Here is Israeli artist Amir Schiby commemorating the Israeli killing of four Palestinian children playing on a beach in Gaza:
Just a few days after the event:
100 years ago today, Gavrilo Princip kills Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Chotek in Sarajevo. A few weeks later, WWI started. For some reason, one thing in particular comes to mind when I remember my history lessons: shell shock.
Shell shock was the reaction of some soldiers in World War I to the trauma of battle and to the intensity of the bombardments. The illness covered a wide variety of symptoms: helplessness appearing variously as panic or flight, an inability to reason, sleep, walk or talk, amnesia, hysterical paralysis, contractures, mutism. A dazed thousand-yard stare is also typical.
Here are two interesting and short documentaries:
Most of the time, I write about human rights in highly abstract terms, and I feel that this doesn’t quite do justice to the theme. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is, like most clichés, partially true. Hence my decision to publish photographs of human rights violations. I even have a blog series entirely dedicated to iconic or soon to be iconic images of human rights violations.
Now and then, this decision has led to complaints from readers. The images that I publish, although invariably showing human rights violations, do not necessarily induce horror or disgust, but some of them do given the nature of the topic. It’s understandably unpleasant when shocking images are hoisted upon readers without warning. I do try to hide the most horrific ones behind a warning, as in this case for example. But in general I just show the images as they are.
Why do I do this? Certainly not because I like to shock. My only reason for posting images of rights violations is our need to know what it means to have our rights violated. A lot of this meaning is captured in images rather than words. We often only really know what it means to have our rights violated when we know what it looks like to have our rights violated. This isn’t just because of mnemonic reasons – although it’s obviously true that an image will produce better retention, and that better retention will increase long term consciousness. (One can reasonably hope that long term consciousness of an issue promotes activism). Images have a vividness and clarity that is often absent from words – or at least from my words. Readers’ feelings of disgust or horror, although regrettable, are a necessary corollary of the process of learning about human rights.
Apart from reader sensitivities, there are other arguments against the publication of images of people having their rights violated. For example, people may be harmed by the knowledge that the suffering of their friends or family members is displayed in public. In some cases, they may even learn about this suffering through the publication of photographs, which is of course an even greater form of harm. And what about the dignity and privacy of those suffering?
Those points are moot in the case of most photographs that I publish. Those are often photographs that have been published before, and I tend not to publish very recent ones. Hence I’m not telling relatives about what happened to their loved ones; and privacy is obviously not a concern to victims and relatives who are long since death. When I do publish photos of recent events, I try to blur the victims’ faces (see this example).
I have to say that I’m not absolutely convinced I’m doing the right thing here. Posts like this one make me doubt. So I’m open to persuasion, but as it stands I’ll keep my policy in place.
The “June 4th Incident“, known to everyone outside of the Chinese government as the Tiananmen Massacre, has it’s 25th anniversary today. Here’s an image taken one day after, on June 5th, 1989:
This one is taken on the day itself:
The Sri Lankan Civil War began in July 1983. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers) fought an insurgency against the government to create an independent Tamil state called Tamil Eelam in the north and the east of the island. After a 26-year military campaign, the Sri Lankan military defeated the Tamil Tigers in May 2009, bringing the civil war to an end. An estimated 100,000 people were killed. Both sides, but especially the Sri Lankan government during the final phase of and just after the war, committed horrible crimes.
This appears to be the brutalized corpse of a Tamil fighter:
Eugen Weidmann (1908-1939) was the last person to be publicly executed in France in June 1939. He was guilty of multiple murders. Executions by guillotine in France continued in private until September 10, 1977, when Hamida Djandoubi was the last person to be executed.
Weidmann’s execution was photographed and even filmed. Here are some of the photographs:
Here’s the film (careful: it’s upsetting):
This is the man in better times:
For comparison: the U.S. performed it’s last public execution three years earlier, in 1936, and is of course still killing criminals in this day and age.
