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Chinese Opera 12
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

A member of Lao San Zian Sung performs Chinese opera during the Vegetarian Festival in the heart of Bangkok's Chinatown. A show can run for five to six hours.

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Chinese Opera 11
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

Members of Lao San Zian Sung performs Chinese opera during the Vegetarian Festival in the heart of Chinatown's Bangkok. Their shows usually run for five to six hours. The itinerant Thai-Chinese opera troupe The Lao San Zian Sung Thai-Chinese opera troupe has been performing since the mid-1960s.

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Chinese Opera 09
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

A thai little girl carefully watches a play by the members of Lao San Zian Sung.

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Chinese Opera 08
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

A member of Lao San Zian Sung is seen in the backstage ready with her makeup and costume to take part in the show. Despite busy activity backstage, performers always remain in character.

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Chinese Opera 04
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

A member of Lao San Zian Sung waits his turn to take part in the show.

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Chinese Opera 02
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

A member of Lao San Zian Sung gets ready backstage. Performers need to be physically and mentally ready since the show lasts for hours.

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Chinese Opera 01
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

Members of Lao San Zian Sung performs Chinese opera during the Vegetarian Festival. The Thai-Chinese opera has about 30 members and some have been with the troupe since the early beginnings in the 1960s.

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Chinese Opera 15
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

An opera performer gets ready before the show.

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Chinese Opera 06
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

Chinese opera performers are seen in the backstage waiting their turn to take part in the show.

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Chinese Opera 03
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

A member of Lao San Zian Sung waits his turn to take part in the show.

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Chinese Opera 05
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

A member of Lao San Zian Sung is seen in the backstage ready with her makeup and costume to take part in the show. Colours are used to portray a character's role and illustrate their emotional state.

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Chinese Opera 10
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

Space backstage is limited, so the artists have to take turns applying makeup and getting dressed.

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Chinese Opera 07
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

A member of Lao San Zian Sung is seen in the backstage before the show.

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Chinese opera struggles to survive ne...
Bangkok
By Biel Calderon
24 Sep 2014

Lao Sa Jia Sung, an itinerant Thai-Chinese opera troupe, has been performing Teochew Opera, an slight variation of Chinese Opera, since the mid 60’s. Some of them are part of the troupe since the early beginnings of the company.

Traditional Chinese opera is one of the oldest performing arts in the world. The opera dates back to China's early history with its importance ramping up in the 13th century during the Song Dynasty. This ancient art combines drama, music, literature along with acrobatics and martial arts.

It is hardly seen on stage in Thailand in the 21st century, except during the Vegetarian Festival, the Chinese New Year and other holiday periods, always around Chinese temples and shrines. Modern forms of entertainment, like TV Soap Operas and the Internet, are widely established within Thai society, thus it is very difficult for traditional opera groups to attract new public. Despite the difficulties in gaining new audience and, therefore, funding, Chinese opera resists disappearing and keeps performing in the Southeast Asian country.

Lao Sa Jia Sung recently performed during the eleven days of the Vegetarian Festival at the Chinese Jing Sia Ma shrine in the heart of Bangkok's Chinatown. The team, consisting of about 30 members, delivers a delightful daily show for its mostly Thai-Chinese audience, combining literature, theatre and musical performance, with plenty of old fashioned entertainment. They spend most of the time together, working full time for the company.
Performers spend several hours a day applying makeup backstage and getting into character. "With our commitment with this performing art, there is no room for tiredness", one of the performers says. They need to be physically and mentally ready since each performance lasts for about five hours.

Now, they are on the road again. The troupe will now travel around Malaysia for the next six months. They will come back to Thailand after the Malaysian tour. Despite their difficulties, the members of Lao Sa Jia Sung show strong enthusiasm and fight to keep alive this ancestral form of Chinese art and entertainment. As one of the performers stresses, “It's our way of life.”

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Protecting an Ancient Damascus Synagogue
Damascus
By Abdu al-Fadel
19 Sep 2014

September 19, 2014
al-Madares Street, Jobar, Damascus

Local citizens protect and maintain an ancient Jewish synagogue in the besieged Damascus suburb of Jobar, despite the heavy damage inflicted on it by heavy clashes between the FSA and Syrian Army. Located at the end of al-Madares street, the synagogue is believed to date from 720 BCE and was a temple for the prophet Khedr and prophet Elias.

The monument was largely neglected by the Syrian government before the war and has been damaged many times with mortars and bombs during the war. However, its local caretaker, and the inhabitants of the area continue to care for the building, as they have for decades.

