Asia – A Week in Pictures 31 July 2011

August 1, 2011

Ramadan started in Asia on Sunday and Indonesia-based photographer Ahmed Yusef produced this beautiful image to mark the start of the most important period in the Muslim calendar. The viewer focuses on the young woman’s eyes as the red scarf draws you to her through a sea of swirling white created by a slow exposure. Also in Indonesia, Dwi Oblo’s picture draws you into the picture through  light and smoke to evoke a real feeling of people humbling themselves as they pay respects to their dead relatives as they also prepare for Ramadan.

Muslim woman attend mass prayer session “Tarawih”, which marks the beginning of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, at Al Markaz Al Islami mosque in Makassar, South Sulawesi July 31, 2011. Muslims around the world abstain from eating, drinking and conducting sexual relations from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. REUTERS/Ahmad Yusuf 

 Indonesian Muslims pray at the graves of their relatives in Bantul in central Java, July 25, 2011, ahead of Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Indonesian Muslims traditionally visit the graves of their loved ones before and towards the end of the holy month. REUTERS/Dwi Oblo

Pakistan Chief photographer Adrees Latif, Karachi-based photographer Akhtar Soomro and Peshawar-based Fayaz Aziz marked the year since the Pakistan floods to return to the area that was devastated by the disaster which forced millions to move in search of shelter, drinking water and food.   Adrees tracked down the people and scenes he photographed a year ago and using the format of combination pictures produced a revealing set of pictures that just won’t let you look away and prompts the question – how much better off are these people a year on? I was tempted to just to highlight the combination pictures but Akhtar’s picture of the crying child cradled in his father’s legs just too strong to leave out.

A combination photograph shows (L) marooned flood victims, including boy Mohammed Farhan, aged about 12, and Allah Dita, aged about 64, as they look to escape by grabbing onto the side bars of a hovering army helicopter which arrived to the village of Daya Chokha Gharbi to distribute cooked chick peas and rice to flood victims in Kot Adu located in southern Punjab’s Muzaffargarh district on August 7, 2010; and (R) Farhan and Dita, nearly one year later, pose for a portrait with residents from the same village in the same location, July 29, 2011. “All I was thinking was to save my life. To get out, ” said Dita, when asked what he was thinking while holding onto the side bars one year earlier. Dita, who had stayed behind to look after his house and livestock, managed to be pulled up into the helicopter and was reunited with his five children who had left the flooded village a few days earlier.  Last year’s floods killed 2,000, left 11 million homeless and affected the lives of another 7 million. Pakistan is still struggling to recover from $10 billion in damages to infrastructure, irrigation systems, bridges, houses and roads.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif

A combination photograph shows (L) Ikramullah, 37, as he returned to his pen to find his livestock killed from the 2010 floodwaters in Nowshera, northwest Pakistan, August 1, 2010; and (R) Ikramullah, 38, posing for a portrait in front of the same brick wall, almost a year after the floods ravaged one-fifth of the country, July 26, 2011. “Look at my calloused hands, I have been forced into labor, he said. “Businesses have shut down, there is no work here.”  Ikramullah and his 25-member family survived by taking refuge on a nearby hilltop from Thursday July 29, 2010 till Sunday August 1, 2010. Last year’s floods killed 2,000, left 11 million homeless and affected the lives of another 7 million. Pakistan is still struggling to recover from $10 billion in damages to infrastructure, irrigation systems, bridges, houses and roads.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif

 Sameer, a six-week old internally displaced infant, cries while lying on his father’s legs after arriving to higher grounds in Sukkur, in Pakistan’s Sindh province July 26, 2011. Sameer and his family took refuge along a highway after leaving their village near Dadu to escape this year’s monsoon season. Pakistan remains woefully unprepared for floods this year which a U.N. official said could affect up to 5 million people in a worse-case scenario. The 2010 Pakistan floods left some 2,000 people dead, 11 million homeless and another 7 million were affected. At its height, one-fifth of Pakistan was submerged. 

