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Global Refugee Crisis: The Worst Sinc...
Beirut
By b.yaacoub
11 Jun 2015

June 20 is World Refugee Day.

In 2014, global refugee numbers were higher than they have ever been since World War II. In 2015, the problem has only gotten worse.

There are currently over 50 million refugees in the world and more than %50 of them are children. Approximately half of the world's refugees are from just three countries: Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia.

The response to this massive international crisis has been limited, with most refugee aid programs desperately underfunded. Amnesty International has called the lack of robust international response "A Conspiracy of Neglect." With little help on the way, the future of the world's displaced remains uncertain.

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WWII: Women of the Red Army 70 Years ...
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

This collection features portraits of women veterans of WWII who volunteered and were conscripted to serve in the Soviet Red Army. As Moscow filled up on May 9, 2015 to celebrate 70 years since Victory in what the Soviets called, and some Russians today call the Great Patriotic War, TTM contributor Jonathan Alpeyrie was able to meet and interview nine of these women, most of them grandmothers today, donning their military decorations for the festivities.

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Born in 1925, 90 year-old Nina has two children, five grand children, and 5 great grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in 1943 on the 4th Ukrainian front. At 16 years-old Nina was incorporated into a battalion following the army’s move Westward towards Prague, where she took part in the battle to retake the capital of Czechoslovakia in early 1945. During her time on the front she was in charge of various traffic regulation duties. 

“I took care of traffic regulations on the road leading to the front lines where vehicles and troops were passing," she recalls. She remembers also being afraid of the intense fighting going on around her at the time, especially in Western Ukraine where the fighting was very hard. "We fought for the unity of the Ukraine, and what is happening now is incomprehensible," she says sharply when asked about the current situation in Ukraine. "It is bad for everyone."

Born in 1924, 90 year-old Alexandra has two children and five grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in the town of Kalatch in the Voronezh region of central Russia, she was transferred to the front lines in December 1941, only 17 years old. 

“I was a nurse in a train hospital which moved along the front lines," she recalls. The hospital train would pick up the wounded and carry them back away from the fighting to field hospitals. “Some days, there were so many wounded soldiers that we were forced to travel on top of the train cars!” Alexandra remembers. In 1943, she fell ill and was sent to Tbilisi Georgia to recuperate. It is there that she met her future husband. “My most vivid memory was the day of our victory on May 9th 1945. We danced so much that day..."

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

 

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Women of the Red Army 05
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1924, 90 year-old Alexandra has two children and five grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in the town of Kalatch in the Voronezh region of central Russia, she was transferred to the front lines in December 1941, only 17 years old.

“I was a nurse in a train hospital which moved along the front lines," she recalls. The hospital train would pick up the wounded and carry them back away from the fighting to field hospitals. “Some days, there were so many wounded soldiers that we were forced to travel on top of the train cars!” Alexandra remembers. In 1943, she fell ill and was sent to Tbilisi Georgia to recuperate. It is there that she met her future husband. “My most vivid memory was the day of our victory on May 9th 1945. We danced so much that day..."

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Women of the Red Army 06
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1924, 90 year-old Alexandra has two children and five grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in the town of Kalatch in the Voronezh region of central Russia, she was transferred to the front lines in December 1941, only 17 years old.

“I was a nurse in a train hospital which moved along the front lines," she recalls. The hospital train would pick up the wounded and carry them back away from the fighting to field hospitals. “Some days, there were so many wounded soldiers that we were forced to travel on top of the train cars!” Alexandra remembers. In 1943, she fell ill and was sent to Tbilisi Georgia to recuperate. It is there that she met her future husband. “My most vivid memory was the day of our victory on May 9th 1945. We danced so much that day..."

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Women of the Red Army 07
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1931, 85 year-old Zinaida has one child, and one grand child. She was drafted in to the Red Army as part of a Ukrainian partisan outfit near the town of Hmelnick in Western Ukraine.

