“You can put the grenade down now, please”

Unbroadcast piece from Iraq 2003

Chamchamal gun market – Multimedia

In March 2003 while waiting for the Americans to invade Iraq I went to a gun market in a dusty little town called Chamchamal with an incredibly talented photojournalist called Ramin Talaie.

There was very little you couldn’t buy and we passed the time by recording a shopping expedition. I never intended to broadcast it at the time. It would have been more than a little insensitive given the number of people who were to die during the invasion and subsequent insurgency.

But many years later Ramin asked me for a copy of it and juxtaposed it alongside some beautiful photographs he took that day

The young faces are particularly poignant. You can draw your own conclusions about the futures of these young lads in a country where you can buy a grenade on the side of the road for about a euro.

I was struck by the games these kids were playing. Everywhere else in the world young boys will pick up a stick and pretend that it is a gun. In Chamchamal sticks were make believe satellite phones or TV cameras presumably because guns and RPG’s are so commonplace.


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2 responses to ““You can put the grenade down now, please”

  1. fermoyweir

    Brilliant and very disturbing stuff, Philip. Heartbreaking to look at those kids and wonder whether they are still alive now.
    Thanks for sharing that.
    -Donal O’Keeffe.

  2. As compelling as it is heart rending

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