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Photojournalism on Palestine To Be At Aotea Centre

Palestine Now

Photographic Display by International Award Winning Photo Journalist Bruno Stevens, (who has just been awarded the 1st Prize in the World Press Photo, daily life category.) 'PALESTINE NOW' will show at Aotea Gallery level 4, Aotea Centre from 28th April to the 8th May 2004. Admission free.

Belgian Photographer Bruno Stevens (44) visited New Zealand in January this year to lecture on photography.

"Taking pictures is not enough," he insists, "one has to show them afterwards".

Unfazed by the pressure of producing exceptional work for the world's top magazines, including Time, Paris Match, the New York Times Magazine and the British Sunday Times Magazine, Stevens stresses the importance of going beneath the surface of events.This is the intention of the 17-image display 'Palestine Now', which depicts the human cost of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and argues for peaceful solutions based on his hard-won view that "The only way to bring peace to the Israeli people is by recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to live in peace within a viable inde­pendent state of their own".

To find out for himself what effect this horrendous conflict was having on the people, he went from Beirut to Gaza, from the Golan to Jerusalem, from Fatah Tanzims to hard core Jewish settlers. On his very first day in Jerusalem, (Friday, April 12th, 2002), the 20-year-old Palestin­ian girl, Ayat Al Akhras, blew herself up at a Jaffa Road bus stop, in the heart of West Jerusalem, killing herself and five innocent Israelis. "It was a bloodbath, a horrible scene." But it was only one of dozens of similar death scenes, perpetrated by both sides, that he photographed.

Sadly, Stevens sees the Middle-East "engulfed in a downward spiral of mad violence fuelled by the expan­sionist views of a significant part of the Israeli establishment."

Like many people, he thinks that "The countless UN resolutions calling for the Israeli withdrawal from the Pal­estinian Territories to within the 1967 borders should be implemented without delay". This would involve an immediate end to Jewish settlements and confiscations of Palestinian land. These mea­sures, he believes, need to be verified and guaran­teed by international peacekeeping forces.

Having witnessed the effect of this violence at first hand, he fears that "­­the Israeli strategy is not actually de­signed to bring security to the Is­raeli people, but rather to achieve the two long-term goals of their Prime Minister: to gain complete Israeli control of the West Bank ('Israel between Jordan and the sea'), as well as to make sure the Palestinians can never have an in­dependent state of their own."

"Fences of all sorts mark this land like scars on a beautiful face," he says. "Whether barbed wire or mental, cultural or egoistic, they carve relentlessly through prosperity and Peace."

When it comes down to it, he insists, individuals can make a difference - for better or worse. By showing ordinary Israelis or Palestinians, caught up in these dehumanising events, and telling their stories, there is still hope of international efforts toward non-violent resolution as other ordinary people say enough - and work to eliminate the root causes of violence by peaceful means. But for the photographer, seeking an end to such violence, it has to be witnessed first hand before it can be passed on to those who need to be convinced that an atrocity has taken place, and must not be repeated.

Bruno Stevens' photographs 'PALESTINE NOW' will show at Aotea Gallery level 4, Aotea Centre from 28th April to the 8th May 2004. Admission free.

Palestine Human Rights Campaign, P.O. Box 56150, Auckland, 3

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