Making art out of Ratko Mladic's diary

BELGRADE, Serbia (AFP) — For nearly four years Serbian artist Vladimir Miladinovic started his day with a morning coffee and the diary of one of the Balkans' most notorious war criminals, Ratko Mladic. Word for word, he painstakingly copied the notebook's 400 pages by hand onto fresh white sheets, which now cover the walls of a Belgrade exhibit raising questions about how to confront one of the region's darkest chapters.

Serbia's first #MeToo trial proves a lonely path

BRUS, Serbia (AFP) — Everyone in town told Marija Lukic not to do it. But eventually, "I couldn't stand it any more," the 31-year-old said, of the moment she decided to break a taboo and publicly accuse the mayor of her small Serbian town of repeated sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. A year later, the former secretary is facing down mobs of men outside court and small-town power politics in the first high-profile #MeToo trial in the Balkans.

On Montenegro's glittering coast, tourism brings a blessing and a curse

KOTOR, Montenegro (AFP) — Montenegro's medieval walled city of Kotor, an Adriatic seaport cradled in a spectacular fjord-like bay, has survived centuries of weather and warfare. Now it is facing a different kind of assault, that of gargantuan cruise ships disgorging throngs of tourists threatening a place that was only a few years ago commonly described as a "hidden gem".

In Muslim-majority Albania, a sole Jewish history museum on the brink

TIRANA, Albania (AFP) — On a sloped, cobblestone street in southern Albania sits a small shop, empty except for a dozen framed panels on the walls bearing photos and stories from 500 years of Jewish life. It may be modest but the story it tells is exceptional: the Balkan state is the only Nazi-occupied territory whose Jewish population increased during World War II, thanks to the bravery of ordinary families who harboured hundreds of refugees fleeing persecution during the Holocaust.

In Macedonia, emigration leaves empty villages in its wake

GRADOVCI, Macedonia (AFP) - Only one man knows how the Macedonian village of Gradovci will vote in Sunday's referendum: Dushan Nikolovski, the sole year-round resident of the near-deserted community, now a collection of crumbling stone homes. Like scores of other abandoned towns dotting Macedonia's countryside, the empty village, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the capital Skopje, is a monument to the waves of emigration that have gutted the Balkan country's economy.
Load More Articles

Out of the woods: Thai 'hermits' harness web to go global

KHON KAEN, Thailand (AFP) — From communing with forest spirits to whipping up love potions, Thailand's cave-dwelling hermits once conducted their supernatural endeavours with just ancient magic and ritual as their guide. But today's sorcerers are more connected than ever: armed with smart phones, Facebook profiles and business-savvy, a new crop of mystics are harnessing tech to cultivate followings across Asia.

Making of a monarch: Thais set to part with the 'people's king'

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Flipping through a binder of images of Thailand's late king Bhumibol Adulyadej, Somsree pauses and pulls out her favourite: a shot from the 80s of the casually-dressed monarch sitting on a wooden bridge, his back against a truck and chatting with a villager. "He went there to work," the 59-year-old says, misty-eyed at the memory of Bhumibol, whose funeral on Thursday will bring Thailand to a standstill.

Made in Khmerica: the US-raised Cambodians deported to a foreign home

BATTAMBANG, Cambodia (AFP) — Guzzling beer and pizza as hip-hop blasts from a stack of speakers, Kookie's thoughts drift back to America, a country that took him in as a child refugee from Cambodia but deported him to the kingdom years later for a criminal record. Returning to the US is just a dream for the heavily tattooed Kookie and his fellow exiles, who are among hundreds of Cambodian refugees banished from the US after serving time for gang shootouts and other crimes committed as youths in America's tough inner cities.

Farm-to-festival: Thai folk music strikes a global chord

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) - Hipsters in flowing skirts and crop tops sway to the Thai band's hypnotic groove at an exclusive music festival in Thailand, while a clutch of cleaning staff quietly look on from the fringes. "I had no idea foreigners like molam," says 55-year-old Saengyan Promduang, referring to the folk tunes unique to her rural home region that are captivating the well-heeled crowd outside Bangkok.

Last orders loom at Uncle Pan's Bangkok noodle stall

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) - For three decades everyone from cops and builders, to street cleaners and partying rich kids have gorged on noodles at Uncle Pan's streetside stall in Bangkok's chic-est neighbourhood. But now it is the 67-year-old food vendor who is no longer welcome at his pavement spot, a victim of a purge of food stalls by Bangkok's governor who says they are cluttering the capital's curbs.

Developers zero-in on Bangkok's historic Chinatown

BANGKOK, Thailand (APF) — For nearly a century Thanuan has watched history sweep through the bustling maze of alleyways that make up Bangkok's Chinatown, one of the city's few districts yet to be devoured by malls and high-rise condos. But change is coming -- and fast. A new metro service will soon plough straight into the heart of the historic quarter, and in the process transform a chaotic but charming area into a property goldmine.

Railroad to nowhere? China draws a line across landlocked Laos

LUANG NAM THA, Laos — Chang Son first heard about the train that will be routed through his mountainous village five years ago. But today, the only sign of progress is a dusty cement plaque that Chinese developers installed to mark the proposed route. “We are sure the train will come, but we don’t know when,” says Mr. Chang, who lives next to a hillside in Ban Pasak village through which the line would pass, one of 72 planned tunnels.

In Bangkok bomb probe, taxi drivers are city's eyes and ears

BANGKOK, Thailand — Kasem Pooksuwan heard a loud noise and looked up to see a plume of smoke. It must be an electrical fire, he thought. But he had little time to think, because a customer wearing a bright yellow shirt had arrived at his motorcycle taxi stand and needed a ride. it wasn't until the next day that Kasem realized the passenger in the yellow shirt was a wanted man, accused of detonating a bomb just down the road in Bangkok’s central shopping district, killing 20 people.
Load More Articles