Missing British scientist found dead in Greece

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Nicosia-based British astrophysicist Natalie Christopher’s body has been found in a ravine on the Greek island of Ikaria two days after she disappeared. (AFP)
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The cause of death of the scientist, who had been on holiday with her partner, has not yet been determined. Greek police had been searching for Christopher after she reportedly failed to return from a run. (AFP)
Updated 07 August 2019

Missing British scientist found dead in Greece

  • Body of missing British scientist Natalie Christopher found in ravine on Greek island of Ikaria
  • Greek police had been searching for Christopher after she reportedly failed to return from a run on Monday

ATHENS: The body of a missing British scientist has been found in a ravine on the Greek island of Ikaria two days after she disappeared, Greek public television reported on Wednesday.
The cause of death of Nicosia-based astrophysicist Natalie Christopher, who had been on holiday with her partner, was not yet determined, the ERT channel said.
Greek police had been searching for the 35-year-old after she reportedly failed to return from a run on Monday.
A Greek police spokeswoman earlier told AFP that police had late Tuesday joined Ikaria port patrols, firefighters and volunteers already looking for the scientist.
According to Greek and Cypriot media, Christopher and her 38-year-old Cypriot partner had arrived on the Aegean island on Saturday and stayed near the port of Agios Kirykos. She left their hotel for a jog on Monday morning but never returned, her partner told media.
“The couple talked by phone around 10:00 am (0700 GMT) and she said she had gone for a run in the neighborhood,” a police spokesman told Cypriot television.
The Cyprus Mail website said Christopher’s companion notified the police that she had not returned at around 12:40 pm, while other press reports said her phone has been traced to the island of Fournoi, about 10 kilometers (six miles) away, without saying how it might have got there.
Greek media reports also said traces of blood had been found in the couple’s hotel room and were being examined.
Christopher, well known in Cyprus as an active sportswoman, was involved in several social media projects, including one — “Cyprus Girls Can” — which aims to break down barriers between Greek and Turkish youngsters on the divided island.
The incident comes three weeks after the murder of US molecular biologist Suzanne Eaton on the Greek island of Crete.
The 59-year-old had been attending a conference near the city of Chania and gone out on July 2 without taking her mobile phone, the police said.
Her body was found six days later in an abandoned World War II bunker near the town of Chania.
A 27-year-old farmer confessed to raping and killing Eaton, who had worked for the Max Planck Institute at Dresden University.


A tale of two cities: Project aims to retell lost stories from Lahore, Delhi

Updated 22 January 2020

A tale of two cities: Project aims to retell lost stories from Lahore, Delhi

  • Will give migrants a virtual tour of their childhood towns and homes torn apart by partition of 1947

NEW DELHI: Sparsh Ahuja and Ameena Malak grew up listening to their grandparents narrate stories of the partition from 1947.
Ahuja’s grandfather, Ishar Das Arora, was 7 years old when the Indian subcontinent was divided into two by the British, creating India and Pakistan. 
More than 14 million people were displaced at the time, and about one million perished in the fighting that followed.
Arora moved from a Pakistani village, named Bela, to Delhi after living in several refugee camps and escaping the violence.
Meanwhile, Malak’s grandfather, Ahmed Rafiq, moved from the Indian city of Hoshiarpur to Pakistan’s Lahore.
Now in their 70s, both the grandparents yearn to go back home and see the places where they were born and spent their childhoods. 
However, the constant uncertainty in the relationship between India and Pakistan and their old age has made the task of visiting their respective birthplaces extremely difficult.
To fulfill the wishes of their grandparents, and several others who yearn to visit their ancestral homelands, Ahuja and Malak decided to launch Project Dastaan (story).
“What started as an idea for a student project last year at Oxford University became a larger peace-building venture,” Ahuja, the director of the project, said.
Project Dastaan is a university-backed virtual reality (VR) peace-building initiative reconnecting displaced survivors of partition with their childhood through bespoke 360-degree digital experiences.
Backed by the South Asia Programme at Oxford, it uses VR headsets to give these migrants, who are often over 80 years old, a virtual tour of their childhood towns and homes. It shows them the people and places they most want to see again by finding the exact locations and memories that the survivors seek to revisit, and recreates them.
“It is a creative effort to start a new kind of conversation based on the direct experience of a now-foreign country in the present, rather than relying upon records and memories from the past,” Ahuja told Arab News.
He added that Pakistan-based Khalid Bashir Rai “teared up after his VR experience, and told us we had transported him back” to his childhood.
“At its heart, the project is a poignant commentary on its own absurdity. By taking these refugees back we are trying to highlight the cultural impact of decades of divisive foreign policy and sectarian conflict on the subcontinent. This is a task for policymakers, not university students. In an ideal world, a project like this shouldn’t exist,” Ahuja said.
Other members of Project Dastaan — Saadia Gardezi and Sam Dalrymple — have a connection with partition, too. Gardezi grew up with partition stories; her grandmother volunteered at refugee camps in Lahore, and her grandfather witnessed terrible violence as a young man.
Dalrymple’s grandfather had been a British officer in India during the twilight years of the British Empire. So scarred was he by the partition that he never visited Dalrymple’s family in Delhi, even after 30 years of them living there.
“I think Dastaan is ultimately about stripping away the layers of politics and trying to solve a very simple problem: That children forced to leave their homes, have never been able to go back again,” Dalrymple told Arab News.
Ahuja added: “The partition projects are a peace offering in the heart of hostility. It is an attempt at creating a wider cultural dialogue between citizens and policymakers of the three countries.”
The project aims to reconnect 75 survivors of the partition of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh with their childhood memories, when the subcontinent observes 75 years of partition in 2022.
Project Dastaan is also producing a documentary called “Child of Empire” that will put viewers in the shoes of a 1947 partition migrant, and will be shown at film festivals and museums.