Shapur's Silent Suffering
An AAN Special Report, in association with 'Green Sea Today' magazine.
AAN - Our World; Your News
Over the last ten years, the Green Sea region has found itself thrust directly into the international spotlight. A series of Flashpoints have torn apart the fragile stability offered by the late '90s and early '00s, leaving displaced lives and families in their wake.
Chernarus and Takistan are high upon the political agenda, with several international aid agencies moving into the war-torn states to assist in the process of rebuilding the lives and infrastructure of the thousands of civilians affected. These are the headline humanitarian hotspots; however, a hidden crisis is emerging - a crisis bourne of a thousand-year history in a region riddled by inter- and intra-state power struggles.
Karzeghistan - particularly the Sharig Plateau and Shapur e-Dalanper provinces - is not high upon the international agenda; yet the lives of thoudsands of Karzegh nationals have been affected and their stories remain unheard. In our interview, we discuss the untold misery that has blighted the lives of those living around the volatile Takistani borderlands, and briefly chart the little-known history of this small - but fiercely independent - nation.
'Green Sea Today' met Jamal at a refugee camp in Ardistan, where he was determined to have his story told; determined to rebuild a life torn apart.
Shapur e-Dalanper In Pictures
Interview With Jamal
Good morning, Jamal. First of all, I must ask how you are, and how you've come to find yourself here in one of the various refugee camps within Ardistan's borders.
Thank you. I am ok - well, as 'ok' as one could hope in this situation. I have travelled a long way in the past few days. My son and I are very tired, but we are safe and together. This is all that matters right now.
Please, describe your journey here, in your own time.
Our route further into Karzeghistan was blocked by Takistani Militia patrols, still keen for blood amid the spilling of so much already - the loss of so many lives. It's a terrible situation. We were forced to flee north west, making our way across the Sharig Plateau - following the hundreds of others heading towards camps in Ardistan like this.
Please, tell us in your own words, exactly what happened in Shapur, as the occupying Takistani forces marched in?
Well, we were made aware of the worsening situation a couple of days in advance. The news reports changed. At first they were talking positively about a peaceful resolution, about trade sanctions and weapons inspectors. Then it all changed. A cold air blew through our small community, and each family felt the chill keenly. The reports became more frequent, more ominous. Telling of NATO forces readying for deployment; warning of Takistani troop movements and rocket artillery, we had no idea what to expect.
When did the time come for you to leave your homes, split form your family and friends?
It was a confused situation. Really, it's still a blur. I think it always will be. Panic began to grown as reports frantic came over the radio; it was a real mess. In the hours before the tanks rolled in, half of the men wanted to stay and fight - protect their homes, protect their way of life. My cousin, he is brave - he has stayed. He is a smart man, yet I fear for him; he doesn't understand the ruthlessness and desperation of these violent men.
And the other - yourself included - you decided to leave?
Yes, the others just wanted to get their loved ones to safety. I began to pack what I could, but it was too late. We felt the rumble of Takistani tanks miles away. We knew it was time to run for our lives. I grabbed what I could, seized my son by the collar and dragged him with me. We tried to make our way to my mother in law's house, but the panicked crowds were surging against our path. A friend told me to turn and run, that my mother in law was safe and on her way south. I still haven't heard from any of my family. It is just me and my son here.
So, they headed south, and you ended up going north?
It wasn't long before we ran into trouble to the south. Elite Takistani troops had moved deeper into Karzegh territory than anyone had ever expected. Vicious officers were arresting the men; those who tried to resist were killed. I grabbed my son and threw myself into a ditch, crawling on my belly for what seemed like hours. Crawling like a snake on the ground in my own country; the dirt tasted bitter. The cold rocks tore at my skin and the dust burned my eyes. As darkness fell, we headed north.
We're very glad you and your son made it here safely.
Thank you, my thoughts are with those who were not so fortunate.
When we first met, you were talking of Shapur with great affection - what was Shapur like before these terrible events?
Shapur was a viatl, vibrant community. The growth of industry in the area was a breath of life. I moved to Shapur about six years ago, and the community has honestly undergone a complete transformation: schools, markets, proper sanitation and roads. It was an oasis in the desert sand; it was home to many proud Karzegh families.
Historically, the Sharig Plateau and Shapur e-Dalanper region have been disputed, with this occupation only the most recent of many such events. How does this affect your understanding of the situation, and what is your impression of the area's history and sovereignty?
This area is sovereign Karzeghistani territory. It has been populated by my family and ancestors for hundreds - thousands - of years, but yes, it has had a turbulent past. In the 7th Century, the Takistanis moved into the region and much blood was spilt. That was only the beginning of our tempestuous relationship. Over the centuries rival factions have come and gone, vying for control of what's known today as the Sharig Plateau. Karzeghs. Takistanis. Ardistinians. Even the Russians have had their time. Each faction has claimed their piece of land; each faction has seen its blood seep into the hungry desert sand and rock.
Turning to the future now, what are your hopes and aspirations for Shapur - and Kareghistan more broadly?
The Americans came in and routed the Takistani Army. They are nothing - nothing but a spent force. What we fear are the reprisals of the local militias, the 'insurgents' as NATO describes them. We have seen British Armed Forces move through the area, trying to restore peace - attempting to tear the heart out of the insurgent's power base. I wish them well - I must, for my way of life depends on it. I will return to Shapur - I will reclaim my land, my house, my life. This I promise. This stands as truth and fact. We stand upon the threshold of a revelation.
Jamal is a thirty year old industrial technician, he had lived in and around the Sharig Plateau region throughout his formative years, following the birth of his son 6 years ago, moved to live closer to his mother and other family connections in Shapur.
In the early '00s, with the exploitation of recently tapped natural resources, local industry was booming, with Jamal enjoying quick training and progression to his role as senior technician at the Shapur-1 industrial complex. The community grew steadily, followed by the development of modernised infrastructure, schools and sanitation programmes.
However, this prosperity was to be short-lasting. The hard-line Takmyr junta threatened the stability of the peaceful province - greedily looking upon the area as potential source of revenue in Takistan's fast-collapsing state industrial and natural resource assets. Amid the outbreak of war, elite Takistani troops moved in to annex Shapur e-Dalanper, forcing the local population to flee in fear for their lives.
Jamal and his car, decorated for the Ramadan