painter poet .com, website of Elizabeth Morag Emmerson, artist.
NEW GUEST EXHIBITION with addendum, all images © Irina Hale, 2009.
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Irina Hale is a Russian-Irish artist, born in London, who has been living in Italy for many decades. She is known particularly for her children's books and shadow theatre, and her fearless forays. Her collage work on the theme of children in war began in a white hot fury after the bombing of Afghanistan in 2001. Afterwards she travelled to Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan, with drawing materials for the children and a book of the famous stories about Mulla Nasrudin, which they turned into shadow plays. more... her own account.

Afghanistan, Collateral Damage 2002.
Afghanistan, little girl in a poppy field

"This poppyfield is not the paradise it appears. We get dizzy slitting these heads at dawn, and who gets the profit - the war lords, not us. During Taliban-time mothers stay at home; eat nan and drink chai, get bored out of their minds, take to drugs and some to suicide. Their babies are pale, they never see the sun."

Expanded World Drug Production as a Product of U.S. Interventions

from Afghanistan: Heroin-ravaged State by Peter Dale Scott
Global 8th May 2009.

Dennis Dayle, a former top-level DEA agent in the Middle East, has corroborated the CIA interest in that region's drug connection. I was present when he told an anti-drug conference that "In my 30-year history in the Drug Enforcement Administration and related agencies, the major targets of my investigations almost invariably turned out to be working for the CIA."[33]

The truth is that since World War II the CIA, without establishment opposition, has become addicted to the use of assets who are drug-traffickers, and there is no reason to assume that they have begun to break this addiction. The devastating consequences of CIA use and protection of traffickers can be seen in the statistics of drug production, which increases where America intervenes, and also declines when American intervention ends.

...The most dramatic case is that of Colombia, where the intervention of U.S. troops since the late 1980s has been misleadingly justified as a part of a "war on drugs." At a conference in 1990 I predicted that this intervention would be followed by an increase in drug production, not a reduction.[37] But even I was surprised by the size of the increase that ensued. Coca production in Colombia tripled between 1991 and 1999 (from 3.8 to 12.3 thousand hectares), while the cultivation of opium poppy increased by a multiple of 5.6 (from .13 to .75 thousand hectares).[38]

I am not suggesting that there is any single explanation for this pattern of drug increase. But it is essential that we recognize American intervention as part of the problem, rather than simply look to it as a solution.

mine hidden in doll, little girl

"The first thing they teach us at school is not to touch things we find in the fields. What looks like a doll could be a mine waiting to explode! How I long to touch her, all the same..."

Taliban executioners, 12 year old boy.

" I just exchanged a smile and a word with the American soldiers - and now I find myself with a rope round my neck to be hanged by the Taliban. Can they mean it? I am only 12, but I will die like a man, if I have to."

"We who are the tribe of Hazaras - the Taliban came one day and killed all our men, even the grandfathers who came to collect their sons' bodies. Now in our valley we can grow no more potatoes, but risk dying of cold and hunger. We have to shelter in caves dug out by monks centuries ago. The world wept when the huge Buddha figure at Bamiyan was destroyed by the Taliban. But who weeps for us?"

children return to the ruins of their home, Kabul

"The Pakistan army drove us out of the refugee camp at Peshawar, and we returned home to Kabul. But where is our home? Is this it?"

children searching rubbish for something useful

"The rubbish of the rich is the treasure of the poor. The world over, this is so. We'll see what we can find, and maybe sell. But some children get lesmaniosis on their skins from this job."

Afghan women and children homeless in the cold mountains

"The cold of our beautiful mountains, the wood to make a fire gets less and less. Where are the trees that once made Kabul an earthly paradise?"

baby bartered for a bag of rice

After the war mothers who had many children sometimes had to barter the youngest baby for a bag of rice, to feed the others. "Childless woman, whose face I cannot see because of your burka, be kind to my tiny girl...even if I never see her again."


enduring freedom without freedom

"'Enduring Freedom' is the name of this operation where young and old find themselves prisoners in camps far from home."

Operation Enduring Freedom? With John McCain and Barack Obama now arguing about widening the Afghanistan war and invading Pakistan, the TAPI natural gas pipeline has a better chance than freedom ever had. It would be an American-controlled cash cow that would hurt Iran. All the US needs to do is pacify Afghanistan with more troops (to safeguard TAPI) and balkanize Pakistan (to stymie IPI) while widening the war and antagonizing India. Freedom be damned. Freedom was never an option anyhow, especially when there's money to be made by endless war.
Operation Enduring Pipeline by Don Bacon, retired army officer and founder of the Smedler Butler Society.

refugees fleeing their mountain homes, Afghanistan

"We come away from the mountains that saw us born, as refugees who know not where they will die. Some men say "War is the salt of life". But not women and children, who taste only the salt of their tears..."

families living with landmines

"We can't grow anything for fear of the mines everywhere."

"When we got to where "home" once was, we built up something like a home from an old lorry without wheels. With a few mud bricks it really feels almost like a home once more."

"A Pakistani Koranic school of swaying boys, hot-bed for budding Talibans some say. But we don't understand what we're reading."

schoolgirls in a hidden school

"A hidden school for girls - we are so eager to learn, even if at times this is dangerous. But worth risking your life for!"

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

"A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness -
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!"

From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Massimo Mazzucco's film 'The New American Century'

Hells, Paradises and Paradoxes.
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