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  • South Korea’s school system is often celebrated internationally. Concurrently, the pursuit of attaining high grades creates problems such as high suicide statistics.

  • Nepal's first international wrestling tournament

  • The people of Kiribati are under pressure to relocate due to sea level rise. Each year, the sea level rises by about half an inch. Though this may not sound like much, it is a big deal considering the islands are only a few feet above sea level, which puts them at risk of flooding and sea swells. It is well agreeable that the people of Kiribati account for little to nothing in terms of green house emissions but are forced to face the direct consequences of global warming. And with an average age of 22, Kiribati's future generations are at risk of potentially lethal sea level rise.

  • Many young teenagers in Kathmandu leave their homes to get away from their dysfunctional families. A lot of the kids end up taking drugs to numb the emotional pain, as well as find old food in the garbage to keep themselves alive. Saroj Shrestra used to be one of these kids. When he was 8 years old, he himself was left on the streets of Kathmandu, and at the age of 15, was taken in by an organisation called 'Child Watabaren'; who have helped him catch up with his education and trained him to become a paramedic. He now works with a mobile paramedic clinic team and plans to pursue a degree in Public Health.

  • The war in Mindanao is finally over after the government and MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) guerrillas have finally signed a peace settlement. The newly created autonomous Muslim region of Bangsamoro is about to be drawn on the map.

  • Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha has developed solar-powered floating schools which park at the mainland to pick-up students. Each boat-classroom accommodates about 30 -35 students and come equipped with solar panels that power an internet-linked laptop, library and electronic resources, providing basic education for children under grade 5. Metal beams allow for column-free spaces, and the boats have flexible wooden floors, high ceilings and waterproof roofs outfitted with solar panels. These multilayered roofs can withstand heavy monsoon rains. The walls of the boat incline to the exterior that holds the curved roof, giving the boat a sculptural form. Viewed from the riverbank, the community members see the school boat as a ‘river turtle’.

  • Where do the mega freighters and super tankers of the world go when they are deemed to be taken out of service? Sadly, the answer to this question would be the muddy beaches of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Here, workers risk their lives on a daily basis when disassembling the discarded super tankers by hand – bit by bit, metal sheet after metal sheet. The long stretch of coastline is literally covered with ships that are brought in from Singapore. This is the merchant fleet’s cemetery, where 86 000 ton oil tankers sit bow to bow with smaller vessels. They are all in various stages of decay and the smell of burnt metal and gas are heavy in the air. It takes somewhere between half a year and eight months to turn a giant of the sea into a heap of scrap.

  • Jharia in India's eastern Jharkand state is literally in flames. This is due to the open cast coal mining that takes place in the area. For more than 90 years, the Jharian coal mines have been alight with coal mining villages of around seven hundred thousand people settling in. Most of the mining is done with open cast as the price to mine is relatively lower to produce the profits. However, open cast mining does have its disadvantages including the release of toxic chemicals into our atmosphere. Everywhere you look, there will be coal to mine. And so villagers in Jharia often go out with their own shovels to mine whatever coal there is in the ground to support their families after selling the coal at the market center. The open pits…

  • Every year hundreds of thousands of tourists come to Thailand. But in the shadow of mass tourism, there is a different reality. Reporters have found serious grievances among migrant workers in hotels used by the tourists. Trafficking and modern slavery are part of everyday life for those who pay the highest price to be smuggled into the country. Htoo Aung says that seven other Burmese and he were led by smugglers through the jungle for eight days. They slept in the open air for short periods during the day. Under the cover of darkness, they took a long detour into the thorny terrain to bypass roadblocks controlled by the Tatmadaw, the Burmese junta's feared military force. From Htoo Aungs small village in the state of Mon in one of the…

  • Hazaribagh ranks as the world's most polluted area in terms of plastic pollution and is home to all the leather waste from Dhaka's leather tanneries where laborers work under dangerous conditions without regulations or protective equipment.

