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Archive for the ‘Conflict Zones’ Category


(note: the above video contains gory images, it is shared by a group of Syrians I met on board the ferry)

They hardly look like refugees, they are not disheveled, they seem too cheery and they are in chatty mood, “I from Hama (Syria), he, my brother; this man, from Homs (Syria), our home, da da da da da….” speaking in disjointed English, 18-year-old Afwan emphasizes his point by making a gesture of shooting and mimicking the sound of machine gun in action; behind him, another man in his 20s rolls up his long pants to knee-length to reveal bullet wounds.

I am surrounded by a dozen of Syrians, mostly broad smiling teenagers, on board a ferry from Aqaba, Jordan, to Nuweiba, Egypt, on Friday; they are eager to share stories of their homeland, about the ongoing fights and casualties in the country that has been engulfed by popular uprising and severe crackdowns for months.

It is an expensive ferry, costing 75USD per person for a journey lasting one-and-a-half hour, yet more than half of those on board are Syrians fleeing what they described as “war zone”; Both Jordan and Egypt are just their transit point, as they are heading to Libya for a new leaf of life. “Why Libya? why not Saudi Arabia, or Jordan and Egypt?” I’m puzzled by their choice of final destination, to me, that sounds like jumping from a sinking ship to another.

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阿富汗的田园风光,看似美丽,却处处隐藏着危机。

我记得年少时听过一首曲子,名叫五十种离开的方式。在阿富汗,离开人世的方式大概不止这个数,在这里生活的老百姓,有可能在买早点时,不巧碰上定时炸弹引爆死去,也有可能开车时没注意到国际盟军打手势叫停车排查,而被当做暴徒乱枪扫射挂掉,还有可能在天天往来的路上,不小心踩到沉睡多时的地雷而丧身。

阿富汗地下埋藏了约一千万个地雷,是全世界地雷最多的五个国家之一,每天有10至12人因地雷丧命。可怕的是,没人说得准那里有地雷,城里乡间田里山区都有它的身影,有的是70年代末苏联军入侵时埋下的,有的是村民自己为防御敌人埋下的,有的是后来军阀期混战遗留下的,也有近期被游击队埋伏下的。

我在巴米扬山区间徒步,当地人一再提醒,一定要注意路边大石块上的记号,有红漆画着大叉叉的,表示当地还未排查地雷,白漆画上圆圈的地带则已扫雷;另外一定要走在有足迹或车轮印痕的路上,不要偏离主道,不要走入荒废的农地,不要抄捷径等等。但有时我会因为眼前的美景,刹那间忘了危机的存在。 (more…)

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1960至70年代,阿富汗是 “嬉皮士之路”(Hippies Trail)的必经之道,那些来自欧美长发披肩的男男女女,头上插着花朵,口里喊着“做爱,不要战争” (make love, not war)的和平口号,自由自在地晃悠在阿富汗的古都老城里;短短数十年后的今天,和平却已变成一个有如前世般遥远的古老记忆。

阿富汗曾是嬉皮士之路上的一站,如今前来的外国人大多是人道组织的工作者。网络图源

一阿富汗人到菜市场买当地特色美食——羊头。

“老板,一个羊头怎么卖?”

“50块钱。”

“这么贵!上周不就才20块钱吗?不能便宜点吗?”

“便宜点?没戏!你以为这是人头啊?!”

我的阿富汗友人用一则“笑话”来表述“阿富汗所有的东西都很贵,除了人命”。说完后他嘴角扯了扯露出嘲讽,又耸了耸肩表示无奈,我却愣在一旁无言以对。阿富汗30年战乱不断,国内资源短缺,物价高居不下,老百姓们日子过得穷哈哈之余还担惊受怕。

究竟有多少幸存的人们,还记得和平年代?那个胡子斑白的老头?还是那位满脸皱纹的妇人?但他们也许年纪都不大,只是艰辛岁月催人老;好比身高1米8的阿杜拉弓腰含背,鬓脚花白,其实他跟我年纪不相上下30出头;而只有35岁的莱娜,却开始了女性步入更年期后才有的生理反应。他们都是记事以来就在战火中成长的人。 (more…)

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A late afternoon weekend market in Hama, Syria, back in 2006. In the background is the city famed Noria (ancient water-wheel).

These past days, I have been following the news from Syria in disbelief.

What surprises me the most is not the Syrian government’s defiance against international pressure, sending in tanks and shells to quell rebellions in Hama and other cities; the unexpected are images of Syrians taking to the street openly.

“We don’t talk about politics,” this line parroted by nearly all Syrians I met during my travel there in late 2006 still ring in my ears, and the violently muted reactions of Syrians whenever I broached into domestic politics filled pages of my diary.

Back then, I had arrived in Syria shortly after the 34-day war in neighboring Lebanon, the fighting ground for Israeli and Hezbollah military forces. The Syrians displayed their solidarity with Hezbollah, Lebanese, and Palestinian victims in the conflict by putting up “anti-war posters” in the streets; laymen became learned commentators of the conflict, everyone had a piece to say about the US-Israel conspiracy against the Arab and Muslim world, and anti-Zionist views abound.

