The Heritage: a reportage by Marielle van Uitert

“The Heritage”: a reportage by Marielle van Uitert Part 1

On the way from Tarin Kowt to Cop Tabar, marines enclose a bunch of children which are playing in the medieval scenery

About the author:
Marielle van Uitert (b. 1973 Netherlands) is a freelance photographer who is specialised in war and social engaged documentary. She went to Afghanistan, both embedded with the Dutch army and unembedded dressed in a burqa. She made a documentaries in Iraq and in the West Bank. Her work has been published in several Dutch/English magazines, newspapers and on TV and in the Guardian.

About the project:
After almost 10 years of war, the Dutch ISAF troops make their final patrols in the Baluchi Valley in Chora. Even though the harvest season has come to an end and the insurgents are increasing their power through suicide bombers and IED’s, Dutch politics force them to leave this country which is still unstable and lives its life in a political and social split. The base of Mirwais still carries out daily patrols in Ali Shirzai, Nyazi and the White Compound in order to win the hearts and minds of the local population and to teach the ANP (Afghan National Police) and ANA (Afghan National Army) new strategies to cope with the increasing Taliban threat in the region.
The war is not coming to an end while the Americans and Australians are taking over control. The population becomes schizophrenic. If it chooses the side of the ISAF Coalition Forces, they risk the chance of being threatened or worse by the Taliban. If it chooses the other side, however, they are chased after as cooperating with the insurgents by these Coalition Forces. To be neutral is hardly an option in this devastated country which is at war for ages.

The documentary “The Heritage” consists of three parts which are weekly published in this magazine:
First part: Trampled down innocence: After decades of war, Afghanistan is in a status quo where she finds herself with her back against the wall. Children stopped waving to the coalition forces and the Taliban is increasing his power. The present children are the future but the tide is turning and the innocent children of today can become future insurgents despite the PRT efforts.

From the base checkpoint Mirwais in Chora, the surroundings are watched closely

A foot patrol in Tarin Kowt in the West Bank (West Deh Rashan)

During the foot patrol in Chora to Ali Shirzai, children are suspicious towards the soldiers

Power is measured by the possession of a gun in the unstable West Deh Rashan

The White Compound which was taken from the Taliban is now a resort for old district leaders

The only ones who are free in Afghanistan are the birds on the checkpoints.

From the roof of the Governance Compound the Dutch soldiers and the ANP (Afghan national Police) are protected during their patrols in West Deh Rashan

Every move of the locals is watched and interpreted by the guards who patrol the tower in Chora.

Children are both curious as suspicious in the presence of the foreign coalition forces. Most female children are not allowed to be captured on film

Life under pressure in Chora where the routine of daily life has to continue after the foreign coalition forces built their camp in the middle of the Baluchi Valley

A mother and daughter in front of an ANP post in West Deh Rashan. Women dressed in burqa and girls are not being searched and are mostly left alone by both national as international forces

Young man has dual feelings when meeting the coalition forces in Ali Shirzai

Children flee away when the marines show up on the notorious IED lane near Cop Tabar

In Nyiazi, children flee away during a patrol of the Police Mentoring Team near Cemetary Hill. This district is not under control and Taliban is reinforcing its influence

Life goes on in a country at war. Even though the Western presence is enormous, the old fashioned life style of the local Afghans is a stronghold in an unstable country.

The second part will be published next monday!

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