Fire and water are major aspects of many of the strongest images from Asia so I couldn’t help noticing the similarity between Romeo (Bobby) Ranoco’s image of the burning effigy of Aquino and Issei Kato’s picture of the swimmer at the 14th FINA world swimming championships in Shanghai, the eyes in complete focus as flames engulf the effigy and water envelops the swimmer.  As the world swimming championships close (see the full slideshow here) the training and practicing for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics continue in earnest.  Beijing-based photographer Jason Lee  shooting this picture of a disabled swimmer training, the angle of the wrist letting the viewer know that the athlete is disabled while at the same time it speaks to me of strength and determination.

Protesters burn an effigy of President Benigno Aquino during a protest outside the House of the Representatives in Quezon city, metro Manila July 25, 2011. Aquino delivered his second State of the Nation (SONA) address at the Congress opening on Monday. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Anton Goncharov of Ukraine competes during the men’s 800m freestyle heats at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai July 26, 2011.   REUTERS/Issei Kato

Wang Chao, 20, from the Yunzhinan Swimming Club for the handicapped, practises swimming during a daily training session at a swimming centre in Kunming, southwest China’s Yunnan province, July 30, 2011. About 30 disabled athletes from the club aged 10 to 22 are training for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The club was founded in August 2007. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Staying with the theme of water but jumping about the region geographically,  below are three other water-linked images that caught my eye. I liked Afghanistan-based photographer Ahmad Masood’s picture of the boy cooling himself in a waterfall, the weight of the water hammering down on his shoulders. Hopefully reports from the US military hinting at a pause in the violence as the Taliban take a break during Ramadan will prove to be accurate and we will be able to see more of this from Afghanistan. I love the interaction of  the children in the bizarre image shot by Nepal-based Navesh Chitrakar as boys use a coffin as a boat. The composition and perfect timing of all the figures in the riverside “landscape” put me in mind of the artist L S Lowry and his paintings of people in industrial northern Britain. The steam rising from the still waters of an old mining ventilation shaft in Kim Kyung-Hoon’s picture taken only 50 km from the crippled nuclear plan at Fukushima give it an eerie feeling that something is just not right here. The hot water has seeped to the surface as the earth’s crust shifted after the earthquake that created the tsunami that killed thousands.

An Afghan boy cools off under a waterfall in the town of Charikar, north of Kabul July 25, 2011. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Children bring out the empty coffin after using it as a boat while other children play at the bank of Bagmati River in Kathmandu July 25, 2011. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Steam rises from hot spring water which poured out from a ventilation opening of a disused mine at a residential area in Iwaki, about 50 km from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, July 28, 2011. As a result of an aftershock of March 11′s earthquake, about  58 degrees Celsius hot  spring water has begun pouring at the quake-hit residential area and local media reported it is a result of shifts in the Earth’s crust triggered by the earthquake. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

A busy week for the Korea team as Chief Photographer Lee Jae-Won and his team Truth Leem and Jo Yong-Hak as Korea was hit with flooding, mudslides and industrial unrest. At least 53 people are either missing or killed as heavy rain created flash floods in Seoul and created mudslides in surrounding areas. At the same time farmers decided to pour milk over themselves while dressed  in mourning clothes to protest over the price of milk, and thousands came out to support Kim Jin-Suk who has been barricaded in a crane for 200 days as she protests over layoffs.

Army soldiers remove mud as they work to restore a apartment damaged by landslide in Seoul July 28, 2011. South Koreans were cautioned about rogue landmines and explosives on Thursday after a series of deadly landslides in and around the capital Seoul swamped military sites, defence officials said. At least 67 people are dead or missing from the landslides and flashfloods caused by the heaviest rainfalls in a century to hit the Seoul region, home to about 25 million people.   REUTERS/Truth Leem

Dairy farmers wearing mourning clothes pour milk on themselves after setting fire to a mock-up funeral bier during a dairy farmers’ rally to demand the government raise milk prices in Seoul July 26, 2011. Thousands of dairy farmers also denounced South Korea’s free trade agreement (FTA) talks with the U.S. and EU at the rally.  REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak  