“I was 12 years-old when German soldiers took over our house. We fled to the forest with my brother Maxime. There, we managed to join a Communist partisan group," she recalls. “I would cook for the soldiers as well as provide important information for them by spying on German troops' movement. I remained with the same partisan unit for the entire war." By the end of the war, the group was hiding in the Carpathian Mountains. Her greatest memory of the war is the ‘Katioucha' song Red Army soldier sang when they liberated her native village, she tells us.

Zinaida left Ukraine in 2008 in order to join her only daughter in Russia to live together. When asked about the current conflict in Ukraine, she says, “I miss Ukraine a lot. We left some family there, and we are afraid of this new conflict."

"We will not return until the war ends," she says sadly.

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Women of the Red Army 08
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1931, 85 year-old Zinaida has one child, and one grand child. She was drafted in to the Red Army as part of a Ukrainian partisan outfit near the town of Hmelnick in Western Ukraine.

“I was 12 years-old when German soldiers took over our house. We fled to the forest with my brother Maxime. There, we managed to join a Communist partisan group," she recalls. “I would cook for the soldiers as well as provide important information for them by spying on German troops' movement. I remained with the same partisan unit for the entire war." By the end of the war, the group was hiding in the Carpathian Mountains. Her greatest memory of the war is the ‘Katioucha' song Red Army soldier sang when they liberated her native village, she tells us.

Zinaida left Ukraine in 2008 in order to join her only daughter in Russia to live together. When asked about the current conflict in Ukraine, she says, “I miss Ukraine a lot. We left some family there, and we are afraid of this new conflict."

"We will not return until the war ends," she says sadly.

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Women of the Red Army 09
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1930, 84 year-old Nakia has five children, and one grand child. During the war, she was forced to work in a factory, which produced spare parts for the war effort in Tirsa, Tartastan. Working in a factory as an 11 year-old for the war effort was a sacrifice for many reasons. Each day she had to walk 30 kilometers to “go to the factory from my village, and walk each night back the same way," she recalls. Some nights she had to work nights as the heavy losses incurred on the front lines required constant work. Her most difficult memory of the war was the lack of food.

“We had nothing to eat," she remembers. "We had to scrape the earth in a near by field in order to find roots and vegetables. I was scared, scared all the time," she admits. But when victory day arrived on May 9th, she felt this was the best gift one could have given her.

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Women of the Red Army 10
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1930, 84 year-old Nakia has five children, and one grand child. During the war, she was forced to work in a factory, which produced spare parts for the war effort in Tirsa, Tartastan. Working in a factory as an 11 year-old for the war effort was a sacrifice for many reasons. Each day she had to walk 30 kilometers to “go to the factory from my village, and walk each night back the same way," she recalls. Some nights she had to work nights as the heavy losses incurred on the front lines required constant work. Her most difficult memory of the war was the lack of food.

“We had nothing to eat," she remembers. "We had to scrape the earth in a near by field in order to find roots and vegetables. I was scared, scared all the time," she admits. But when victory day arrived on May 9th, she felt this was the best gift one could have given her.

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Women of the Red Army 11
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1927, 88 year-old Ivannikova has five children, 12 grand children, and 8 great grand children. During the war she was a military train conductor in Saratov in South East Russia.

“I was in a technical high school to learn how to drive trains when the war began," she remembers. She started to drive military trains in 1943. “Most of the time we would transport ammunitions to the front lines. But sometimes, we did not know what the cargo contained, as it was secret."

Though German planes never attacked her train, she remembers being scared all the time. “I used to have nightmares each night,” she recalls. She also remembers the day of victory. She cried a lot remembering the death of so many people, but said, “it was a great day for me, because we won, and the war was finally over.”

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Women of the Red Army 13
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1925, 90 year-old Nina has two children, five grand children, and 5 great grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in 1943 on the 4th Ukrainian front. At 16 years-old Nina was incorporated into a battalion following the army’s move Westward towards Prague, where she took part in the battle to retake the capital of Czechoslovakia in early 1945. During her time on the front she was in charge of various traffic regulation duties.