Shot list:
Various shots show the location of the synagogue and the damage to the building.
Various shots show the remains of the synagogue, such as historical artifacts and some ancient writings
Various shots show an underground chamber that is said to have been used by prophet Khedr to pray
Various shots show the massive destruction that happened around the synagogue

Sound Bites:
Abu Loay, a member of the local committee of Jobar, interested in the issue of the synagogue, explains the story of the synagogue from its establishment to the present day.
(00:39)

Interviewer: How long have you had this job?

Abu Loay: We have been taking care of the synagogue for the past 2-3 years. There used to be a guard here, but he left after the problems started, and then the inhabitants of the area left, so we came here, the men and myself. We are taking care of it. The citizens and the elderly of this town asked us to stay here and guard the synagogue and until now, it has not been attacked.

Interviewer: How was the synagogue looking when you started working here?

Abu Loay: It was amazing, it had fence and it was an ancient historical monument, it goes back thousands of years.
Interviewer: Were there any Jews living in the area?

Abu Loay: Here in Jobar we did not have any Jews, but back in the days of our grandparents, we used to have Jews. When I was a child, I remember there was a big percentage of Jews in the Jewish street. They used to come every Saturday from the Jewish street to visit the synagogue here. When Israel was established, many of the Jews left, that was along time ago.

Interviewer: Were there huge numbers of Jews in Damascus?

Abu Loay: Yes of course, they all used to live in the Jewish street, an area named the Jewish street, in the old city of Damascus.

Interviewer: When did they leave and where did they go?

Abu Loay: Most of them went to Israel, the government back then gave them a choice, to either stay here or leave, and a lot of them chose to leave.

Interviewer: How was the synagogue destroyed?

Abu Loay: About two years ago, from the side of Harasta, they [Syrian Army] attacked us with the multiple rocket launcher. Over 15 shells were dropped at the same time. I took footage of the incident and then I tried [to expose the attack], I went to many media outlets, trying to call the Jews to come and protect the synagogue, but nobody responded. They [Syrian Army] hit the ceiling in two spots and the kitchen burnt down.

Interviewer: Why did you keep protecting the synagogue if the Jews themselves did not respond and did not come to protect it?

Abu Loay: First of all, the synagogue is located in my town, I am from Jobar. Secondly, it is a legacy, not only for the Jews, but also for us. It is a legacy for the citizens of Jobar. It is thousands of years old and it is as valuable as any church or mosque.

Interviewer: Being here in the synagogue, do you feel any attachment to this place?

Abu Loay: I swear I feel like it is my own home. I was sleeping right here, with my wife and children, and if I have to go somewhere I lock the place up. I was residing here for about six months.

Interviewer: How did you feel when the synagogue was attacked and destroyed?

Abu Loay: I felt like I lost a piece of my heart. Only someone who lives here will understand the true value of this synagogue.

Interviewer: Do you think there is a way to repair the synagogue?

Abu Loay: In this condition, all of this wreckage must be removed, they destroyed it. Go back to the old pictures of the synagogue and compare, it used to be heaven.

Interviewer: Do you speak Hebrew?

Abu Loay: No I only speak the language of Jobar.

Interviewer: Do you mind escorting us on a tour around the synagogue?

Abu Loay: Of course, I do not mind, let’s take the tour.
(04:28)

(04:33) Here there used to be the main door, and there, it used to be a kitchen. There is the room I used to sleep in.
This room was an office and I used to sleep in it. The women used to sleep upstairs, and this was a storage room. The main temple is in the back. This is the only tree that is still living.

(05:44) This is a new building, and there were rooms and the rooftop.
That used to be the entrance of the synagogue, and there use to be two rooms up there. And there was a water well.
Can you see this slot in the wall, they used to store the oil cans in their. Near the pile of rocks there used to be the alter. Those two chambers are completely destroyed.

(07:17) Look at the pigeon nest in the gap in the wall. That was here before the shelling.
This is an old school, and there used to be a wall here, the old school is for UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency].
There used to be a room, then a small hall and then another room, all ancient.
This carpet is from the remains of the temple, they used to love those colors, our brothers the Jews. This is another one, everything valuable we were able to find after the destruction, we removed it.

(08:39) Here used to be a huge bronze round plate, and here is the step of the prophet. Here they used to keep the oil, here they used to have books, and there was the seating area. The building was ancient and the temple had a very high ceiling.

(09:30) Here, where I am walking, used to be the few steps leading to the alter. Where I am standing now is the location of the alter. It was about half a circle and made out of wood and the chandeliers above it, it used to be amazing.

(10:20) Those gaps in the walls used to have frames, and here used to be a painting, and next to it a bronze box labeled "Charity".
And here, as we said before, they used to keep the oil.

