On the 3rd March, Parisian journalist Raphael Beaugrand took off on his bicycle with an aim to
reach Hiroshima by 15th January 2011. Here he tells us why.
On the project
More than sixty years ago, war was raging in my native France. The atrocities of the Second
World War follow different generations. Memories die with people and the consequences of
conflict fade into oblivion. However, since 1945, blood is still shed in Eurasia. Armed combats,
internal rivalries or hostilities from neighboring countries have hit entire populations. From
Bosnia to Japan, the road is riddled with conflicts past, present and future. Between
Srebrenica and Hiroshima, two cities notorious for the atrocities of war, several countries
have witnessed deadly episodes in their history. Other countries live in fear of arms returning.
On this road that stretches from Paris to his final destination, covered by Beaugrand on a
bicycle, there still lives an unaccounted number of victims of genocide, wars of
independence, frozen conflicts, terrorist acts or armed repression.
Absorbing their daily lives and collecting their stories, Beaugrande will listen to the people as
they tell of their memories, as well as hopes and dreams for the future.
Hosted by locals, sitting at a restaurant table or in an office, Beaugrand wishes to illustrate
dark pages of history and show that despite losses and sorrows, life has revived in the hope
of new, happier days ahead.
Journalist since 2007 for the web edition of Le Point weekly newspaper, I have been keen on
analyzing and understanding the world. Passionate about cycling and fond of traveling, I have
previously had the good fortune of spending several months on the roads of Eurasia.
I spent a year in China and several weeks at a time in India, Vietnam, Cambodia and the
countries that constituted the former socialist republic of Yugoslavia, and was able to deepen
my understanding of the conflicts that these areas have encountered.
Combining my thirst for discovery with my interest in the history of Eurasian countries, I
initiated this project of cycling through conflict zones two years ago. The intention was to find
out how life has re-emerged for the victims, what their memories of the conflict are, -and what
their hopes are today.
All have lost a relative, have seen adverse army marching under their eyes, have had to
escape their countries or live in fear of repression. “39th Parallel” is a collection of encounters
capturing victims’ daily lives and showing their new lives and ongoing struggle.
It will be an antology of testimonies from people of Eurasia. From the mountains of the
Balkans and the Black sea shore, via South Caucasus, Caspian Sea shores, Kazakhs plains,
Kyrgyzstan mountains, desert of Taclamacan, Korean peninsula or Japanese archipelago, a
whole continent will be explored from West to East. Capturing these moments every day, the
reportage is a picture of its inhabitants. A picture of people met, countries traveled and
Filming along the way I will put footage online as I proceed, allowing me to share my
adventure with the readers.
On the 3rd of March, leaving from Paris, my well-equipped bicycle will depart for the
roads of Eurasia. A journalistic adventure, physical challenge and geographical
discovery; Paris - Hiroshima will not be a speedy trip. The route extends across
France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia,
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, South Korea and Japan.
Arrival in Hiroshima is planned to take place on the 15th of January 2011.
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