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Navam Perahara

The Navam Perahara procession in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo commemorates the acceptance by Buddha of Arahants Sariputta and Moggallana as his two chief disciples. The former was renowned for his profound learning and wisdom (pragna) and the latter for his exceptional spiritual powers (irdhi). The Navam Perahera is an annual procession, a mix of religious and cultural traditions of Sri Lanka.

The Navam Perahara procession always coincides with the full moon Poya day in the month of Navam in the Buddhist calendar, which follows the Duruthu Poya in January.
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Turkey’s Camel Wrestling

In January each year there is the annual Camel Wrestling Championship held in Selcuk in Turkey. The event puts together two bull (male) camels with a female camel on heat nearby. The camels fight it out for the female, leaning on each other to push the other one down. It is most common in the Aegean region of Turkey, but is also found in the Marmara and Mediterranean regions of that country. There are an estimated 1200 camel wrestlers (or Tulu) in Turkey, bred specially for the competitions.

A camel can win a wrestling match in three ways: By making the other camel retreat, scream, or fall. The owner of a camel may also throw a rope into the field to declare a forfeit if he is concerned for the safety of his animal.

A camel wrestling event involves considerable pomp and ceremony. The camels are decorated, and participate in a march through town followed by musicians on the day before the event.

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Intha – Children of the lake

The name Intha is said to mean ‘children of the lake’, and most Intha people can be found living on or around Lake Inle in Burma’s Shan-State. Speaking a distinctive and unusual Burmese dialect, there is mystery over their origins in this area. The Intha are famous for their highly individual rowing technique. Fishermen wrap a paddle around one hand and leg and use this to propel the boat, while balancing precariously on the other. This position leaves them with one hand free, allowing them to drop a large conical net over passing fish in the shallow waters of the lake. Intha grow vegetables on ‘swimming gardens’ in the lake.InleLake_MichaelBiach-7110

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Krampus

Krampus, a frightening horned anthropomorphic mythical figure in alpine folklore, is widespread along Austria, southern Bavaria, South-Tyrol and parts of Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. In Austria, his major territory, he is accompanying holy St. Nicholas in early December. While saint “Nikolaus” is visiting well-behaved kids in order to reward them with sweets, fruits and nuts, “Krampus” is visiting the naughty kids and meant to punish them. The ancient customs are brought back to life every year when young men put on costumes made out of fur from sheep or cattle along with century-old wooden masks… only these days all kids seem to have been well-behaved over the year and only the grown-ups get beaten a little into being not naughty :)

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SREBRENICA – To give them their names back

On July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serb troops led by Ratko Mladic stormed through the UN peacekeeping enclave into the city of Srebrenica, executing over 8,000 Bosniaks, mostly men and boys. Now labeled a genocide, the event is considered the worst episode of European mass murder since World War II, and was the wake-up call for the West to push for the cease-fire that ended the three-year Bosnian conflict. Now, 19 years after the event, pieces of the bodies are still being found in over 300 mass graves, often in several different locations due to the perpetrators’ attempt to cover up the crime. Most of the identification work is done by the International Committee on Missing Persons (ICMP), established in 1996. The process of contacting family members is a psychologically stressful one from start to finish, as survivors re-live the agony of the loss while deciding to hold a funeral immediately or to wait until all the remains have been found. 6,066 victims have been buried so far during the annual anniversaries of the massacre in Potocari, Bosnia. The number of burials decrease every year, with 175 bodies buried in 2014.

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A Bosnian woman is mourning at the coffin of a close relative killed during the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. 

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Dragana Vučetić, Senior Forensic Anthropologist at the International Committee for Missing Persons (ICMP), with human remains from a Srebrenica-massacre related ‘secondary mass grave’. For four years now, ICMP has tried to extract DNA and connect it to blood samples in their databank. Sometimes it is not easy to extract DNA from bones, and often identification is not possible because of the lack of blood samples from relatives.

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A woman is fainting and another is weeping during the burial of a close relative at the 19th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

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The coffins with the human remains of Nermin (19) and Samir (23) Selimovic who were killed during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre are carried to their resting place.

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Nermin (19) and Samir (23) Selimovic who were killed during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre are laid to ground next to their father’s grave who had been identified a year earlier.

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In the mortuary of Tuzla’s Podrinje Identification Project (PIP) rest several hundred body bags with the remains of victims from the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The dead have been identified through DNA analysis but not yet all of their remains have been found. Sometimes family members of the killed victims decide to wait to hold a burial until all bones have been excavated. The identification process is complicated by the fact that in the days and weeks following the Srebrenica massacre ‘primary mass graves’ were unearthed and the remains buried in many different ‘secondary mass graves’ to cover tracks.

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Human remains from a secondary mass grave. Forensic anthropologists from Podrinje Identification Project (PIP) have tried to extract DNA from the bones and connect it to blood samples in ICMP’s databank. Until now they didn’t find a match. Sometimes it is not easy to extract enough intact DNA from bones, and often identification is not possible because of the lack of blood samples from relatives.

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Relatives of victims of the 1995 genocide are leaving from the commemoration by bus.

More images: Srebrenica – To give them their names back: http://goo.gl/eHtejV

All images are available for editorial use. If you are interested in buying my images please don’t hesitate to contact me.

For more images please vitis my website www.michaelbiach.com.

PORTRAITS OF STRENGTH – International Women’s Day

In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, I want to post a few portraits of women I have met during my recent projects:

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Adila Bijelic (62) and her family have been seriously affected by Bosnia’s landmine situation in multiple tragedies. Her husband Fehim got killed by a landmine in 1996. In another incident in late 2012 her son Ibrahim was badly injured while her 6-year-old grandson Tarik was fatally wounded and died in the arms of his father.

The world has forgotten us: http://goo.gl/ohSJxP

NGO Landmine Survivors Initiative: http://www.ipm-lsi.org/

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Daw San, lives in the remote mountains of Burma’s Chin-State. Chin women used to follow the thousand year old tradition of tattooing their faces. The tradition has official been banned by the government in the 1960s. “Today the girls, at least in Mindat, see the fading custom as an unattractive relic of the past and they are aware of outside beauty standards,” says Daw San with a cautious smile. Decades ago it would have been out of question for a man to marry an un-tattooed girl. “When I was a little girl”, she says, “it would have been impossible not get tattooed. Every woman was proud of her tattoo.”

Stolen Beauty: http://goo.gl/vqlgEz

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An elderly half-blind woman living in a makeshift home next to railway tracks in Bangladesh’s vibrant capital Dhaka. 

Life Along Railway Tracks: http://goo.gl/uPYs93

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A woman from Jaffna, Sri Lanka is selling fresh fish at a small market. 

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Dragana Vučetić, Senior Forensic Anthropologist at the International Comitee for Missing Persons (ICMP), with human remains from a Srebrenica-massacre related ‘secondary mass grave’. For four years now ICMP has tried to extract DNA and connect it to blood samples in their databank. Until now they didn’t find a match. Sometimes it is not easy to extract DNA from bones, often identification is not possible because of the lack of blood samples from relatives.

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Bosnian women mourning at the coffin of a relative prior to the mass burial at Potocari on the 19th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

Srebrenica – To give them their names back: http://goo.gl/eHtejV

 

All images are available for editorial use. If you are interested in buying my images please don’t hesitate to contact me.

For more images please vitis my website www.michaelbiach.com.