“I took care of traffic regulations on the road leading to the front lines where vehicles and troops were passing," she recalls. She remembers also being afraid of the intense fighting going on around her at the time, especially in Western Ukraine where the fighting was very hard. "We fought for the unity of the Ukraine, and what is happening now is incomprehensible," she says sharply when asked about the current situation in Ukraine. "It is bad for everyone."

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Women of the Red Army 14
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1925, 90 year-old Nina has two children, five grand children, and 5 great grand children. Drafted into the Red Army in 1943 on the 4th Ukrainian front. At 16 years-old Nina was incorporated into a battalion following the army’s move Westward towards Prague, where she took part in the battle to retake the capital of Czechoslovakia in early 1945. During her time on the front she was in charge of various traffic regulation duties.

“I took care of traffic regulations on the road leading to the front lines where vehicles and troops were passing," she recalls. She remembers also being afraid of the intense fighting going on around her at the time, especially in Western Ukraine where the fighting was very hard. "We fought for the unity of the Ukraine, and what is happening now is incomprehensible," she says sharply when asked about the current situation in Ukraine. "It is bad for everyone."

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Women of the Red Army 15
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1920, 94 year-old Nagaieva has one child, two grand children, and three great grand children. Nagaieva was drafted into the Red Army and sent to the front lines near Kursk where the Soviets were battling the German army in 1943. She contributed to the war effort as a dentist, following the Soviet army’s advance through Ukraine, Eastern Europe and finally into Germany where she took part of the fall of the Reichstadt in late April 1945.

When asked how she felt about the final victory on May 9th 1945, she smiles and says, “This May 9th, I had the impression of being 19 years-old again."

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Women of the Red Army 16
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1920, 94 year-old Nagaieva has one child, two grand children, and three great grand children. Nagaieva was drafted into the Red Army and sent to the front lines near Kursk where the Soviets were battling the German army in 1943. She contributed to the war effort as a dentist, following the Soviet army’s advance through Ukraine, Eastern Europe and finally into Germany where she took part of the fall of the Reichstadt in late April 1945.

When asked how she felt about the final victory on May 9th 1945, she smiles and says, “This May 9th, I had the impression of being 19 years-old again."

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Women of the Red Army 17
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1924, 90 year-old Maria was a volunteer nurse, treating Red Army soldiers on the front lines.

“When I learned about the German invasion of my country in 1941, I volunteered as a nurse in the 847th infantry regiment. Soon after joining the regiment, the entire unit was ordered to the front lines at Lipetsk in central Russia," she explains.

During the trip the regiment was attacked many times by German airplanes. Though out 1942 and 1943, she fought with the regiment into Ukraine and took part in the liberation of Kharkov, Kiev and Lviv. She continued her progress with the regiment into Germany in 1945 before being ordered towards Czechoslovakia to take part in the battle of Prague in early 1945.

“I have saved many lives as a nurse, but I was myself wounded twice," explains the veteran. “What is the hardest for me, is all the people I could not save. But I am very proud of my service to my country, defending it.”

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Women of the Red Army 18
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
09 May 2015

Born in 1924, 90 year-old Maria was a volunteer nurse, treating Red Army soldiers on the front lines.

“When I learned about the German invasion of my country in 1941, I volunteered as a nurse in the 847th infantry regiment. Soon after joining the regiment, the entire unit was ordered to the front lines at Lipetsk in central Russia," she explains.

During the trip the regiment was attacked many times by German airplanes. Though out 1942 and 1943, she fought with the regiment into Ukraine and took part in the liberation of Kharkov, Kiev and Lviv. She continued her progress with the regiment into Germany in 1945 before being ordered towards Czechoslovakia to take part in the battle of Prague in early 1945.

