Tag Archives: Aleppo

The Meaninglessness of War: Aleppo

Here my 6th photo series from Aleppo – hashtag #keepfocusonaleppo.



Lund, Sweden – March 24, 2017



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Can the almost total destruction of Eastern Aleppo be used constructively?

Only if we are willing to ask and dialogue about this:

• Why does the world go on investing US$ 2000 billion annually in warfare and US$ 30 in all the UN does – only to create destruction of people, places, past and future?


How absurd, how meaningless – indeed how far must it go to destroy the West itself – before we learn to conflict intelligently?

I’ve see much destruction during my work in conflict zones the last 25 years. But nothing Continue reading

School in an Aleppo factory

The occupiers denied children education. Now they get it.

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TFF’s first four photo series from Aleppo have been seen by 95,000 people so far and been featured in online magazines from Vietnam to California, among them a German site with a million visitors daily.

Above is the fifth story.

It’s about the terrible, systematic destruction of this UNESCO World Heritage site but also about an Aleppo businessman who turned his damaged factory into a school for 1500 children.

It had been damaged by the Free Syrian Army and al-Nushra who looted it and then used it as HQ.

It’s situated in the Sheikh Najjar Industrial City outside Aleppo that – before the militant/terrorist occupation – represented no less than 50% of Syria’s total industrial production.

During two years, these children received no education. Now they do. And hope is slowly coming back.

This photo story ends with some “civilisational questions” by Jan Oberg who also took the photos.

This is the kind of story Western mainstream media don’t bring for reasons one must assume are political.

But TFF does. Because it is a free research think tank.

We focus on the conflict and civil society where media are obsessed with violence and war criminals.

We look at peace opportunities where others spend their energy on blaming one or the other but have no ideas on how to solve underlying conflicts and make peace.

TFF doesn’t work for this or that violent party but for the UN Charter norm of peace by peaceful means. That is, for the innocent, suffering people in Syria – the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945:

Such as these wonderful, innocent children whose story deserves to be told.

MS – Markedsført Sandhed og Syrien? Med tillæg om en god dialog

Introduktion tilføjet den 7. februar 2017

Som det fremgår i en kommentar under denne artikel blev både MS’ forkvinde, Helle Munk Ravnborg og generalsekretær, Tim Whyte, kede af min udlægning omkring MS “markedsføring” og holdning til Syrien. Naturligt nok.

Mit indlæg var skarpt formuleret – der skal af og til sparkes i løgsovsen også for den gode sag som MS i sig selv jo er. Men de valgte alligevel til min store glæde at invitere mig til en snak.

Det møde havde vi så i dag den 7. februar over deres kaffe og min medbragte mazarintærte.

Jeg indledte med at undskylde at der i min artikel (som står herunder som den blev skrevet) findes et par formuleringer, der kunne tolkes af de to som et personangreb; det var ikke tilsigtet og jeg mener jo som alle andre fornuftige mennesker – oh, Gandhi! – at man skal gå efter bolden og ikke spilleren.

Vi havde 90 minutters sober snak og gensidig lytten, udforskning af vigtige temaer. Man kan sige at min konfrontation ledte til dialog og endog nogle konstruktive idéer til fremtiden.

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Jeg lærte at det er svært at balancere når man – de såvel som jeg – bliver vred over den lidelse vi ser uskyldige udsættes for. Og at man let kommer til at tage parti i kampens hede for den ene eller den anden part i stedet for måske at tage afstand fra alles vold.

At det kan være svært at have alle fakta på plads (og at vide hvad der er empirisk holdbart og hvad der er fordrejning) inden man tager stilling og mobiliserer opinion. Aktivisme går jo gerne gå lidt hurtigere end det dér 5-10 årige forskningsprojekt.

At MS ikke – som jeg havde fået indtrykket af – har et markedførings-firma, der hjælper dem med den stil, de har på hjemmesiden, på blogger og i taler; det er deres egne folks måde at gøre det på.

At de er dybt bekymrede over at mennesker føler så stor magtesløshed og at det vigtigt at organisationer som MS forsøger at skabe møder, pladser og forløb hvor denne magtesløshed – der er så farlig for demokratiet – kan erstattes af fællesskaber og konstruktiv aktivitet.

Og at MS så at sige arbejder med sig selv og har en løbende intern debat om både form og indhold i kampagner.

Jeg følte både åbenhed og respekt og det er jeg glad for.

Derfor delte jeg også lidt af min erfaring med hensyn til hvordan man kan analysere de underliggende konflikter, som volden er symptomer. Jeg mener at symptom-diskussioner let leder til golde debatter om skyld. Det ville være bedre at fokusere mere på konflikternes karakter over tid end på “hvem der er værst” til at bruge vold – fordi symptom- og skylddiskussioner ikke kan lede frem til dialoger om fredens muligheder.

Og at det er freden, der er MS’ historie eller essens og ligger både Tim Whyte og Helle Munch Ravnborg varmt om hjertet – ja det er der jo ingen tvivl om.

