Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"If I Were A Poet...Anja Niedringhaus and Kathy Gannon" by Lepa Mladjenovic

(My blog has been unusable for several weeks; this afternoon my friend Maddy once again has gotten me back on line. There are still some problems--I can't seem to upload images--but I am grateful to have what I have. Joan, April 17, 2014) Monday, April 7, 2014 at 10:10 AM Dear Joan, Tijana, my friend, told me she had seen on your FaceBook page information about Anja Niedringhaus,a photographer from Germany. Yes, I am now three days thinking of her and her colleague, Kathy Gannon from Canada, a journalist who was badly wounded while sitting near Anja in the same car. I was trying to understand what had happened at that moment. Anja and Kathy were closely collaborating for the past two years on different matters of the war in Afghanistan. Anja was photographing and Kathy writing. This day they were heading to a remote place in Afghanistan where there is a high concentration of the Taliban. to report on the important elections this weekend. As usual, they chose to go where it is the most difficult for people to vote--as the Talibans are repressive beyond prediction. This was a regular check point where the car was stopped. All was calm and nothing seemed prolematic. Then, out of nothing, one young man in the uniform of the police with a machine gun saw the two white women in the car and opened fire. He was madly firing until Anja was dead in an instant and Kathy badly wounded. She is still in the hospital. The young man gave himself to the police a few moments after the shooting. The President of Afghanistan said he was sorry the next day. But Anja is dead. The amazon universe is crying. What was in the mind of this man? The poor miserable life that he had was in front of the two well fed women 'from America'--especially here where Americans are so hated among men in battle. The young killer proably could not imagine in his furthest dreams that these two women were supportive of his people. Not that they were not the 'Enemy'--but you know, we who have worked with violence against women for years know that in critical contexts men's first enemy is the woman near them. So, in a sad way, there is nothing new in this murder. But still, I can't believe it. He dared to misuse his male power of gun and uniform and act from his probable hatred he felt for these two women so unapproachable for him in real life. Radical feminists are so right to insist that hatred against women in one of the basic drives of patriarchial realities. After I learned what had happened to Anja and Kathy, I started to listen to Anja's talks on hte internet to relaize how wonderful a woman Anja Niedringhaus was. In the Bosnian papers many people remember her with great love and now sadness. She was a Godmother to a family whom she met in Sarajevo during the war. Everyone loved her. In the stories about her life, I heard discovered that she was 11 years younger then me, and that her first photos were of the dismantling of the Berlin War. After that her photo-stories came from our war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and then from Kosovo, she was all over my countries. As one of the rare women in war photography. If I was a poet, I would make her a poem to tell people of this incredible woman, who had chosen that her citizen courage was to use her privileges by telling of the great suffering of people in wartime. To side with the dispossessed so that they will not remain in silence. I think of how much tenderness she needed to be brave in the face of the total uncertainties of life and death, of her visions of solidarity that she was weaving with people in her journies to show our shared humanity in her photographs. Dear Joan, let us all never stop talking of such things. Yours, Lepa

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