“I have saved many lives as a nurse, but I was myself wounded twice," explains the veteran. “What is the hardest for me, is all the people I could not save. But I am very proud of my service to my country, defending it.”

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Women of the Red Army 12
Moscow
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
08 May 2015

Born in 1927, 88 year-old Ivannikova has five children, 12 grand children, and 8 great grand children. During the war she was a military train conductor in Saratov in South East Russia.

“I was in a technical high school to learn how to drive trains when the war began," she remembers. She started to drive military trains in 1943. “Most of the time we would transport ammunitions to the front lines. But sometimes, we did not know what the cargo contained, as it was secret."

Though German planes never attacked her train, she remembers being scared all the time. “I used to have nightmares each night,” she recalls. She also remembers the day of victory. She cried a lot remembering the death of so many people, but said, “it was a great day for me, because we won, and the war was finally over.”

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Colonel Claude Mademba
Nimes
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
08 Apr 2015

Colonel Mademba fought in North Africa and Italy with British and French forces as an infantryman against German forces.

"On May 5th 1945, I fired my last shell from my Sherman tank at Hitler's Berghof complex," he said.

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Lahcen Majid
Saint Remi
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
08 Apr 2015

Lahcen Majid fought as an infantrymen in Italy as part of a Moroccan outfit attached to Free French forces, against the German army.

"On May 11th 1944, right before the last major push for Monte Cassino, I saw the entire countryside light up with an artillery barrage," he said. "By 2:00 a.m. hundreds of Allied soldiers were already arriving at our hospital to be treated."

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Joel D. Pasado
Los Angeles, CA
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
08 Apr 2015

Joel D. Pasado was a rebel fighter in the Philippines against Japanese forces.

"We surrounded the hospital," he said. "The defenders fought hard, as they had to fight room to room throwing grenades and using bayonets. On one occasion I stormed a room filled with Japanese soldiers. One tried to stab me, but was shot by one of my soldiers and was killed. He saved my life."

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Portrait of a Generation: WWII Vetera...
New York City, NY
By Jonathan Alpeyrie
07 Apr 2015

The Second World War was fought by an entire generation of men from more than 60 nations. Americans, Canadians, Russian, British, Chinese, South Africans and many others fought the Japanese, Spaniards, Italians, Germans, Slovaks and more, all were embroiled in a war which killed over 50 millions soldiers and civilians alike, making this conflict the bloodiest in Human history. The 1921/22-generation is today often known as a sacrificed generation, which fought for a various array of beliefs all intertwined in self-sacrifice and honor. In Germany alone 5.2 million soldiers were killed or missing in battle in a six-year period, Japan lost over 2 million men in combat, while the United States suffered 409 thousand men killed in action. However Russia holds the morbid record, with more than 10 million killed between 1941 and 1945. These astounding numbers show the brutality in which this war was fought in the air, on land and in the seas.

As a journalist, always in search for a certain historical truth within today’s framework, the stories of each of these men interviewed and photographed is a treasure of human perseverance. The project contains no pretense to judge or criticize the actions or decisions taken by these men, but it is rather a recollection of a period drastically different from ours. Their testimony is relevant in a historical sense, which should not be lost in time, as the next generations to come can and should learn from this generation.

The project itself differs from other veteran type shoots, in the sense that it tries to combine so many different nationalities. This combination was hard to achieve. It took no less than 5 years and travels to over 12 countries to meet, photograph, and interview these men. As a photojournalist, it was not only the photo shoot that was interesting, but also the search to meet these veterans, especially the ex Waffen SS and the foreign elements who fought within its ranks; and the more obscure nationalities who fought alongside major powers, like Croatians or Senegalese.

The photography project deals with as many nationalities as possible, for the simple reason that many nations were involved in the fighting. So far I have photographed Germans, Russians, Armenians, Karabastis, French, Belgium, Poles, Americans, Nepalese, Croatian, Czechs, Latvians, Japanese Americans, Pilipino, Hungarians and more…, which includes 221 men from 59 different nationalities.  Each man is interviewed on his experience through out the war. The goal of this project is to reunite as many veterans as possible from most of the nations involved in the Second World War.

