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Islamic body hunters – Wade Laube, 2004

7 February 2008

Islamic body hunters – Wade Laube, 2004
Photographer since 2001, EPUk member since 2007

Members of fundamentalist Muslim groups like Korps Relawan Mujahidin and Front Pembela Islam (FPI) descended on Banda Aceh, Indonesia, following the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. An under sea earthquake off Indonesia’s west coast triggered a series of devastating tsunamis which killed over 185,000 people, inundating costal communities across Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Rated 9.3 on the Richter scale, it is the second largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. Relief agencies reported that one third of the dead were children, because kids were less able to resist the rising water and it was reported by Oxfam that four times more women than men were killed, as the tsunami struck while many were waiting along the shore for their fishermen husbands to come home.

This picture shows members of a fundamentalistic Muslim group who, along with dozens of others, had travelled to Aceh. Their self-assigned mission was to recover the bodies of their Islamic countrymen, some still sitting in situ three weeks after, and to bury them as soon as possible in accordance with their religious custom. Here, they can be seen praying over the body of a dead child. Many of these men were openly hostile to Western countries, especially their near-neighbours and my homeland, Australia. Some spoke of fighting in Afghanistan against the Russians, and others alluded to more recent visits! But on this occasion they were doing humanitarian work that no body else could stomach.

After seven years in the Australian army, Wade Laube became a working photographer in 2001, and since then has operated in over a dozen countries, mainly for The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. Wade moved to London in 2007, where he works mainly in editorial and photojournalism, with some commercial work. His commercial clients have included Deutsche Bank, Microsoft, Motorola, and Oracle.

Photographer since 2001, EPUK member since 2007.

See more work by Wade Laube

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