But, the moment I tried to veer the conversations to domestic politics, I rammed into a wall of silence. “We don’t talk about politics,” came the reply, end of candid conversations, and in a forced-polite manner, I would be showed the door out of teahouse, carpet shop, cobbler stall, local home, etc. (more…)

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巴基斯坦境内,一个以制造枪械为生的村庄——Darra Adam Khel。

奥萨马本拉登被杀的地点和方式,让巴基斯坦政府陷入很尴尬的局面。一方面要应对美国施加的压力和质疑,另一方面又要向愤怒的国民解释,作为一个自主的国家,如何能让美军在巴方不知情下,大大咧咧地闯入国内执行军事任务。

美方质疑巴基斯坦政府和军队,是否知道本拉登藏在那么靠近首都的地方;而巴国人民则在怀疑政府的无能。这让我想起多年前到巴基斯坦旅游时,见识过巴国政府确实无法全面掌控其领土内的局部地方,尤其是和阿富汗接壤的部落地区。

就好比普什图族聚居的西北部地区,部落长老们的势力较巴国政府有过之而无不及。这带让人感觉像是各部落自主,处于三不管地带,甚至有制造军火的“特权”。我就曾参观过一个部落军火生产基地,虽然严格来说,当时政府已经严禁游客到那里观光。

离巴基斯坦西北部最大的城市白沙瓦(Peshawar)几十公里外的Darra Adam Khel,是一个很不起眼的小村庄,只有一条主街道,全是不超过两层高的房子,大多是土木结构。走在这里的大街小巷,最常听到的声音是枪声。

这整个村子都是靠制造和销售军火为生。这里没有高科技,也没有大工厂。这里所有的枪械武器,都是各家各户,在自家楼下或后院经营的小作坊里全手工生产。他们采用的工具简陋得让人难以相信。你能想象用螺丝刀、锯子、铁锤、烧焊等技术就能仿造出和那些来自美国、俄罗斯、中国等地的大牌枪支或防空导弹吗? (more…)

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坎大哈市里,千仓百孔的房子见证了多少火拼。

我等了一整天,终于等到来自阿富汗的回音。当奥马和卡利尔两兄弟找到机会给我回复电邮时,坎大哈已经陷入“围城状态”48个小时了,而且迹象显示还将持续下去。

虽然收到邮件前,我已经从网络新闻上获知,塔利班从周六开始对坎大哈展开了强大攻势,多个政府建筑物遭到轰炸,战斗直升机空中盘旋,城里枪弹、肩射导弹横飞;但是,直到看了他们发自现场的邮件,才知道现实状况比想象中还要糟。

哥哥奥马和往常一样,直接把当地NGO保安机构发出的安全警示报告转发给我,在报告后面,他只加了一句话:“奥萨马本拉登死后,阿富汗和巴基斯坦的安全状况更坏了。”接下来,他的电邮直接转入话家常,说说他两个孩子最近在学校的成绩如何,他们都喜欢那些科目等。

局面越是严峻,越需要冷静,日子也要如常过下去——这是奥马一贯的作风,这也是许多阿富汗人,因过去30多年来都在大大小小、断断续续的战争中度日,而学会的生活态度。 (more…)

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阿富汗北方山多,但山区到处都是地雷陷阱。

今天我给远在阿富汗坎大哈的友人写了封电邮,问问他们最近好吗?奥萨马本拉登的去世,是否给当地带来了不便或安全问题?是否出现了报复式的枪械爆炸袭击?最近是否还需要经常前往阿富汗巴基斯坦的边境去办事儿吗?

其实在还没有得到答复前,我就已经在网上看到新闻,昨天周六,坎大哈市中心一整天在枪弹爆炸之中度过。六个政府部门的建筑物被武装分子分别攻击,8人死亡。塔利班已发出声明,称这次的攻击是由他们发起,并表明奥萨马本拉登的逝世,不会改变或削弱塔利班持续抗斗的士气和势力。

我查了查邮箱记录,最后一次和奥马及卡利尔两兄弟通信是今年三月底4月初。当时他们就已经告诉我,坎大哈和边境的安全问题每况日下。他们两在做的NGO工作,有许多项目必须被取消或暂停,除了经费问题,最大的原因是无法确保员工和参与成员们的安全,尤其是一些涉及妇女扶贫技能培训的课程终止了。

奥马今年初患上短期失忆症,这是因为一次前往边境出差时,遇上了游击队和官方军队的枪火冲突,脑部受到震荡,一些近期发生的事记不起来,又或者变得有点健忘。庆幸的是,这只是短期的后遗症,医生说会康复的。一定要好起来啊,我每每想起这事就会在心中默念,因为我不知道应该向谁祷告好…… (more…)

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