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Photo exhibition on arms proliferation

Visitors view images from Nagaland and Manipur being displayed at the exhibition.
Dimapur, SEPT 21:
Published on 22 Sep. 2009 12:59 AM IST
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A photo exhibition titled: “A Farewell to Arms,” an exhibition documenting the human cost in arms proliferation and advocating government of India to support the ongoing UN process for an International Arms Trade Treaty began on Sunday in New Delhi. Noted Indian photographer Raghu Rai inaugurated the exhibition at the Convention Centre Foyer, India Habitat Centre New Delhi which was hosted by the Control Arms Foundation of India (CAFI). The exhibition would conclude on Wednesday. According to a report sent by disarmament & parliamentary affairs coordinator, CAFI, Elizabeth Imti, the exhibition features entries from 14 renowned photographers from across India including the first time display of images taken in Manipur in 2008 by India’s legendary photographer, Raghu Rai. The exhibition showcases the works of photographers from Jammu and Kashmir, the Naxal region, Northeast India and other parts of India affected by unregulated arms trade. Speaking at the inaugural function, Raghu Rai said, “It should be the responsibility of developed nations that arms which are manufactured by them should not land in the hands of terrorists and criminals. But unfortunately, their one-time allies want to use their allies in their conflict with others. The fact remains that money has to be made and the arms must be manufactured, and the wars and conflicts continue. Arms must be sold as the money has to be made by the big nations. The small countries and the ordinary people don’t matter.” According to Binalakshmi Nepram, secretary general, CAFI and organiser of the photo exhibition, “The international arms trade is out of control. The United Nations estimates that 500,000 people are killed each year due to small arms violence. Many of the victims are women and children. In India alone, 12 people die from armed violence every day. This illustrates the need for an Arms Trade Treaty. Any further delay means more lost lives.” Javeed Shah one of the contributors of the exhibition recounted his experiences of photographing in Kashmir, “Shooting wailing mothers, dead youth, scary scenes and crying children. (Contd. on page 7) Photo exhibition on arms proliferation (From page 1) With time I learned to hide myself behind the camera and take things as mere subject in front of my camera. For years, I have only seen grief that these arms and explosions brought to my valley. But now I want to capture the smiling faces. And only a farewell to arms can bring that smile back.” The exhibition also served as an opportunity for providing a sound platform for photographers who want to pursue such noble initiatives. Ramakanta Dey said, “As I am a photographer from a remote part of Northeast India, it’s very hard to me to do any exhibition of my photographs in Delhi or other part of the world. But today CAFI gives me the scope.” India is part of a region that is flooded with arms. According to the United Nations, India is home to about 40 million firearms, many of them in the hands of militants and criminals. However, the spread of illegal arms in India is fueling demand for legal arms, as desperate citizens seek refuge in the false promise that arming themselves will protect them from attack. The need to address the problem of the unregulated arms trade has never been so serious. Control Arms Foundation of India and its partner organizations are campaigning for the international Arms Trade Treaty, part of the UN process for regulation of international transfer of conventional weapons. The initiative is till date supported by 50,000 Indians and over 50 parliamentarians who have voiced their concern to government of India to support the process. The exhibition not only presented the stark resemblance of the effects that armed violence brought to the diverse regions in India. But it brought closer to home, the message that the desolation brought by armed violence is universal. Hundreds of people thronged the exhibition ever since it opened.

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