst of what has now been coined the Jasmine Revolution. Though it would be untrue to say that the US embassy cables single-handedly created the wide spread protests, as there had been a growing resentment aimed towards Zinc al-Abidine Ben Ali’s sclerotic thirty-year dictatorship, WikiLeaks, it appears, simply confirmed what the majority of the population had already been whispering. Under President Ben Ali, Tunisia suffered high employment and regional inequities, whilst the regime increasingly relied on the police to silence any dissident voices. The speed of the revolution and eventual over-throw of the government was extraordinary and the zeal for change spread across the region like wild fire. The domino effect had begun. In three months the sea of unrest had affected Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Libya and Oman, all countries that share a similar growing discontent. Social deprivations, blatant acts of nepotism and political corruption have caused mass demonstrations and have resulted in the over-throw of another archaic regime in President Hosni Mubrack’s Egypt. A new era of digital media and the exposé of WikiLeaks has served as an accelerant to destroy confidence in detested regimes.
Participate and send us your aftermath related photographs to firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Norwood Beckton, UK (2007) An articulated lorry fails to negotiate the Beckton roundabout, spilling barrels of tomato purĂŠe onto the A13 below.
For more details on our features and additional readersâ€™ pictures, visit www.ps-mag.com
Chris Barret Moynak, Uzbekistan (2009) During the Soviet era Russian irrigation systems drained a once prosperous fishing village into a barren desert.
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