Jeg foreslog så nogle konkrete ting som jeg mener MS måske kunne tænke over og måske gøre fremover og at det er vigtigt at være for nogen eller noget snarere end at være imod – og de blev opfattet med stor interesse.

Så meget at vi blev enige om at mødes igen når jeg er hjemme fra næste rejse til Syrien.

Dét ser jeg meget frem til. Så tak for idag, kære venner.

• • •

Mellemfolkeligt Samvirkes nye stil og måden at håndtere Syrien på bør blive en parentes i organisationens liv. For der må være tale om enten uvidenhed eller uhæderlighed.

Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke er slået ind på den amerikansk inspirerede linje med professionel markedsføring, reklamesprog og iscenesat aktivisme samt – og ikke mindst – en bestemt politisk holdning vedrørende visse internationale spørgsmål.

 

Den nye humanitære industri

Det er muligvis en del af den nye humanitære industri hvor regeringer, humanitære og menneskerettigheds-organisationer samt medier gør fælles sag vedrørende krigszoner. Det indebærer selvsagt at “N” i NGO, Non-Governmental Organisations, kommer til at stå for “Near” og ikke “Non.”

Civilsamfundet tenderer at udhules og demokratisk dialog mellem folk og regering forsvinder. Langsomt men sikkert.

Organisationer som Læger Uden Grænser og Human Rights Watch påtager sig roller som både partiske medier i felt og politiske eksperter og gør det politisk korrekt i forhold til især vestlige militære interventioner.

Det er altsammen affødt af den kendte men tvivlsomme doktrin om humanitær intervention eller Responsibility to Protect (R2P) – hvor spørgsmålet i en begrænset verden er: Intervention hvor? Mod eller med hvem? Af hvem? Vil vi gøre mere skade end gavn? Og hvor gider vi ikke intervenere?

Svaret på det sidste er: dér hvor største menneskelig behov findes og hvor der samtidig ikke findes strategiske interesser eller mulighed for at bruge våben.

I dagens verden flyver de fleste landes humanisme F16. Også det officielle Danmarks. Ren humanisme, medmenneskelighed og ægte solidaritet er faldet ud af den politiske værktøjskasse.

 

M for Markedsføring – og USAs valg

Vælger man denne let smarte markedsføring-og-politik strategi i denne nye industri skal man være godt klædt på forinden.

Det findes der, som jeg ser det, to årsager til at MS ikke synes at være. Continue reading

The little girl from Eastern Aleppo

New year’s night, January 1, 2017

This girl had come out of Eastern Aleppo after four dark years of occupation by Western-backed terrorists – too many to name. People who for no reason had destroyed her home, her part of that beautiful city.

Perhaps half of her life living in fear, perhaps having lost family members.

I do not know.

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“The Little Girl From Eastern Aleppo” – © Jan Oberg 2016

I met her on December 14 at the Jibrin reception and registration centre in Western Aleppo where Syrian soldiers and volunteers from Aleppo University had just given her this bread with some vegetables inside.

She was one of thousands, old and young people who had been hit by unspeakable evil, death and destruction.

Victims of the dozens of conflicting parties and their criminal games. Destroying her life, her family, livelihood and her home town.

Of which there is nothing left. Nothing.

It was a rainy gray day. She was in a queue to get this little and she was so very grateful.

So hopeful. A little to eat to begin all over again.

Her standing there, her gesture. And the media tell you that Eastern Aleppo fell, that it wasn’t liberated?

Ask this girl.

Grasp her gratitude for what little most of the world take for granted. And those eyes.

I could not hold back tears in mine when I shot this image. Neither while I returned to process it and now writing this.

I’m a peace researcher and art photographer. The two sides come together in this image.

It’s the most important among thousands of pictures I took in 2016. Perhaps in all my years.

I have no wishes for myself this year. Have everything.

But I have many other wishes.

That this little but formidably strong girl and the thousands of other children and adults of Aleppo will live in some little peace in 2017.

That they will have the strength to return to what is left of their homes, if anything, and rebuild them. Go to a school and play in safety.

That the inhuman international “community” – it is no community – will lift the sanctions on Syria and show their humanity. Sanctions only hit innocents like her.

That she will live forever in security and peace and that she will not carry traumas from her childhood for the rest of her life.

That she will be able to, eventually, forgive the satanic forces who did this to an innocent child.

And that I may go back in 2017 and find her and ask how I can help her.

That’s the very very least I can do in gratitude for what she has taught me about the utter meaninglessness and cruelty of war.

No I can’t. I can’t wish anybody dead.

But I can express my rage through Bob Dylan. Who, fifty-three years ago, spoke to “The Masters Of War” – and I include the arms traders among them – thus:

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand over your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.

As we move into the new year – 2017

The old years went – in as little a time as it takes to turn around and see who is tapping you on your shoulder. And it is the new, the next year.

I hope it will pass too – in as little time as it takes for me to turn my head and look forward again – because the face of 2017 doesn’t look good or kind to me.

Neither do the next ten or so years.

Beyond that the world will become a better place. If, that is, if we survive and don’t destroy it all.

It is actually already becoming a better place!

The thing that has too pass – or pass away – is the United States Empire.

