Chris Stowers

, Democratic Republic of Congo

INDONESIA, NORTH SUMATRA, Aceh Province, Banda Aceh; A man in a cafe, smoking, holds his head seemingly to gather his thoughts which have been scattered by the torrent of words from the woman at the table behind him. Fiercely independent, and historically at odds with the central authorities in Jakarta, Aceh is now classified as a Special Region of Indonesia. Overwhelmingly Muslim, Aceh is the first province of this vast and mainly religiously moderate archipelago to formally instigate Sharia Law. Alcohol is strictly banned, as is drug use and gambling, and, more controversially argue womens' right groups and NGO's, so are the powers of the local government impinging on the freedom of women here to dress or even ride motorcycles in the manner they prefer. Struggling to redefine itself following the physical, psychological and economic trauma inflicted by the Dec 26th, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami; along with the recent cessation of a decades-long armed conflict with the Indonesian army, a New Aceh is rising. A chief producer of Grade-A coffee, blessed with abundant timber, rice and off-shore natural gas reserves, not to mention the potential to develop the region into an unspoilt tourist haven, Aceh is finally coming in from the cold. Budget airlines, both domestic and international, are making the journey to this once isolated tip of Sumatra a cheap and easy proposition, with the regions' capital, Banda Aceh, being geographically far closer to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur than it's own capital, Jakarta. January, 2013. Credit: Chris Stowers/PANOS

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Chris Stowers
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Democratic Republic of Congo
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4400 x 2928 pixels
37.25 x 24.79 cm (300 dpi)
14.67 x 9.76 inch (300 dpi)
3.6 MB size on disk
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