A young man being executed in Tehran a few nights ago. Some reports say that the witnesses in the first image were the family of the person executed, others say that it’s the family of his victims. Makes a big difference in interpretation of the image, obviously. Maybe they’re both there.
Yarmouk, a Palestinian neighborhood in Damascus, has been under siege by the Syrian army since July 2013.
At least 55 people have died from hunger and the majority of children are suffering from malnutrition, according to a Palestinian activist living in Yarmouk.
About 20,000 people are currently besieged in Yarmouk. The regime of Bashar al-Assad says “terrorists” are holding people hostage. Beyond the tactical starvation, Syrian jets have also been bombing the area.
This picture, published by United Nations Relief Workers Agency, shows a seemingly endless line of people waiting for food aid.
Here’s a similar image from somewhere else (looks like DC):
There’s obviously no human right to wear a bikini, but getting arrested for wearing one is a rights violation. And all this is indicative of society’s disregard for gender equality. The famous story of Annette Kellerman is relevant here. Kellerman was famous for advocating the right of women to wear a one-piece bathing suit, which was controversial at the time. According to an Australian magazine, “In the early 1900s, women were expected to wear cumbersome dress and pantaloon combinations when swimming. In 1907, at the height of her popularity, Kellerman was arrested on Revere Beach, Massachusetts, for indecency – she was wearing one of her fitted one-piece costumes.” Here she is:
Unsurprisingly, women have been the main targets of the decency police. And yet, here’s an example of a man at a beach in the Netherlands being fined for not wearing decent clothes (in 1931):
Franklin Eugene McCain died two days ago. McCain and three others, now known as the “Greensboro Four,” are credited with initiating the sit-in movement when they sat down at the F. W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro on February 1, 1960 and requested service.
Despite the iconic nature of this image I couldn’t find any information about it. Lots of websites have posted it, but never with any useful comments. I don’t know where it’s taken. Was it a protest that turned violent? Who was protesting what? Is it police brutality or a justified hit? If it’s official misconduct then it’s certainly a human rights violation. The right to protest is a protected form of free speech. Or maybe it wasn’t a protest at all. (In which case we could still be looking at a rights violation).
Your help is welcome. Please use the comment section if you know something about the image.
More iconic photos.
three weeks after Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus abruptly derailed school desegregation in September 1957. Confident that the Negroes would be kept out by the cordon of Arkansas National Guardsmen surrounding the school, crowds of angry whites—many having no connection to the school or to Little Rock—arrived every morning to demonstrate their disapproval of integration. They watched white students enter the school and kept a watchful eye to make sure black students, though backed by a federal court order allowing them in, didn’t try to sneak in. White reporters and cameramen faced relentless heckling, physical taunts and spittle. Black reporters faced worse. The story had drawn many of the most experienced journalists in the black press, reporters who had braved the back roads of the South and pioneered civil rights coverage long before it caught on with the mainstream white press. But as they tried to penetrate the scene around the high school, they met scorn and stonewalling as National Guardsmen quickly moved them off the premises and away from the story.
On the warm Monday morning of Sept. 23, the integration stalemate broke and the story changed. The National Guard, following a federal court edict, had withdrawn. The white crowds stayed, however, leaving the school’s grounds and perimeter beyond the control of authorities. Black students on their way to the school in a station wagon were heading into an unpredictable mob scene.
At the same time, in a separate car, intent on witnessing and covering the moment firsthand, were four seasoned black newsmen. Their leader was the tall, dark-skinned and serious L. Alex Wilson, the editor and general manager of the Tri-State Defender of Memphis, Tennessee—the newspaper that was the southern outpost of the Chicago Defender, one of the foremost black newspapers in the United States. (Continue reading).
These images are not from the more infamous famine that occurred during the Great Leap Forward.
George Silk was a LIFE Magazine staffer, working for them 30 years. He extensively covered many aspects of the second world war, at one point being even captured by the Germans, and then fortunately escaping. He was also the first photographer to document Nagasaki after the atomic bombing. Immediately after the war, he was in China recording the poor social conditions and the lack of resources and its devastating effects on the Chinese populace. (source)