FULL ARTICLE AND INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

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Meskhetian Turks: 70 years of exile
Sajavakho-Chokhatauri-Ozurgeti-Kobuleti
By TemoBardzimashvili
17 Oct 2014

During the Second World War, the Soviet Union deported around 100,000 Muslims from southern Georgia to the remote republics of Central Asia. The vast majority of them were from the Turkic Meskhetian ethnic minority, also known as Meskhetian Turks.

While no official reasons were given for their deportation, many researchers argue that under Joseph Stalin’s rule the Soviet government was suspicious about the Meskhetian Turks of the mountainous Georgian region of Samtskhe-Javakhet bordering Turkey, an undeclared ally of Nazi Germany.

Within a few days in November 1944, tens of thousands of people had to collect their belongings and move to Central Asia in cargo trains, with many of them dying during the trip that lasted for several weeks. They were settled in the Soviet Union’s central Asian republics during the harsh winter, in settlements from where they were not allowed to leave.

In 1956, three years after Stalin's death, Meshkhetians were granted the right to settle anywhere in the Soviet Union, except for Georgia. More than 60 years after their deportation, a few families managed to return to their homeland.

Some Meskhetians moved to Azerbaijan in 1958, in the hope of being as close to Georgia as possible. The very close similarity between the Meshkhetians’ language and customs on the one hand, and the language and customs in Azerbaijan on the other, helped them to blend in the Azerbaijani society easily.

Others went to Russia in the 1970s, while a small group of them managed to settle in Western Georgia in 1977. In the beginning of the 1990s, several groups of Meskhetians living in Uzbekistan moved to Turkey due to ethnic violence in the Fergana Valley. In 2004, a few thousand Meskhetians emigrated from Russia to the USA, where their number has grown to nearly 18,000 since then.

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Shirinbeili, azerbaijan
By TemoBardzimashvili
17 Oct 2014

Rana Rajabova, a 24-year-old bride form the Azerbaijani village of Shirinbeili, prepares herself for her wedding. Rana'€™s grandparents, natives of the Arali village in Georgia'€™s Adigeni region, were deported to Uzbekistan during the Second World War.

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Kutaisi-Baghdati-Abastumani-Benara, Georgia
By TemoBardzimashvili
17 Oct 2014

Meskhetian elders gather after their Eid-ul-Fitr (Ramazan Bayrami) prayer in Abastumani, Georgia. Most of them were teenagers when they were deported from Georgia in 1944 but they were able to return after more than 60 years.

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kant, kyrgyzstan
By TemoBardzimashvili
17 Oct 2014

Two girls whirl under plates of sweets during a wedding ceremony in Kant, Kyrgyzstan. According to tradition, this ritual brings prosperity to the new couple's life. The plates are usually layered with candies, cookies, apples, and a piece of butter bread called Kete topped with a lit candle.

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Октябрьская, Kant, Kyrgyzstan
By TemoBardzimashvili
17 Oct 2014

One of the groom'€™s best men dances with knives around the bride, jokingly asking gathered people: "€œshould we cut bride's tongue or head?"€ The regular answer is "tongue," which implies that the new wife and daughter-in-law should be obedient. The best man then takes the piece of folded cloth off the bride'€™s head using the knives, signifying that she is officially married.

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Октябрьская, Kant, Kyrgyzstan
By TemoBardzimashvili
17 Oct 2014

Portraits of Abdullah Gamidov, his wife Khalida, and her father Zia Chumidze lie on the checkerboard in the Emil Gamidov'€™s house in Kant, Kyrgyzstan. Zia Chumidze died while fighting on the frontline during the Second World War.