  • The kids are concentrated when the teacher explains the writing exercise. There are no actual classrooms for the children – they just sit on the ground with a temporary roof to protect themselves against the strong sun. In a small village called Bilwadi in the state of Rajasthan, children from Nomadic families at ages between 6 and 14 years are taught mathematics as well as reading and writing in Hindi. Child marriage from the age of about 4 and the caring of family livestock is a common chore for children in rural areas of Rajasthan. The young are trafficked and exposed to different kinds of child labor; a form of modern slavery that is not uncommon in India though forbidden by law. It is difficult to estimate an exact number of children subjected…

  • The tsunami of December 2004 was as deadly as the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki together; but at the same time paved the way for peace in Indonesia. Inspired by Swedish social democracy, Aceh is now trying to build a functional society over the rubble left by the tsunami, however, the trauma left by the wave can still be seen 10 years later in many aspects of life.

  • The Muslim Rohingya ethnic group is traditionally from the state of Arakan in western Burma. After a populist Buddhist party had a majority of supporters, violence erupted in 2012 between Muslims and Buddhists. Hundreds of Muslims were killed and 125,000 were forced into refugee camps. Rohingyas have testified the local police who have actively participated in the violence. The allegations are supported by reports from organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In late March, several organizations have been established to offer aid to Muslims who have been attacked by Buddhist protestors. A few weeks earlier, the Burmese government MSF was forbidden to operate over the state. The reason given was that the organizations…

  • Where do the mega freighters and super tankers of the world go when they are deemed to be taken out of service? Sadly, the answer to this question would be the muddy beaches of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Here, workers risk their lives on a daily basis when disassembling the discarded super tankers by hand – bit by bit, metal sheet after metal sheet. The long stretch of coastline is literally covered with ships that are brought in from Singapore. This is the merchant fleet’s cemetery, where 86 000 ton oil tankers sit bow to bow with smaller vessels. They are all in various stages of decay and the smell of burnt metal and gas are heavy in the air. It takes somewhere between half a year and eight months to turn a giant of the sea into a heap of scrap.

  • 585 people were taken hostage, six crew members were killed and 32 more were left injured from pirate attacks in 2012. The reported piracy in 2012 accumulated up to 297 seizures compared to about 439 in 2011. Part of the decline is due to effective combat against Somalian pirates. On a global basis, it is reported that cargo, bulk, container vessels and oil tankers are most at risk from pirate attacks, however, there have been cases targeted against fisherman and fishing boats.

  • The Kamaiya/Kamlari issue is a form of slavery system where families sell their daughters as child-slaves in exchange for loans. Ongoing issues on these human rights have been battled against for many years. As exorbitant debts were charged, many families were forced into generations slavery to to pay off these debts. It was only till many protests led to its banning in the year 2000 and the banning of Kamlari system in 2006 that saw an end to the ongoing dispute; over the last decade, 12,000 Kamlaris were freed and it is estimated that there are 500-1000 still alive in captivity as the Kamlari system still operates secretly.

  • Thai prisoners, many of them hardened by years of incarceration, were pitted against free foreign fighters in both Muay Thai and traditional boxing bouts. Both sides were competing for a little cash, but the Thai prisoners were also fighting for their lives, literally. Prisoners who win a championship and thereby bring glory to the prison have a realistic shot at having their sentences commuted. The organizer said this goes for any prisoner regardless of the magnitude of their crime, but he was also quick to point out that prisoners are judged from a holistic perspective that incorporates their behavior outside of the ring. That said, it doesn’t diminish the gravity of what’s at stake. - Coconuts Bangkok

  • Oil money and migrant workers are exactly what is required to build the infrastructure and stadiums of Qatar as they plan to host the World Cup in 2022. The migrant workers who travel to the Persian Gulf hope to find better jobs and a future for themselves, however, the common case is that they end up working in slave-like conditions on dangerous workplaces – Amnesty wrote in a report. After having the highest GDP per capita, Qatar is going to invest a staggering 775 billion on the stadiums that will hold the World Cup in 2022. This has led to an influx of migrant workers moving to the middle-east for jobs. Nepal alone delivers 1500 people a day to work in the Gulf with the main spot of attention being Qatar.

  • “There are no problems in North Korea”. After a group trip to North Korea, it is clear that not much has changed since the Korean War. A small portion of the population belongs to a middle class, but all live under heavy surveillance.

