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Another year has come and gone and with it hundreds of thousands of images have recorded the world's evolving history; moments in individual lives; the weather and it's affects on the planet; acts of humanity and tragedies brought by man and by nature. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the first 4 months of 2012. Parts II and III to follow this week. -- Paula Nelson ( 64 photos total)
Fireworks light up the skyline and Big Ben just after midnight, January 1, 2012 in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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<< Previous | Next >> Katie Khouri

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When photojournalist Tim Hetherington suffered a mortar shell wound to the groin in Libya in April of last year, he ultimately died of massive blood loss. His death, according to friends, may have been prevented.

“Tim was my closest friend,” says Michael Kamber, founder and director of the Bronx Documentary Center. “He bled to death because he was surrounded by photographers who didn’t know how to stop the bleeding.”

In response to this assessment, Hetherington’s other close friend and co-director of the Oscar winning documentary Restrepo, Sebastian Junger, founded Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues (RISC), of which Kamber sits on the board. The organization simulates real war-injury scenarios at the Bronx Documentary Center, complete with pools of blood, contorted limbs and frenetic movement amid smoke-clad air, in order to train photographers and journalists in potentially life-saving techniques. “We go to great lengths to achieve the feel of war,” says Kamber.

“My adrenaline was going after I finished shooting the drills,” says photographer and Bronx Documentary Center volunteer, Katie Khouri. ”There was a real sense of urgency once trainer Sergeant Sawyer Alberi threw the smoke bombs and the CD of wailing and sporadic gunfire started. The trainees — all of whom are experienced conflict journalists – are a fun group of people but when the simulation began everyone switched into go mode.”

The need for medical training among journalists is especially desperate now as news outlets are employing freelancers — many without insurance or institutional support – to deliver stories.

“The industry is closing down bureaus. Increasing we are relying on freelancers for photographs. Look at the images from Syria, almost all of those are by freelancers, many of whom are without medical training or medical kits. It’s a recipe for disaster,” says Kamber, who has reported from over a dozen conflict zones during his career and even admits that he was unprepared in the past.

In recent years, the deaths of several photojournalists have reminded us of the extreme dangers faced by reporters in conflict zones. Getty photographer Chris Hondros died in the same mortar explosion as Hetherington; Anton Hammerle was killed by Gaddafi loyalists in April 2011; and Rémi Ochlik died in the bombing of Homs, Syria, in February of this year.

Prior to Hetherington’s death, he and Kamber were in the planning stages of a center devoted to video and photo documentary work.

“The Bronx Documentary Center is in Tim’s honor,” says Kamber. “It is dedicated to exactly what he believed in.”

Producing still and moving images for news, for film, for art spaces and for education, Hetherington believed in and practiced an approach to visual journalism that broke through the traditional confines of genre. The Bronx Documentary Center described by Kamber as a “community space, but not a hangout space” is devoted to serious application of skills and engagement. That extends from practical and vital training to exhibitions, lectures and workshops.

“We’re inventing new ways [to support documentary] and finding new outlets for documentary work, now that traditional media is dying and the public are distracted by a million points of white noise,” says Kamber.

Kamber lived in the Bronx during the eighties and says the support form the local community has been only positive, even during the conflict simulations that spill smoke, noise and blood onto the adjacents streets.

“Hundreds of people come by to stop, watch, comment, take photos and encourage us,” says Kamber. “Last year, when some neighbors heard the recording of the gunfire, they called the police, which is understandable. This year we’ve been very conscious to reach out to the NYPD.”

Unlike general hostile-environment training, RISC is focused on exclusively on medical training and on the procedures that will sustain someone between injury and the hospital front door. Tim Hetherington was only minutes from a hospital when he was struck by mortar fire in Misrata, Libya.

Through fundraising, RISC covers the cost of training which is approximately $1,000 per journalist. Following successful programs in New York, RISC plans training in London and Beirut. The response has been overwhelming. Kamber says, ”We’ve waiting lists. Journalists are desperate to get this training.”

Rookies, veterans, untrained and partially trained alike, there is a very real need for RISC’s type of training and photographers know it.

“You could see in some faces that it was taking them back to some bad memories,” says Khouri. “The reality is that potentially having to save an injured fellow journalist is a very real possibility when you report from the front lines. No one there took that responsibility lightly.”

RISC has an ongoing fundraising effort at Global Giving. Visit the RISC website and follow RISC on Facebook and Twitter

All images: Katie Khouri

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“War is worse than drugs. One moment it’s a bad trip, a nightmare. But the next moment, as soon as the immediate danger has passed, there is an overpowering desire to go back for more. To risk one’s life in order to get more pictures in return for not very much. It is an incomprehensible force that pushes us to keep going back in.”

-Rémi Ochlik, 2004

This spring, after French war photographer Rémi Ochlik was killed during fighting in Homs, Syria, a group of close friends and colleagues felt their obligations to the photographer weren’t complete. Meeting aboard a TGV train on their way to Paris from the World Press awards ceremony in Amsterdam in late April, the group took stock of everything that had happened since Rémi’s death. His photographs had spoken for themselves when exhibited in tribute in Amsterdam. The large circle of friends gathered in his name was a testament to his character; he was always the guy who would make friends sharing a cigarette. But one duty remained unfinished—not a tribute, nor a memorial, but a commitment to continue what was and what should have been in Rémi’s life.

