True Horror: The United States Versus the World


Halloween is a spooky celebration that happens every year on October 31st in a number of countries. It is a laid back, candy-filled holiday. Trying to win “Scariest Costume" or "Funniest Costume" at parties, going trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving are just a few of the many activities practiced. Halloween is a carefree celebration of everything horror related.  It marks the beginning of the Autumn holiday season, when the weather starts to cool down, and the leaves are turning into brilliant muted rainbows.

This Halloween-themed four-piece photo series titled “True Horror” doesn’t explore witches, ghosts, or goblins. Rather, it depicts the true horrors of the world and the stark contrasts between certain horrors of the United States versus those of other countries. In some parts of the world, one faces horrors such as the Rohingya Muslim rcrisis or the Somalia truck bombing. In otherplaces, the horrors people face are generated by power and money hungry men like Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein.



“I think it's important to show the horror we face in reality and what we see in the news -- especially after the terror attack in New York City Halloween this year ” said artist Llina Bhatia.


"I painted this picture-style representation of the camps where the Rohingya Muslims found refuge. The low saturated and blurry background of the picture focuses on the clear and simple message I want to deliver through this piece : stop the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar."
          
The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority from Myanmar's Rakhine state, near southern Bangladesh, where they number 1.1 million and represent nearly a third of the population..  Although the crisis has intensified in recent months, Myanmar’s government has since the late 1970s forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee their homes by establishing discriminatory policies. Most of them have crossed by land into Bangladesh while others have fled by sea to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

The ethnic group has been called the "world's most persecuted minority" suffering restrictions on marriage, family planning, employment, education, religious choice, and freedom of movement. Myanmar's government does not recognize the Rohingya as lawful citizens. As a result the majority of them have no legal documentation, making them stateless and vulnerable.

The recent mass migration was caused by clashes that broke out in Rakhine in August 2017 between the militant group known as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and government forces, killing more than five hundred people. After ARSA claimed responsibility for attacks on police and army posts, the military started a violent campaign that destroyed hundreds of Rohingya villages and forced 500,000 or approximately half of the Rohingya population to leave Myanmar.


Here are some of the organizations responding to the Rohingya refugee crisis:
BRAC
Unicef
UNHCR

    "With this cartoon style piece, I wanted to show the contrast, through colors and brushwork, of the events that western countries like the United States and other developing countries face. While thousands of people are suffering around the world, the majority of Americans are stuck in a Trump-bubble.”

Since taking the oath of office as President of the United States in January, 2017, Donald Trump has been a controversial President.  He has been criticized by many across the political spectrum, including several from his own party, about his conduct as President.  While the topics of criticism have been multiple, what makes Trump different from past Presidents is that many of those criticisms have focused on topics such as using the Presidency to support his business interests, attacking the freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary. In the first few days of November, there were several more examples including his public denunciation of the justice system as a “joke” and “laughing stock,” rapidly demanding the execution of the suspect in the New York terror attack, and calling on the FBI and Justice Department to investigate his political opponents.  

At the same time, at a time when sexism and the treatment of women unfortunately remains front page news, President Trump is widely seen as a “Sexist in Chief”. During the campaign, many revelations were made about his poor treatment of woman including most notably the leaked tape in which he bragged about grabbing women against their will.  Since taking office the very public demeaning comments have not stopped.  He called a leading female journalist dumb and crazy and criticized her appearance. He tweeted that sexual assault in the military is simply what happens when men and women work together. He even commented on the physical appearance of the French First Lady.  And the list goes on and on.

At least 300 people were killed and hundreds more were seriously injured in the bombing that hit the center of Mogadishu, the Somali capital on Saturday 14th of October.  A truck packed with several hundred kilograms of military-grade and homemade explosives exploded, creating one of the deadliest terrorist acts anywhere in the world for many years. The attack was blamed on militant group al-Shabaab an Islamist group in Somalia which has been affiliated to al-Qaida since 2011, against which the government has been trying to fight for the past decade. A majority of the victims of this tragedy were ordinary people on one of the busiest streets of Mogadishu, which has been hit by multiple bombings in recent years. The deadly blast which sparked international attention was called a “national disaster” leaving several hundreds of family’s in deep mourning showing once against the horror we face in the world.



“With this last cartoon style piece, once again I wanted to contrast the horrors between the United States and other developing countries. I also wanted to show what a rat Weinstein is,  in not only his appearance but also personality-wise.”

In October 2017, The New York Times and The New Yorker posted damming pieces reporting that dozens of women had accused Harvey Weinstein, an Oscar winning producer and studio mogul, of sexual harassmentsexual assault or rape. Shortly after the first allegations became public, he was fired as co-chairman of his production company, The Weinstein Company, and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. As various stars and businesses try to distance themselves from Weinstein, many women such as famous actress Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie have come forward to reveal their own experiences of sexual harassment with the producer.
While many have the courage to speak up about these horrible acts, other have released encouraging words to the victims. An important social media campaign grew after American actress Alyssa Millano asked her follower for help. She wrote on twitter on October 15, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘Me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” The hashtag #MeToo started a huge social media campaign where a large number of women from more than 80 countries started using the hashtag to share personal stories of sexual harassment as a part of a collective response to the allegations. These more than 1.7 million #MeToo tweets are being called the "Harvey Weinstein effect", which not only helped embolden people to share their stories of assault publicly but also to continue to accuse well-know and powerful people so they can be held accountable of their actions despite their position in society. 


Images by Llina Bhatia
Text by Tessa Mack 

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