Earlier this year, Jeff Antebi announced a hiatus from his very successful music career (as founder and creative director of Waxploitation Records, Abtebi managed Gnarls Barkley, Danger Mouse, and other left-field successes) to pursue his passion for photojournalism abroad. He is particularly interested in electoral politics in developing nations, and his website documents his travels through Haiti, Brazil, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. His most recent email alert describes his experiences during Thailand's recent national elections:
I spent 72 hours in Southern Thailand where they were having sub-district elections in a time of an ongoing Islamic Jihad. This most recent incarnation of the insurgency began in 2004 and it doesn't get a lot of attention outside of Thailand, because it plods on quietly but steadily. Rather than having huge moments of catastrophe, it's been more of an average of one-murder-a-day for five years.
Thailand is primarily a Buddhist country. It's in the deep south that things flip. In the three southern provinces there are 1 million people and most are Muslim. 100 years ago, this place was separate from Thailand. So the goal of the Jihad is all about getting a separate state again.
The problem is, the separatists are extremists. They are, in my opinion, as inhuman as the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. I was there for less than 3 days and photographed the results of 2 bombing incidents in front of restaurants. Innocent people, some fellow Muslims, going about their lives were the ones impacted by the blasts. I photographed two women in the hospital. One was a woman who had been across the street selling bananas. One was working in the restaurant. One women I saw but didn't photograph was in excruciating pain, having had the front of her body ripped open.
I had plans to meet a man who had been an insurgent in the 60's but later in life became a non-Jihadist community leader. Right before I was to meet him, he was murdered along with his daughter and son-in-law. The people who shot them were wearing Thai police uniforms, and as of yesterday, no one was sure if they were cops or insurgents dressed like cops. I was unable to meet him, but I went to his son's house and photographed an old photo. I photographed the wet blood still covering the tiles at his daughter's home where they were shot down with AKs. I'm by no means educated on what's happening there. If you are interested in learning more, Human Rights Watch provides great background here http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2007/08/27/no-one-safe
I've photographed Senate Elections in Haiti, Presidential Elections in Afghanistan and Sub-District Elections in South Thailand. All three demonstrate the difficulties of voting in times of war and conflict. Photos of all this at www.jeffantebi.com.