  • Recently, there has been an increasing number of Burmese immigrants moving to Thailand in the hopes of getting better employment. It is estimated that more than two million Burmese people live in Thailand, of which 300,000 live in Phuket. It is unknown how many illegal immigrants there are, however relations between Myanmar and Thailand has strengthened recently, which makes it easier for a Burmese immigrant to acquire a work permit. On the other hand, problems that the Burmese immigrants face include heavy costs on work permits and complicated systems that put many of the immigrants in the hands of agents and human traffickers leaving the immigrant in skyrocketing debt.

  • Mongolia today is known for its large deposits of copper, coal, gold and earth elements required to build circuit boards for today's computational technology, buried right under the country's soil. The government not only encourages people to mine for wealth but has also created plans of their own to further develop the country's mining industry and general infrastructure by allowing more privatization in Mongolian companies. In 2012, Mongolia scored the highest percentage mark for rapid growth at a staggering 17% compared to 11% in 2013. However, the general economic situation in Mongolia isn't so stable; with an inflation rate of 10% per year, damages will eventually be done to the country's rapid economic growth.…

  • Photographs of Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD election tour in Mandalay 2012.

  • With its reputation as one of the epicenters of Thailand's sex industry, Pattaya represents a unique challenge for the tourist industry. While the city remains a popular destination, drawing throngs of travelers throughout the year, some people are keen to clean up the seaside resort's image and to improve the situation for thousands of sex workers. But with much of the town's erstwhile coastal charm obliterated by high rise buildings and Go Go bars, is it too late for Pattaya to be saved?

  • Eggs from Europeans, semen from wealthy Westerners and embryos planted in desperate women's bodies. The Indian baby factories have become a growing multi-billion dollar industry.

  • The desire for ivory is on the rise again in emerging Asian markets. This ever increasing demand for “white gold” is threatening to erase the entire elephant population in Africa. Although Thailand's government likes to be seen to be protecting elephants under the law, especially Thailand’s indigenous pachyderms, critics allege that illegal trading in ivory continues unabated whilst the government turns a blind eye.

  • Abortion in the Philippines is illegal under the constitution and the Catholic Church has opposed attempts to liberalize abortion laws and continues to pit itself against the use of contraceptives. Consequently many women in this impoverished country, especially young women and prostitutes, are pressurized into getting illegal and often dangerous abortions at unlicensed clinics and from ‘backstreet doctors’.

  • Waves of anti-muslim violence paralyzes stirred up by nationalist monks threatens to derail democratic reforms in Myanmar. Whilst the historic reforms of president Thein Sein are being praised by the outside world many people are in shock. How is it that Buddhists who are well known for their humanism and pacifism, bear responsibility for the most brutal massacres and persecutions? In this extensive story we meet Burmese Muslims who struggle for their lives in Bangkok, the Rohingya IDP-camps of Myanmar's Rakhine state and in the cities of Meiktila and Mandalay. They all bear the same questions - why are they being attacked and killed? What has triggered this primitive hate and violence towards the Muslim community in Myanmar? In our search…

  • The Sumatran tiger faces extinction from threats such as poaching, illegal logging and a boom in human population growth in the recent decade. A breeding programme seems to be the only hope for the Sumatran tiger's survival.

  • The tragic plight of the Rohingyas, described by the UN as one of the planet’s most persecuted peoples, has been all but eclipsed by optimistic coverage of Burma’s democratic reforms. A Muslim minority in predominantly Buddhist Burma, the Rohingyas have fallen victim to an intense wave of ethnic violence. Their homes and villages either destroyed or unsafe to return to, some 125,000 Rohingya refugees now eke out a desperate living in makeshift camps in Sittwe, Western Burma.

  • A village of green revolution, Dosan produces biofuels such as palm oil in the aim of becoming Indonesia's Green Gold. The global demand for palm oil in recent years has increased which ultimately led to a greater amount of deforestation to provide space for plantations. In the village of Dosan, Sumatra, locals have found methods to increase the production of palm oil whilst preserving the rainforest. Dosan provides a great example of success which may well impact the ways in which other plantations operate.