In a few years it will go the way Rome and all the rest plus the Ottoman, British and Soviet empires did. No empire lasts forever.

But before we go for it – a video from Beirut, December 2016:

 

Some indicators of Empire dissolution

The indicators, the cracks, in the Empire are there for all to see – the Americans and other Westernes will be the last and remain in denial for some time until the discrepancy between the self-image and the reality, the self-delusion, has grown too big. Like East Germany or Russia at in the early 1980s.

The rest of the world, the non-West sees some of these cracks quite clearly: Continue reading

Humans in liberated Aleppo

Have just published the second of a series of photo stories from Syria – “Humans in liberated Aleppo”.

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Boy in Eastern Aleppo demonstrating to me, as a visitor there during the days of the liberation, that he sees this as a liberation, as a victory – I hope he will soon see a beautiful re-built Aleppo – full of energy. He indeed deserves that after four years of living in what many described as hell.

You can subscribe to this page for photo stories which ensures that you’ll get an email as soon as they are posted on my Exposure page.

I’d be most grateful if you’d share this link too.

And here is a little background to this photo story:

Unique photos with text from Eastern Aleppo’s liberation, December 11-12, 2016.

Of some of the roughly 100,000 who were finally liberated, of the real humanitarians, the transport between East and Western Aleppo – and of the military, the children, street scenes, a bread queue and the devastation of this once so beautiful, bustling city.

Photos of heart-breaking suffering and sorrow in children’s eyes but also of smiles and hope.

Photos of the fellow human beings who did not fit the general Western political and media narrative since 2011 and therefore got no attention:

– the civilians who suffered for four years from the brutal occupation under Western- and allies-backed terror groups and from the Syrian-Russian military’s defence and liberation of the city.

This is my story.

The photos are genuine, not constructed by a marketing corporation.

This story is about our handling of Syria and its people – yes the lives of 23 million people should be central.

What you see here is the consequences of arms trade, sanctions and ignorant divisions of terribly complex societies into two groups – the good and the evil.

And it is a story about Western de facto support to terrorm since the US started history’s most counterproductive war: the war on terror that has only increased the problem 80 times.

We hate terrorists when they hit us in Europe – understandably.

But we support terrorists when they fight those “we” just don’t like.

Here are some of those – innocent fellow human beings – who pay the price of that cruel way of thinking.

I’m afraid the West has lost it. Are you?

 

The destruction of Eastern Aleppo, Syria

Have just published the first of a series of photo stories from Syria.

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The enigmatic, massive destruction of Aleppo. What political goals did the occupiers have with this utterly meaningless, surreal death and destruction?

You can subscribe to this page for photo stories which ensures that you’ll get an email as soon as they are posted on my Exposure page.

I’d be most grateful if you’d share this link too.

And here is a little background to the coming photo series:

TFF Photo Story

Lund, Sweden, December 27, 2016

Of course you have seen media images of the destruction in Syria. But not these taken in mid-December when Eastern Aleppo was liberated.

We live in a time when images – real and fake – influence perceptions more than ever.

My photos are real. Documentary. They reflect my role as witness on the spot at a time when only a handful of Westerners were present.

At a time, too, when all the mainstream media were conspicuously absent – as were the dual-purpose White Helmets who have delivered quite a few of the theatrical images from this war.

As a conflict and peace researcher and photographer I take pride in using not only analytical texts but also the medium of photography.

I am anyhow unable to describe just in words what I have seen.

Thanks to modern technology the small, smart, independent and truthful of this world can compete, to some extent, with the multi-billion dollar marketing and propaganda machines.

This is the first of a series to appear in weeks to come that will give you an impression of both life in Damascus, Eastern Aleppo’s destruction, the destruction in Aleppo’s old town, the human victims of this horrific war on Syria, the celebrations at the liberation of Aleppo etc. 

I do not believe that pictures of wars and victims will, in and of themselves, lead people to think of peace. Hiroshima films have done little to eliminate nuclear weapons. 

But in this particular case I do believe it is necessary to document just how big, systematic and unjustified the destruction of Aleppo has been – not only for those who built it and lived there over 7000 years but also to humanity, to all of us.

With what right did all the parties contribute to this utterly heartless and meaningless destruction? 

How did it come to this surreal level of violence wrought upon a historic cultural and industrial city and its vast majority of innocent fellow human beings? 

Will we ever learn – not only that war is stupid but also that this type of destruction cannot conveniently for some be blamed on one single side? 

All parties who used violence have blood on their hands.

Aleppo’s blood.   

This is the first of a series of stories that I must tell as a witness to an event that more intelligent and civilised generations in the future will have nothing but contempt for.

And if you ask me which side I am on, the answer is simple:

I’m on No government’s. No military’s. No leader’s.

I’m on the side of the tens of thousands of innocent, suffering Syrian citizens. Nobody deserves this!

I am on the side of the underlying, perfectly legitimate conflicts and not on the side of anybody’s violence.

And I do admit to have a particular problem with those – many – who interfered violently in the internal affairs of Syria and did only harm and no good.

Syria’s future is for the Syrians – all of them – to decide.