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"POUR NE PAS OUBLIER" -- "NOT TO FORGET"

(14 to 19 January, 2002) Following the tragic events of September 11th the world has truly changed. The terrorist attack that destroyed the World Trade Center shocked and moved most people with conscience of the world. The attack was full of consequences, political, religious, economic, philosophical and strategic.

On that infamous day of September 11th our hearts stopped beating and our eyes were not big enough to look at the horror on live television - a horror created by a group of terrorists that declared they were Muslims fighting for Islam.

And the paradox of the September 11th attacks is that Afghanistan has been the victim of similar horrors for some 23 years. Afghanistan only caught the world's attention following September 11th.

POUR NE PAS OUBLIER Photograph exhibition by International Review and Harry Hayes.

For centuries, Afghanistan had stood in the path of great invaders, from Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan to Tamberlan and Nadir Shah. Most of those passing through Afghanistan left precious signs of their passage. Afghanistan had kept all those historic artifacts with pride and tolerance, which created a part of its rich cultural and legendary past.

The Buddha's of Bamiyan were one such witness of this wealthy passage until March 8, 2001 when the Taliban destroyed this centennial and peaceful presence in Afghanistan. These 2 great monoliths date back as far as 250-300 A.D.

The absurd and inhumane atrocities carried out by the Taliban (literally "religious students" or "seekers of truth") against the Afghan people became known to the international community, but the world did not respond nearly strong enough. Recent memories of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge and its leader Pol Pot come to mind.

Afghan music. Afghan music in tribute to victims.

The Taliban and the terrorist group al-Qaida, not satisfied of having oppressed the Afghan people, then carried out a suicide attack against Commander Massoud, the charismatic Lion of the Panjshir Valley. He was murdered on September 9th, two days prior to the attack against the United States.

Ahmed Shah Massoud defended Afghanistan from the enemies of Afghanistan for more than 23 years, bringing to his struggle the regions of the north of the country -- the Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Hazaris and the Panchiri. He was a cultivated man, sensible and a great leader. His death happened at a very crucial time for Afghanistan and his death was very much regretted by the Afghan people and his troops.

The attack on the Twin Towers with more than 3,000 deaths -- the Pentagon attacks as well as the plane crash in Pennsylvania -- showed the world that a terrorist network falsely using the name of Allah and that of Prophet Mohammed continued to carry out a war against civilians and against humanity. These terrorist cells have infiltrated many countries of the world, choosing the poorest of them for their training camps.

Solidarity in Geneva. Solidarity in Geneva for freedom from terrorism.

The horrendous attacks against the United States brought the attention of the world to a forgotten Afghanistan. The International Review, which had often supported Afghanistan in the darkest moments of its recent history, decided to give a tribute "pour ne pas oublier" ("Not to Forget") to this helpless people, to the women -- living prisoners under their chadiri -- and to those children and men condemned to live in a world where even laugher was condemned. A tribute to the victims in the United States and in Afghanistan.

A photo exhibition on Afghanistan was held in Geneva's ForumMeyrin from the 14 to the 19 of January, 2002.

SaSa & Harry Hayes speaking with Father Jean Paul de Sury. SaSa & Harry Hayes speaking with Father Jean Paul de Sury.
Photographs taken by Harry Hayes between 1988 and 1991 in Kabul, Paktia Province, and the various Afghan refugee camps on the Pakistani border of Afghanistan were presented to the public. A tribute was also given for the victims of the 11 of September attacks in New York and the Pentagon with photographs showing the hell of steel and concrete in New York and Washington. It showed the people under fire, both in the United States and in Afghanistan.

A sign of hope came from photographs taken in November 2001 by photographers of the Associated Press in Kabul, where children dare to laugh again and some women lift the veils of their chadiri to look at the world that finally listens to them.

This exhibition was an enormous success and there was a sign of true concern from the public and officials who wanted to know more about the recent tragic events and about Afghanistan. Numerous officials from Geneva and a huge public display of support created an atmosphere of solidarity once again. Special thanks to Geneva's Television Leman Bleu for its special 15 minute news coverage and interviews with the organizers and participants of the "POUR NE PAS OUBLIER" photograph exhibition.
S. Vallorani

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