oTwo Afghan men at the carpet bazaar - they asked me to take their picture. It's washed out, but I like it anyway.
Poster distributed by the mine museum. The red painted rocks signal a mine field, and the women is hanging onto her child's shirt as he walks towards it. Different types of mines litter the field.
Saturday was an interesting day - in the morning I went to a old fort next to the former British embassy for a carpet bazaar, and then we went to the Mine Museum. A few weeks ago I posted about visiting the Kabul Museum, and what a sorry state it was in. The Taleban managed to destroy the majority of historic art and artifacts at that the museum, but the mine museum was practically bursting with displays. I think that says a lot about what decades of war can do to a country. Although, to be fair, the Taleban didn't plant a lot of mines - the mujahadeens and Soviets did a lot of that, with other internationals participating at varying intervals.
Luckily for me, I went to Omar Mine Museum with my friend Matt, who is writing his dissertation about mines, so I got a very thorough explanation of the different mines displayed at the museums, their uses, and some of the war theory behind the use of mines. Mines are mainly used as a defensive mechanism, but they aren't very effective because a determined army will plow through a mine field fairly quickly. Also, mines move with rain, so overtime a mine field expands.
The overwhelming casualties of mines are civilians. One of the displays showed butterly mines, brightly colored plastic mines that are dropped from planes onto an area below. They look like toys, and invariably attract children, who will lose a few fingers if they pick one up.
The museum is used as an educational platform for various organizations, especially de-mining employees, to teach them about different types of mines, etc. It amazed me that humanity has spent so much time creating weapons that will blow off a persons leg, or blow off their leg and shoot shrapnel 25 ft in each direction, or blow through the underbelly of an armored tank. Throughout the museum there are photos of children, women and men who have been maimed by mine explosions.
Ironically, Saturday morning (same day I visited the Omar Mine Museum) an Afghan National Army tank driving through the Karte Parwan district of Kabul veered off the road a little and hit a landmine. No one was injured, but it makes one very cautious about venturing off the beaten path, even in the city.
Unfortunately pictures are not allowed inside the museum, so I have some pictures from the grounds, which are also very interesting.