  • Land grabbing has become a serious issue in Cambodia in recent years. Thousands of people have been evicted from their homes and have received no compensation. The controversial eviction of communities living around the Boeung Kak Lake area in the heart of the capital, Phnom Penh has resulted in protests and the arrest of activists. The 90 acre lake has been filled and transformed into a small desert, and the proposed land titling project and planned development has caused hundreds of families to abandon their homes and seek refuge elsewhere, most having to move into already overcrowded and squalid slums around the city. However, the land rights issue is not limited to the capital. Against a backdrop of forced evictions, displacement and landlessness…

  • In the recent years, acid attacks have become a prominent issue in Cambodia. Whether they are committed as crimes of the heart or from conflicts of interest, more and more perpetrators seem to prefer acid as their choice of weapon. According to a report by the Cambodian Acid Survivor Charity (or CASC), the number of acid attacks in the first two months of 2010 was almost equal to the total number of attacks in the entire previous year. Also, the trait of these incidents seems to changing; in the past mostly women were attacked; now more men fall as victims. Cambodia is on the path towards becoming a key player in the Southeast Asian region, so this kind of domestic violence is not at all healthy to this impoverished nation. A number of campaigns…

  • The Gulabi gang, or "the pink gang" (a direct translation from Hindi), is a group of women who have decided to take justice into their own hands. Out of desperation following government officials' incompetence in dealing with abusive domestic violence, Sampat Pal Devi formed the Gulabi Gang. Its main purpose is to help promote better living conditions for women around India. After being in operation for more than half a decade, the Gulabi Gang is reported to have more than 20,000 members and has saved thousands of women's lives across the country.

  • It is now 30 years since the emergence of AIDS, yet the stigma attached to the disease in countries like India remains a major obstacle in the fight to stem the pandemic. Despite official support for the distribution of free condoms and antiretroviral drugs, critics say the Indian government is in denial about the size of the nation’s AIDS problem. Issues relating to sexuality are generally taboo in India, making it difficult to talk openly about one of the main causes of AIDS. Indications on the ground suggest the problem is growing. In Nashik, Maharashra, 18,000 people, some two percent of the city’s million-or-so population, are known to be living with HIV. Photographer Jonas Gratzer and writer Johan Augustin documented the lives of those…

  • Kaziranga National Park is one of the last refuges for the single horned rhinoceros. Almost extinct in the early 1900s, protection of the species and re-population has increased their numbers to 2,500 with most living in this Indian nature reserve. However there is a war going on between poachers (who kill the rhinos just for the horns) and park rangers. And now the rangers are “licensed to kill” - literally. Tourists can visit the reserve when accompanied by the rangers, but anyone else is considered a poacher and is shot on sight. The problem is compounded by the poverty of the farmers in the nearby villages whose crops are often destroyed by wildlife encroaching on their fields. Rangers feel that until the local population is committed to…

  • Leave out the sugar, honey and milk. Take one teaspoon of Darjeeling’s finest white tea leaves, put them in water heated to 80 degrees for four minutes, pour into a champagne flute, sit back and open all your senses to the finest tea in the world. The mountains around Darjeeling are naturally gifted with the perfect soil and climate for growing the world's most exclusive and often most expensive tea. Delicately hand picked by Nepalese women, within 24 hours the processed tea will be heading for stores in London, New York or Tokyo. Different varieties of "White" tea have become a hot commodity. In Nathmull's Tea Room this exclusive white tea costs around 125 rupees a cup, approximately one tenth of the 20 Euros that it would…

  • Students come from all over the world to train at the Iyengar Yoga Center in Dharamsala. The school’s founder, Sharat Arora was taught by the master himself, B.K.S. Iyengar who started what is probably the most widely practiced form of yoga in Europe and America. Sharat claims that Dharamsala has a special energy, which is perhaps why the Dalai Lama chose this sleepy town on the foothills of the Himalayas for his residence in exile. The center’s five day courses are intensive, with yogi Sharat shouting, cajoling and exhorting his charges into ever more complicated asanas (yoga positions).

