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April 4th is the United Nations’ International Day for Mine Awareness.

Raphaël Dallaporta‘s Antipersonnel is a typology of these little fuckers that take doors off armoured vehicles and dice humans into small bloody portions.

Photographed against a black backdrop with the high production value of advertising photography, Dallaporta in some ways disarms us (‘xcuse the pun). Dallaporta’s work has some of them looking more like Tamagotchi’s than instruments of war. If we’re not careful, we might forget that for most of their existence these objects are either being put together in a factory, stored in cache or waiting to blow. They’re a one purpose gadget with only negative outcomes.

Human’s piece the deathly components together and then bury them under shallow soil in full knowledge they’ll exist quietly, perpetually, until someone or something presses down a medium amount of load. Yes, it’s all or nothing for these little fuckers.

But, I am anthropomorphising. These objects are not to blame. We are to blame. You can fire 1000 rounds from a gun and you cannot know how many will achieve their destructive purpose. But 1000 landmines are going to rip apart 1000 lives. They’re a guaranteed return. They are the absolute in nihilism and hate. That’s why it is important to distinguish antipersonnel mines from other weapons and that is why it is good the UN leads an effort to see them banned.

The UN:

Since the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, commonly known as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention opened for signature in 1997, 156 countries have ratified or acceded to it. More than 41 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines have been destroyed, and their production, sale and transfer have in essence stopped.

All images: Raphaël Dallaporta

This blog is 10 weeks old. At that same age an infant is lifting its head and neck without help, blowing bubbles, smiling and cooing. I reckon this blog is straining its neck, blowing hot air, cooing to no-one, but certainly smiling to itself. So, things look good. I’d like to propose a vague rhythm for my posts. Now, read carefully for I shall say this only once.

Every week or so you’ll see long, well-researched and edited pieces about critical prison issues. Between these “anchor” posts, to keep the juggernaut powering on the information-super-motorway, I’ll post items a little more flimsy. They’ll definitely be prison and photography related, and usually with great visuals and little text. This is a warning to all you early readers to decipher the serious stuff from the really serious stuff.

So, without further ado let me bring to you a quite incredible image. In browsing the United Nations’ official photography galleries I came across this curious image tagged as “Prison”

The container serves as a detention facility. Human rights and protection officers made an inspection of the capacity om sif police and prison service.  UNMOs from Torit were engaged in a long range patrol to Chukudum along with various civilian sections of UNMIS in order to assess the security and social conditions of the area.

The container serves as a detention facility. Human rights and protection officers made an inspection of the capabilities of the local police and prison service. UNMOs from Torit were engaged in a long range patrol to Chukudum along with various civilian sections of UNMIS in order to assess the security and social conditions of the area.

Sudan, at last count, with 12,000 prison inmates had the lowest prison population of any North African country. In fact, Sudan is doing very well at not locking its population away. It is joint fifth, with Angola, of all the African nations for the lowest prison population (36 per 100,000 people). Sudan is surpassed by Mali (34), Nigeria (33), Gambia (32), and Burkina Faso (at a mere 23 inmates per 100,000 people)! Source.

These figures should absolutely be compared to US figures where 1,000 of every 100,000 American adults are behind bars. 1 in every hundred US adults is under the jurisdiction of federal or state corrections! It’s madness, it’s broken and it’s costing a fortune. (I warned my politics might creep through every so often).

Torit and Chukudum are in the very southeast of Sudan, close to the borders of Uganda and Kenya. This site is over a thousand miles from the Darfur region. It’s even further to the border and refugee camps of Chad. I have no comment on Darfur here. I only wanted to point out that as we grasp and grapple to understand the people in the world around us and we conjure makeshift plans and patchwork solutions, sometimes they involve small personal sacrifices and sometimes they involve locking other human beings in shipping containers.

As of August 2002, Sudan had 125 sites of incarceration – 4 federal prisons, 26 local government prisons, 46 provincial prisons, 45 open and semi-open prisons and 4 reformatory centres for juveniles. I wonder what the nomenclature is for this box? The picture was taken in April, 2007 by Tim McKulka, who has also done some photography covering the Angola Prison Rodeo in Louisiana, an event of which I have opinions. Indeed, I have a piece up my sleeve on my hard drive, awaiting…

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