Istanbul Melancholy

Istanbul - Turkey

Istanbul Melancholy

Five years after Gezi Park protests, the enthusiasm generated by what some would refer to as “a grace filled moment”, has died down to the point that some might wonder whether it really took place. The conservative and authoritarian policies lead by Erdogan, now president, and the AKP has worsened since the failed coup that took place on July 15th 2016. Today purges in universities and media go on and the police control over the population is increasing in the name of fight against terrorism. A major economic crisis looms at the horizon.

Some many Turkish citizens face these phenomenons with fatalism. They don’t support them but on the other hand they don’t know how to oppose them and they see their perspectives and hopes shrink little by little.

Here are stories of a dozen of them and of the repercussions this system has on their daily lives,their individual freedoms and their professional life.

Istanbul Melancholy

The homeless choir

Nantes - France

The homeless choir

I discovered the homeless choir ” Au clair de la rue ” in Nantes, France, during the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 19th 2015.

Around 20 of its members where singing in a street of Nantes in front of passers-by. Songs as “L’auvergnat” by Georges Brassens or “La ballade Nord Irlandaise” by Renaud, were not really sounding in tune but more than the music itself, it’s the unusual look of this choir’s members that appealed to me.

Created in 2007 by Serge aka “The Gaul”, a former fisherman who became homeless and Yannick, a retired engineer, the choir “Au clair de la rue” had for main goal to allow the friends of the homeless people who died in the street to pay a last tribute to them with dignity.

Ten years later, the choir goes on, composed of people with social difficulties – with or without a home – and a solid volunteers network. The deaths are numerous but the mood never turns to tragic and the singing gathers this men and women whose lifepaths are chaotic. As a space of socialization and well-being in a difficult daily life, “au clair de la rue” is certainly one of the most unusual of the french choirs.

The homeless choir

A shadow on Sarawak, landgrabbing in Malaysia

Sarawak - Malaysia

A shadow on Sarawak, landgrabbing in Malaysia

Landgrabbing of the indigenous territories has became a worldwide issue. But it is particularly strong in Malaysia, especially in the state of Sarawak, located on Borneo island.

The state of Sarawak joined the Malaysian federation in 1963, 5 years after the departure of the English settlers. It’s only after the promulgation of numerous laws protecting the rights of indigenous communities that the state of Sarawak joined the federation. According to the 1958 land code, the cultivation of wild lands confer a permanent right on it to the indigenous people. However, this code has been amended multiple times since the 1970’s, when the country entered an important industrialization campaign.

Numerous communities has been chased from their land. They benefit from the customary law on their lands but rarely have ownership titles to protect themselves from evictions. The government uses this vulnerability to issue exploitation licences on those lands to private companies, for palm oil plantations, precious trees exploitation or construction of hydro-electric dams. Nowadays, around 70% of Sarawak territory has been given to logging companies.

A shadow on Sarawak, landgrabbing in Malaysia

Phnom Penh’s white building

Phnom Penh - Cambodia

Phnom Penh’s white building

The white building is one of Phnom Penh’s, the Cambodian capital city, most iconic building.

Built in the 1960’s, it was designed by the Khmer architect Vann Molyvann. This 350 meters long concrete structure spreading nearby the city center was part of a urban renewal program and was supposed to host civil servants and their families.

Deserted, as well as the rest of the city, between 1975 and 1979 when the Khmer Rouge took the power, it has been repopulated little by little by new inhabitants who had survived to the genocide.

There are 468 apartments in the White Building, accommodating around 2500 people. Spreading on 4 levels, its numerous exterior passageways offer an anarchic sighting, evolving with the inhabitants needs.

The average rental price is around USD 80 per month. A lot of low earnings families share those small flats that are less than 20 square meters. Most of them are migrants coming from Cambodia’s countryside, hoping to find a work and better living conditions in Phnom Penh.

The White Building suffers from a poor image among Phnom Penh’s inhabitants, regarding it as a no-go zone populated by prostitutes and drug addicts.

As the economic development of the city skyrocketed in the past years, luxurious shops started to surround the old dilapidated Building.

During the summer 2017, the Cambodian Land Management Ministry announced that the demolition would start on July 17th, in order to give place to a luxurious 21 levels building…

Phnom Penh’s white building

error: © 2018 Jérémie Lusseau