Monday, November 22, 2010

Concert in a bloody ground!

I normally go to southern Helmand province with US troops to cover the war between Taliban (Allah Soldiers) and US along with International troops who fight against terrorism, But this time Farhad Darya's team asked my fincee to photograph his concert in Helmand and i could go with her too!

Farhad Darya is a famous singer who normally sings in Persian (Dari in Afghanistan) and can not talk Pashto very well. Farhad Darya has been designated as the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) National Goodwill Ambassador for Afghanistan and he has worked a lot for rights and peace.

It was Friday (Nov. 19) that we went to Lashkar Gah stadium which is the central city of Helmand. I was shocked, thousands of men were gathered to watch and enjoy Farhad's concert. Some had arrived from neighboring provinces like Urozgan and Kandahar.

I and my fiancee who were working for Farhad, were scared a bit. every one in Afghanistan heard a lot of scary stories about Helmand. Wild Taliban who behead young Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and kill people easily, opium smuggler, IEDs which kill a lot of British and US soldiers in a year and many others.

We were respecting some bloody happening during the concert although we knew that people were body checked in three steps but who could control 7 to 8 thousands of people!

It was near Praying time and men start to pray every where. i saw some men exactly like Taliban faces, long beard, black turbans and wild faces. I asked my fiancee to go behind the stage that no one see her for her security. To be honest i scared a lot and my hands were shaken and my heart was shaken hardly.

Farhad came to stage and people start shouting and start pushing each other toward the stage. Some children were under the feet of the crowd but no one hurt seriously. Farhad had to stop for a while and i ran to him and i told him that he has to stop as children are in bad situation.

A man talk in Pashto and used some hard words and then crowd start to sit on the ground and it seemed that every thing is under control.

Farhad start singing and i saw that young men were so happy and most of them danced. Farhad was so excited and i could see it in his face.

A lot of young men gave him flowers, mostly plastic flowers and they were shouting and dancing and laughing. I have never seen this before in a Pashtun and southern province before. I never think that some day i would be witness for an event like this in Helmand!

It was a report in BBC about another operation started few days ago some where in Helmand which was not so far from Lashkar Gah! Sangin in south of this province still experiences a badly and hard fight between US Marrin and Taliban.

Mr. Ahmadi the Helmand governor spokesman denied any operation going on in Helmand but the next day i heard some sound of explosion in Lashkar Gah city when i was in governor guest house.

Helmad Governor Mr. Mangal was so excited after the concert and he came to stage and talked to people and gave a gift to Farhad Darya. People were so happy and i cried a bit when i saw that much happiness.

One of the song that Farhad sings was about rebuilding Afghanistan: "If i made you Hell, I will/can make you Paradise also" which made me cry.

Helmand is still a bloody province with a lot of poppy field and will be a hot ground for a while in Afghanistan war.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Front line and the rest...

Oct. 22 at 3 am: Willson Airfield.
Finally, US army decided to send us to South west of Kandahar in a place called Zari where was front line for a big "Push". We arrived in Siah Choi area at 3:20 am and we took off a military Chinook and run in the darkness to a half destroyed village house. Some US soldiers were gathered around a fire and warm themselves. I found an empty space on the ground and take out my sleeping bag and try to sleep but it was too cold and I could not sleep.
In the next morning we had to walk to another US check point with all of my baggage and then leave for a patrolling. I had to pass a small river with all of my baggage and cameras and there was no bridge, so we had to walk into the water and pass.

I went with a unit who were smiling to Afghan villagers and were nice to them while soldiers searching their House. A girl soldier with a dog just walk around the yard of Mananzai village's houses and then our Platoon leader talk about the security and Taliban with Afghan men and then we left. Some times we could see women sitting in the yard too and just look at us and some times some family offered us tea or fresh bread or raisins and the Platoon leader accepted and spend some times with them. When he start talking to villagers he took out the helmet. I clearly saw fear on the face of the people and specially little girls in the village. Some of old men complained about bombing with Jets and told us that their children scare during the night by the sound of heavy explosions.

We came back to out point in afternoon, our place to stay was a big village building called "Angoor Khana" means house of grapes and villagers use it to change grapes to raisins. Later i found out that US army destroyed some of these building to do not let Taliban to use them as a place to hide their weapon. There was no power or any thing to send my pictures then we all slept on the ground and clod weather. The girl soldiers and her dog both slept in one sleeping bag and it was so nice to see that moment. it was no light for me to take their photo and i also i did not want to disturb them by a lash light.

In early morning we had to move again to another check point. We started walking with all of our luggage again and i saw some of the US soldiers carried a lot of wights and some times became so tired. we had to walk from people's houses and field and because of IED we could not take the normal roads. after a 500 meters walk i saw US vehicle are coming and in the same time they were making another road from villagers farmer fields. The destroyed walls and Marijvana fields and made new roads. they took our baggage ant then i could walk easily with my cameras and could take photos.

When i arrived to our next station i saw one of the sadness pictures there Two Afghan young men were lying on the ground as their bodies were completely bloody. They walked on an IED. One of them had really serious injury in both leg. He was awake but he lost his moral and was so sad. the other young man had so bad injury in one leg but he would keep the other one and he was gone. Both were around 25 to 30. US Medevac helicopter arrived so fast and US soldiers put them into the helicopter and flying to KAF for treatment.

We could hear the sound of explosions every where. Most of them were controlled which US army found IEDs and explode them. We placed in a destroyed building again and we slept for the next day to move to another station. 

I will write again to let you know what happened the next days and what was the sad news.

See you later.