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abastumani, georgia
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

Ali Mekhriev poses next to the remains the mosque in Abastumani, Georgia. The mosque has been used as a cowshed for the past few decades because returning Meskhetians do not have the means to rebuild it. They conduct religious services at home.

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nasakirali, georgia
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

A Meskhetian woman stands outside her house in the village of Nasakirali, Georgia. The Soviet government deported around 100,000 Meshkhetians from Georgia during the Second World War, but some managed to return to their native areas in the 1970s.

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Istanbul, Turkey
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

Meylan and Jihangir’s' (left and middle) grandparents were deported from Georgia to Central Asia, but they had never met until they both moved to Istanbul to study at Boğaziçi University where they became friends with Kagan from Turkey (right). The three often meet and chat in the campus park, which overlooks the Bosphorus ,or play basketball.

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abastumani, georgia
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

Salim Khamdiev, originally from the village of Abastumani in Georgia, was 14 when he was deported to Uzbekistan. It was after more than 60 years of exile that he was able to return to his hometown.

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medrese, azerbaijan
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

A man from the Meskhetian community gathers donations on Eid-ul-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of fasting, at the mosque in the village of Medrese, Azerbaijan.

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kant, kyrgyzstan
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

Ramzila Partova, a woman from the displaced Meshkhetian community, wipes her teary eyes on her daughter's wedding day. Kant, Kyrgyzstan

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Medrese, Azerbaijan
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

Khalisa Sardarova, 16, serves tea to her future father-in-law (left, holding a cell phone) under her father's supervision. Usually, the groom'€™s father visits the future bride's family a few months before the wedding. During that time, the bride becomes part of her future husband's family but the groom cannot see her until the wedding day. Medrese, Azerbaijan.

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Kutaisi-Baghdati-Abastumani-Benara, Georgia
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

With the help of his old tractor, Alikhan Kuradze pulls a carriage filled with his family's belongings as they move to Abastumani, Georgia. It took the 76-year-old and his family almost seventy years to achieve their lifelong dream of returning to their native village. In 1944, Kuradze was nine years old when he was deported to Central Asia.

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Октябрьская, Kant, Kyrgyzstan
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

Emil Gamidov, 70, walks out of the room in his house in Kant, Kyrgyzstan as his wife holds the portraits of her parents, who were deported from Atskuri village in Gerogia. Gamidov was only three years old when he was deported from Georgia to Kazakhstan. Many years later, he moved to Bishkek to pursue his graduate studies. He still lives in Kyrgyzstan.

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Kutaisi-Baghdati-Abastumani-Benara, Georgia
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

This area was a Meskhetian cemetery until 1944, when most of the community members were deported. After the deportation, the cemetery was leveled and converted to agricultural land. Only a few of the gravestones can be seen today, like the one seen in this photo.

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baku, azerbaijan
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

A Meskhetian family build their house near Baku, Azerbaijan.

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Bishkek
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

Tahmina Gamidova, a lecturer at Ataturk Alatoo University in the Kyrgyz capital, wears a traditional Meskhetian robe at a cultural center for ethnic minorities. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

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Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

Farman Shakhbazov, an famous davul player in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, says he could barely sit when started drumming on the table with his palms as a child. His mom would even tie his hands so that he wouldn'€™t injure himself. Shakhbazo, who assembled his first drum kit from pots and pans, acquired both traditional and contemporary drumming techniques, which allowed him to join rock bands and win fame as a versatile drummer.

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Kiev Street, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
By TemoBardzimashvili
16 Oct 2014

Hasan Hamdiev runs a shop in Dordoi Market in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where he sells clothes imported from Turkey. Despite the recession in the job market and the tough economic conditions in Bishkek, the 23-year-old prefers staying there to leaving for Turkey in pursuit of a better job, unlike many other young Meskhetians of his age.

"€œThose of us who go to Turkey forget our traditions and just become Istanbul Turks," he says disapprovingly. "€œI want to remain a Meskhetian Turk."