Participants fly paper lanterns during a rally to support labour activist Kim Jin-suk near shipyards of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC) in Busan, southeast of Seoul early July 31, 2011. About 10,000 people gathered in Busan from across the country to hold the peaceful rally, “Hope Bus”, held from Saturday to support Kim, 51, a member of the direction committee for the Busan office of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and a member of the labour union of HHIC. Kim has been holding a sit-in demonstration on a vessel crane at the shipyards of HHIC since January 6, 2011 to demand the company and government solve controversial mass layoffs of the shipbuilder.   REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

In Afghanistan the mayor of Kandahar Ghulam Haidar Hamidi was killed in a suicide bomb attack. Ahmad Nadeem’s picture of the funeral is far removed from Omar Sobhani’s picture of the ridiculous but maybe symbolic scene of men watching and betting on the puffed out chests of battling partridges in Kabul.

Afghans bury the coffin of Kandahar city mayor, Ghulam Haidar Hamidi, who was killed after a suicide blast in Kandahar July 27, 2011. Afghanistan’s Kandahar city mayor was killed in a suicide bomb attack on Wednesday, just two weeks after the assassination of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother in the same city created a power vacuum in the country’s volatile south.REUTERS/Ahmad Nadeem

Afghan men watch a partridge fighting competition in Kabul July 29, 2011. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

As a final round-up of pictures that have caught my eye I have to include Jason Lee’s picture of the fake IKEA store (hard on the heels of the fake Apple stores). Tyrone Siu’s bold portrait of CEO Richard Yeung showing only half his face as Yeung announces plans to double profit in three years in quite daring. Kham in Vietnam plays games with shapes with his weather picture. Andrew Biraj , who is based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, shot a series of pictures all structured  using the same composition showing people sleeping in the streets as vehicles pass behind them. I have included one of them for you to enjoy. And purely for your visual enjoyment two stand-alone feature pictures: the first from Nepal-based Navesh Chitrakar and one from Dinuka Liyanawatte, who is based in Sri Lanka.

Bags and shopping carts are seen at the 11 Furniture Store in Kunming, southwest China’s Yunnan province, July 28, 2011. The Chinese characters on the wall mean “It is more convenient to use me”. The store, which resembles an outlet of Swedish furniture giant Ikea, is one of a number of Chinese businesses replicating the look, feel and service of successful Western retail concepts.  To match Insight CHINA/BRAND-PIRACY  REUTERS/Jason Lee

Richard Yeung, chief executive officer of Convenience Retail Asia Ltd (CRA), poses after an interview with Reuters in Hong Kong July 28, 2011. Hong Kong-based CRA has set a target of doubling its net profit in three years, with revenue increasing by more than 50 percent, tapping growing consumer demand in China’s Pearl River Delta, Yeung said on Thursday. CRA, which operates chain stores in Hong Kong and Guangdong under brand names such as Circle K, is a sister company of Hong Kong-based global sourcing company Li & Fung Ltd .   REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

A woman with her umbrella crosses an overhead bridge in Hanoi July 31, 2011.  Tropical typhoon Nock-ten has landed into north-central Vietnam, killing one person, after killing at least 52 persons and leaving a path of destruction in the Philippines, local reported said. REUTERS/Kham

People sleep on footpath next to a road near a vegetable wholesale market at Kawranbazar area in Dhaka August 1, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

People set fire to the effigy of demon Ghantakarna to symbolize the destruction of evil as they celebrate the Ghantakarna festival in Bhaktapur July 29, 2011. According to legend, the demon was believed to “steal” women and children from their homes and localities. Ghantakarna was later destroyed by locals when they set fire to it. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Spectators watch as freestyle motocross stunt riders from Red Bull X-Fighters perform during their show at Galle Face Green in Colombo July 30, 2011.   REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

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