Biography

Peter Strandberg in El Salvador, 1991

Peter Strandberg in El Salvador, 1991

 

Peter Strandberg (1955-2008), born in Västerås, Sweden in June 10, 1955, was a freelance war journalist and photographer. As Peter himself put it, «it all started as a pure coincidence when I was 18 years old, living with a girlfriend, and ending up in Beirut, Lebanon» in 1975 when the civil war began. It was the first trembling step to what he – years later – would envisage as a professional career.

In the 1980s, Peter enrolled in a History degree at Uppsala University and went on his first assignment in 1988 covering the Polisario guerrilla’s fifteenth anniversary in Western Sahara. Shortly afterwards, he covered the civil war in Angola, met the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Karen rebels in Burma, as well as the remaining Mujahideen’s struggle against the Soviet backed government army in Afghanistan.

Since then, and for the next twenty years, Peter covered and reported from war-zones in all corners of the world: from the jungle and rice paddies in Cambodia and Burma to the Afghan mountains, to the bloodbaths on the African continents in Sierra Leona, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Angola, and Congo-Kinshasa, including the conflicts that arose with the fall of USSR and Yugoslavia, such as Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, to the violence in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Haiti, and countless others…

During these journeys, Peter met some of the characters involved and responsible for the long driven wars, such as Jonas Savimbi (UNITA leader) in Angola, Foday Sankoh (RUF leader) in Sierra Leone, and Charles Taylor (NPFL leader, and later President) in Liberia.

Between 1990 and 1995, Peter made a number of war-reportages together with photographer and camera man Martin Adler, also from Västerås, Sweden. Martin was shot to death by an unknown killer in Mogadishu on June 23, 2006. He was one of the best professionals in this line of work Peter ever worked with (See En kär vän i krig och kaos är borta, VLT, måndag den 3 juli 2006).

After 09/11 Peter went to both Afghanistan and Iraq, including a London-Baghdad trip on a land rover, following the ‘Human Shields’, just prior to the US invasion. Covering these two wars, in what would become a locus of mass-media, was in Peter’s own words, «a kind of ‘media-war’ where knowledge and contacts have no importance, only the cash you carry with you».

Peter’s reportages and photos from wars and conflicts around the world were published in a number of newspapers and magazines, including: Göteborgs-Posten, Dagens Nyheter, Expressen, GT/Idag, Sydsvenska Dagbladet, VLT (Sweden); Aften Posten, Dagbladet, Arbeider Bladet (Norway); Politiken, Berlingske Tidende, Information (Denmark); Helsingin Sanomat, Ilta Sanomat (Finland); Independent, Sunday Times, Observer, New African (UK ); Mail & Guardian (South Africa); The Age, Yen Magazine (Australia); Der Spiegel, Die Welt (Germany); Panorama (Italy); El Pais, Cambio 16 (Spain); Expresso, Grande Reportagem, Público, O Independente (Portugal); Welt-Woche (Schwitzerland), etc.

Since 1996 Peter lived in Lisbon, Portugal. During his time off, he dedicated himself to painting and drawing inspired by his experience and impressions from a long war-covering career. In 2005, he held an exhibition entitled «War Graffiti» at Biblioteca Museu República e Resistência in Lisbon.

In 2008, Peter moved to Vilnius, Lithuania, where he died unexpectedly on November 6. After twenty years of reporting from the world’s troubled corners – running zig-zag through grenades and bullets amidst no man’s land, traveling with convoys of mules over nameless mountains, crossing rivers in the dawn with nervous and restless soldiers, after the witness of extreme poverty and human suffering amid violence, repression and chaos – Peter had his heart betraying him.