Human Rights - Honorable mention: Pierpaolo Mittica
Working in Hell: The Sulfur Mines of Eastern Java
Many of the miners' eyes are burned by toxic fumes.
In eastern Java, Mount Ijen, a live volcano, looms high above the landscape. Molten sulfur funnels out of pipes deep inside the crater, filling the air with a toxic mix of pungent sulfur gas and smoke. These Indonesian miners, in primitive conditions not seen in most places for more than a century, often wear no protection, carrying up to 100 kilos of sulfur on their shoulders, climbing steep rocky paths in extreme humidity and descending the volcano for 3 kilometers, barefoot, twice daily, choking from the toxic fumes. They are not allowed to have a union to protect them. Still, it's the only job they have, earning them the equivalent of USD$8 per day. The conditions destroy their lungs, eyes and other tissues and their life expectancy is fifty years - a result some would describe as a systematic violation of human and labor rights.