(11:28) Here is the prayer chamber, our grandfathers used to say that the prophet Khedr used to come to pray here. This hole in the ceiling was an air vent for this chamber, but the shelling has destroyed most of the room.

(12:21) Look what the destruction did to it. The last time they dropped vacuum bombs on this area, the buildings around the synagogue were also destroyed.

(12:41) There used to be four candlesticks and a chair, an antique chair, they are not destroyed, we preserved them.

(13:05) This is the wreckage of the synagogue. They [Syrian Military] attacked us with many types of weapons, including jets. The last airstrike, they dropped vacuum bombs on us and destroyed all of the buildings.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Bardarash, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

For the Iraqi woman who finds herself with dependent children and without a male figure at her side, security becomes a constant worry in addition to the emotional and psychological destruction visited on them by the Islamic State. Keeping in touch with friends and relatives helps distract them and maintain a sense of community.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

The living conditions of minorities persecuted by the advance of Islamic State militants can be read on the faces of refugees no matter their age. Despite this extreme hardship, the hope that their children will be able to build a better future keeps them going.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
20 Aug 2014

Forced migration is in some cases synonymous with survival. These women were found after escaping from an armed group. Young and old, none of them are safe, they say.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Bardarash, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

In this makeshift refuge, the little ones spend most of their hours stretched out on the floor in the corridors or in empty classrooms of the school.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

Aid from local associations has not been enough to support the Shabak community living in Rovia's mosque. A woman needs to move for the night between the cars parked outside.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

Recognized as an ethnic minority in 1952, the Shabak are now on the run from the militias of the Islamic State. They have already experienced persecution in the past, notably by the regime of Saddam Hussein. 70 families of them take refuge in this mosque from their latest threat.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

A Shabak man is sick, lying on a rug while a woman tends to him, as the public hospital can only be reached in the morning. During the day, temperatures reach around 45 degrees.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

An elderly woman prepares to cook dinner, shielding the fire with wooden panels. Inside the mosque there is no pavement, making hygiene a challenge.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

In the tiny village of Rovia a few miles from Mosul, a city currently under control of the Islamic State, the Shabak community has found refuge in a mosque under construction. Inside the community, the proportion of children to adults is very high. The adults hope to spare their children from the psychological trauma of war.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Lalish, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

The temple Lalish is situated to the north of Mosul. It is a place of pilgrimage and an important sanctuary for Yazidis. After IS captured Bashiqua and other nearby villages, many people have sought refuge at the temple monitored by Peshmerga fighters who control the entire district of Sherkan. The Yazidi community has opened its doors to refugees allowing them to settle down within the sacred place, aided by NGOs providing tents and relief supplies.

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Flee, protect and resist: Iraqi women...
Rovia, Iraq
By Arianna Pagani
19 Aug 2014

Shabak women are preparing for the evening meal in a mosque along the road that leads to Mosul. With only moonlight available, people who sleep outside must cook, eat, and wash quickly.

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The Bonbori Festival of Kamakura in J...
Kamakura
By Alessandro Di Ciommo
06 Aug 2014

400 bonbori illuminate the garden of the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shinto temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa, the ancient capital of Japan.

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The Bonbori Festival of Kamakura in J...
Kamakura
By Alessandro Di Ciommo
06 Aug 2014

The Shinto prayer is performed by throwing coins in a box placed at the front of the temple.

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Yezidi Minority Fear Persecution in I...
Nineveh
By rsoufi
08 Jul 2014

July 6, 2014
Doghat village, Nineveh, Iraq

Video shows the shrine of Sheikh Mohamad al-Bateni, a Yezidi temple in the Doghat village of Nineveh, north of Mosul.
Sheikh Ismail, the custodian of the shrine, performs rituals and speaks about the changing situation of the Yezidi minority in Iraq, after extremist Sunni militants took control of Mosul and vast swathes of Nineveh province.

Despite the concerns of Sheikh Ismail for the safety of all minorities in the area, Doghat is now controlled by Peshmerga forces, which he says ‘provide us with protection’. However, a video previously released by ISIS shows captured Yazidis in an ISIS prison located on the Iraqi-Syrian border. An ISIS fighter in the video states ‘the prisoners are Yazidis, they worship the Devil’.

The Yazidi religion is an ancient oriental belief mostly spread in areas of Mesopotamia. They worship Melek Taus and believe he is a proud angel who rebelled and was cast into Hell by God. After being reconciled with God, he became chief of the angels.

Transcript:

Sheikh Ismail: “The Yezidi live mostly in Baghdad. There they own shops and work. In the first attack against the Yezidi, seven people were killed. Another attack happened last year and eight people died. In the current situation they kidnap the Yezidi.”

Interviewer:
Does kidnapping happen in this village?

