‘The Unresolved Dreams: Azerbaijan’s Refugees and IDPs’ exhibition opened on 30 October in Berlin, featuring photographs of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) taken by renowned US photojournalist Ed Kashi. The exhibition was held from October 31 to November 6. The opening took place in the presence of the photographer and was supported by the German office of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS).
More than 875,000 refugees and IDPs have been residing in camps across Azerbaijan for over 20 years since they were forcibly expelled from Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts by Armenian forces, which continue to illegally occupy this territory. Each day is a struggle for these people, all of whom long to return to their ancestral homeland. Despite international condemnation of this occupation, including the passing of four UN Security Council resolutions against Armenia, this on-going situation receives negligible attention from the European media. This led Ed Kashi, who has contributed to the National Geographic Magazine, New York Times as well as Time and Newsweek magazines to turn his lens on the everyday lives of these IDPs and refugees. The images serve to capture their challenges, but also their hopes and the resilience of the human spirit.
Ed Kashi said, “With the topic of IDPs and refugees currently growing in importance across many parts of the world, it is important that we do not forget these people who have been suffering from the Armenian occupation of their homeland for over 20 years. Azerbaijan has one of the largest IDP populations in the world. Through my work, I am expressing a responsibility for these people, so it is a great honour to present this in Berlin today.”
In June 2013, Ed Kashi visited Azerbaijan for the project, and the resultant photo exhibition opened in London around a year later. It then travelled to Paris, and is now being presented in Berlin. The project is supported by the VII Photo Agency, co-founded by Ed, and by TEAS, which aims to develop European– Azerbaijani relations regarding culture, politics and economics on a pan-European scale. The Director of TEAS Germany commented, “the fate of more than 875,000 IDPs and refugees who were illegally expelled from their homes by Armenian forces must not be forgotten. However, it is often not easy to understand such topics as war and the plight of refugees and IDPs from afar. It is easier to comprehend the human dimension through art, and that is why we are glad to support Ed Kashi’s photographic exhibition. We are particularly gratifi ed that there was such a great interest in the opening, with more than 400 guests in attendance.”