  • You have probably never heard of it and you’re even less likely to go there, but Burma’s new administrative capital is actually a place called Naypyidaw. The city is located 320 kilometers north of Burma’s historic capital, Rangoon. With its broad boulevards, gleaming administrative buildings and orderly rows of houses, the new capital looks like sanitized urban utopia. Perhaps more than anything, it is a monument to the delusions and paranoia of Burma’s ruling junta. Military personnel are housed in a restricted zone complete with bunkers and tunnels. Most telling of all, Burma’s generals ordered the construction of a new parliament. But as elections draw near, few dare to hope that the empty building may see open democratic politics any time…

  • Appeals court in the Philippines rejects appeal - upholds sentences on two Swedes imprisoned for life on charges of human trafficking after they were found to be operating an illegal cybersex den that exploited minors. In handing down the unusually harsh ruling, the judge said, “disrespect for Filipino women and violations of our laws deserve the strongest condemnations from this court.” The convicts, Bo Stefan Sederholm, 31, and Emil Andreas Solerno, 35, were arrested in 2009 after police rescued 17 girls from a building during a raid in Cagayan de Oro City about 795 kilometers south of the capital Manila. Girls were held in small bedrooms and paid the equivalent of around US$ 350 a month to perform sexual acts in front of webcams connected…

  • The trial of the Ampatuan clan has begun in the Philippines where political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. On the front lines of this nation’s struggle for press freedom, many local journalists have found themselves literally in the firing line. Last November, 32 journalists were among 57 people massacred by a local political militia in Ampatuan municipality, Mindanao. Photographer Jonas Gratzer and writer Martin Schibbye visited Ampatuan to find out how local journalists are coping in the aftermath of the massacre.

  • AUG 13TH - COURT UPHOLDS SENTENCE - SWEDE MUST SERVE TIME. A 63 year-old Swedish man convicted of pedophilia claimed that he had paid US $11,000 to four Cambodian judges to overturn his six and a half year sentence and set him free. In January he was convicted of sexually abusing his adopted Cambodian son over a period of several years. He has also been the subject of other police investigations into alleged pedophilia. The Swede’s original conviction was the result of investigative work by an NGO called Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE). Cambodia’s reputation as a sex paradise for foreigners combined with a weak legal system, have acted as a magnet for pedophiles. Photographer Jonas Gratzer and writer Martin Schibbye broke this pedophilia bribe…

  • Voters will take to the polls on May 10th 2010 in the Philippines. One of the most pressing issues that the new President will face will be the long term problem that has dogged many of his or her predecessors, a guerrilla war without end. The New Peoples Army (NPA) has waged a ‘protracted people’s war’ for over 40 years in which more than 40,000 have died. Last year President Arroyo declared an "all-out war" to destroy the jungle-based armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party but they continue to resist. With fighting intensifying nationwide Photographer Jonas Gratzer and freelance journalist Martin Schibbye took an inside look at the conflict that history forgot.

  • After the Maoists came to power in a landslide election victory in 2006, a peace deal was brokered to integrate the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into the Nepalese army, bringing the erstwhile rebels firmly under government control. That deal now looks in jeopardy. A top UN official recently warned that the peace process has stagnated. Both sides have started recruitment drives. On the government side, the former royal army is said to have brought in over 3,000 new soldiers. Meanwhile the Maoists have quietly been increasing PLA numbers by as much as 10,000. The PLA remains a terrorist entity in the eyes of the US government. OnAsia photographer Jonas Gratzer visited a rebel camp where PLA guns are locked away in United Nations containers…

  • Cambodia, one of the poorest nations in Asia, also has one of the most rapidly growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the region. The HIV epidemic has spread beyond high-risk groups, such as sex workers or injection drug users, to the general population. And a new U.N. study shows that millions of migrants across Southeast Asia are vulnerable to HIV infection as they lack access to AIDS-related services and legal or social protection – not mentioning the growing trade in counterfeit drugs. After years of civil war, Cambodia still has an enemy to fight. But this time, it’s invisible. Photographer Jonas Gratzer reports from the province of Battambang.

  • Karin Bhat is no ordinary Swede. She has chosen to defy stereotypes and abandon the tranquility of her homeland. She did so out of love. When Karin, 35, met Manzoor her life changed course; she moved to the northern Indian city of Srinigar to marry him. The transformation was total. Karin, who is blond and blue eyed, changed her name from Andersson to Bhat, converted to Islam and found herself living in a city at the epicenter of a sectarian conflict that regularly flares into bloody confrontation on the streets of this once popular tourist destination. It is here that Karin now raises her two sons Hakim, 5, and Shakil who is just one. Photographer Jonas Gratzer documented Karin’s life in Srinigar. A text by writer John Augustin is also available…