The Struggle Continues

The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for themselves. – Czesław Miłosz

In 1992, the village of Vanq, in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh), was being bombarded; it was the frontline of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict; there were few inhabitants in the village, and even fewer children and elderly. In the next two days they were going to bombard the village, but on that day it was peaceful. I tried to photograph one of the soldiers, then the other soldier took his friend’s Kalashnikov and asked me to shoot him too; this was followed by a third soldier, then a forth, and     . . .  click, click . . . and the sound of my camera reminded me of the intermittent clicking of an automatic gun. To shoot in English also means to take a picture.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that I was shooting the soldiers standing at the wall with my camera, and they expected me to memorialize the moment with photos. The war which had just broken out was gathering momentum, we all found ourselves in the front line, and those photographs could be their last one . . . 

As these dangerous thoughts ran through my mind, my camera ran out of film on the eighth soldier; I did not want to continue. Some years later, when I returned to the same village, I inquired about the men in that unit. People of the village told me that four of them had been killed in fighting.