Sheikh Ismail: “Yes it happens in this village and in all other villages. A lot of kidnapping happens. They look at IDs and kidnap people.”

Interviewer:
Is a Yezidi person in Mosul afraid to say he is Yezidi?

Sheikh Ismail:
“Yes of course! He says he is Christian. Of course a Yezidi person fears to say he is Yezidi.

To be honest the situation is scary for the Yezidi sect, and for the Christians and for all the other minorities. They destroy our shrines, and it is a scary thing. The Yezidi sect is tolerant of all other religions but ISIS and the rebels attack the villages and say “they are Yezidi or they are Christian” and it is a scary thing, However, our area, the Christian area, is under the protection of the Peshmerga. If Section 140 is applied we are under the control of Kurdistan. Under these circumstances we are not afraid, we are under the protection of the Peshmerga and the central protection forces.”

Interviewer:
As a man of religion, are you willing to carry a weapon and fight and defend your religion and your land, if an attack happens?

Sheikh Ismail:

“I am willing to defend my village, my honour, and my shrines. Me and every person who listens to me. If, God forbid, anything happens and they want us to leave the area, we would rather die than leave. We will defend our village, our shrines, and our dignity with everything we have. We already had to back in the war between Iraq and Iran. Didn’t we defend Iraq? Didn’t the Christians defend Iraq? But you do not understand whatever the situation is, whether it’s ISIS, rebels, or the government not doing its work, Sunni or Shiite, the civilians are always afraid. The Yezidi are not emigrating now, but they are considering immigrating to foreign countries, for the sake of their future. Whoever lives in Baghdad and in those areas, definitely considers immigrating if they are able to do so”.

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Kalimandir - Hinduism and "Babas" of ...
Rome
By Francesco Pistilli
18 Sep 2013

Manohar Nath, a sadhu born in Milan, with an Italian sadhu on the left who is a chela of Yogi Krishnanath at Kalimandir.

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Kalimandir - Hinduism and "Babas" of ...
rome
By Francesco Pistilli
11 Sep 2013

Yogi Krishnanath decided to build a Hindu temple on a field belonging to his family and inside his own home.

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Kalimandir - Hinduism and "Babas" of ...
Rome, Italy
By Francesco Pistilli
10 Sep 2013

Cesar Baba, Baba Cesare Visiting Kalimandir Temple. Cesare was born in Sicily, Italy.
He lived 25 years in a cave, His cave in Hampi (India) was high up in the hills, with a garish painting of Shiva adorning the rocky entrance. He is actually the older italian sadhu livig in India.

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Vanishing Tibet 8
Tibet
By Berta Tilmantaite
11 May 2013

Tibetan man in traditional outfit is spinning praying mills next to the Buddhist temple in Lhasa, Tibet.

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Palestinian Protest on Jerusalem Day
Jerusalem,
By U.S. Editor
08 May 2013

Palestinian protestors confronted Zionists on Jerusalem Day in front of Damascus Gate. Arrests where made by Israeli security forces

Jerusalem Day is a holiday that commemorates the establishment of Israeli control in 1967.

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Palestinian Protest on Jerusalem Day ...
Jerusalem
By Carlos van as
08 May 2013

Palestinian protestors confronted Zionists on Jerusalem Day in front of Damascus Gate. Arrests where made by Israeli security forces .

Jerusalem Day is a holiday that commemorates the establishment of Israeli control in 1965.

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Palestinian Protest on Jerusalem Day ...
Jerusalem
By Carlos van as
08 May 2013

Palestinian protestors confronted Zionists on Jerusalem Day in front of Damascus Gate. Arrests where made by Israeli security forces .

Jerusalem Day is a holiday that commemorates the establishment of Israeli control in 1965.

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Palestinian Protest on Jerusalem Day ...
Jerusalem
By Carlos van as
08 May 2013

Palestinian protestors confronted Zionists on Jerusalem Day in front of Damascus Gate. Arrests where made by Israeli security forces .

Jerusalem Day is a holiday that commemorates the establishment of Israeli control in 1965.

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Palestinian Protest on Jerusalem Day ...
Jerusalem
By Carlos van as
08 May 2013

Palestinian protestors confronted Zionists on Jerusalem Day in front of Damascus Gate. Arrests where made by Israeli security forces .

Jerusalem Day is a holiday that commemorates the establishment of Israeli control in 1965.

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Palestinian Protest on Jerusalem Day ...
Jerusalem
By Carlos van as
08 May 2013

Palestinian protestors confronted Zionists on Jerusalem Day in front of Damascus Gate. Arrests where made by Israeli security forces .

Jerusalem Day is a holiday that commemorates the establishment of Israeli control in 1965.