Now, five months later, Revolutions is finisheda book of 144 pages, across which Rémi’s photographs of the Arab Spring spread forth. The tome depicts hope, anger, celebration and fear—some of humanity’s most powerful emotions recorded in photographs—and feelings the photographer undoubtedly felt during a career cut short by the harsh realities often facing those documenting armed conflict.

Scattered through this visual record of Rémi’s witness are the words of friends, which encompass close confidants, long-time coworkers and fellow photographers. Their testimonies are short, speaking to the memories of a man killed at a time and place in the world many photographers hesitated to cover.

Ochlik began his photography of the Arab Spring in Tunisia—and so the book does the same. “It is impressive to see the ease with which he moves through the street as the rocks fly everywhere,” writes Julien De Rosa of his shared time with Rémi outside Tahrir Square in Cairo. “This is clearly his natural environment.”

Rémi, considered by colleagues an old-school photographer despite his young age (29), moved with confidence and resolve through the borders of conflict in the Middle East. This is what makes his death that much more painful, for at his age and with his skill, his potential had seemed limitless.

“Be safe, okay?” were the last words that Gert Van Langendonck told Rémi before his final trip to the besieged city of Homs. “You’ve already won your World Press Photo.” And indeed Rémi’s work was deserving of high honor—his story from Libya earned him first prize in the 2012 World Press Photo competition’s General News category. His photographic eye was strong—strengthening, even—as he entered Syria. A vision deserving of high honor, cut short by a barrage of shelling that also killed American correspondent Marie Colvin.

Rémi was often aware that he didn’t have a personal project in the works, Van Langendonck told TIME. Personal projects provide an outlet for photographers to explore their interests outside of commissioned editorial work, allowing for an inner-consistency even as a photographer’s surroundings are rapidly changing. So caught up in his work, Remi didn’t need it — “I’ve never had so many of my pictures published in my life,” he told Van Langendonck.

After paying the ultimate price for his work, Rémi’s personal project became clear. Although the future promise of the French photographer will never be fully realized, the publishing of Revolutions has brought a modicum of closure.

Revolutions is now available through Emphas.is. The book project, funded by contributors, raised $24,250 as of Sept. 4, exceeding its original fundraising target of $15,000 by almost 40%.

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Residents of the besieged neighborhood of Khadeiye run through the streets to avoid snipers.  Sheets are hung and moved as the snipers move to try and block their view .
One of the members of the Free Army of Syria, and formerly a soldier in the Syrian Army, looks around a corner after hearing shots fired nearby in Khadeiya.  The collection of volunteers guard their neighborhood from inside houses as the Syrian Army fires at them from across the streets and high locations.
A well known wedding singer, whispers the words of a revolutionary song into the ears of children so they can sing them.
Water, and electricity have been cut since Khadeiya was taken by the opposition.  Now electricity is snuck in on clandestine power lines and water is distributed from old wells.
A member of the Free Syrian Army approaches the border of Khadeiya where the Syrian Army is firing on them.  Scattered machine gun fire can be heard coming from both sides but the real fear comes with the sound of artillery and RPGs.
Families have made a refugee camp out of an orphanage in Homs.  The only requirement is that a member of the family must have died or be in jail.  This room houses three families from beside Baba Amr, Homs.  After the fled the violence their houses were completely ransacked, allegedly by pro-government thugs.
In a house on the border of Baba Amr, Homs bullet holes riddle the walls and furniture.  Blocks of the city were abandoned and most shops were closed.
A small party is held in the center of Khadeiya where men and their children  come mainly to sing anti-government songs and dance.
One of the soldiers of the Syrian Free Army is brought into a makeshift hospital after he was hurt in an explosion.  The small clinic is the only one left after 3 other hospitals and clinics were shelled.
One of the officers of the Free Syrian Army sits with his family in their home in Khadeiya.  He is unusual for keeping his family in the middle of the bullet riddled neighborhood.  But he is too well know as a member of the opposition and as he says
Many of the remaining people and cars of Kahdeiya have been shot multiple times.    This soldier showed me 3 bullet holes.  One doctor showed me the 9 times he has been wounded while retrieving patients in their makeshift ambulance.
The main square of Khadeiya is pitted with holes from mortars and explosives.  At one time this square was used for organizing anti-government protests where many were originally killed.
A small party is held in the center of Khadeiya where men and their children  come mainly to sing anti-government songs and dance.
One of the residents of Khadeiya, Homs was shot in the legs by a sniper after leaving the evening protest.   After being patched up in the clinic he returned to the protest to tell his friends he is ok.
Damascus, Syria

Draft.

This report does not give an accurate description of all Syria’s current complexity. It is a look at one opposition neighborhood for one day.

After a year of intense fighting and low level suppression many parts of Khaldeya have bullet holes, the cars, the walls, the water tanks, the people. This suburb of Homs has been emptied of families and filled with bullet holes. The doctor that runs out to pick up wounded has 9 bullet holes. Sheets are hung in the street to block the view of snipers are like swiss cheese.

I was given one of the rare 7 day visas to enter Syria as a journalist. I wasn’t the best journalist to be sent, my expertise is Egypt, my Arabic language is Egyptian. But thanks to a good fixer and some digging we were able to travel around Homs relatively freely.

Getting into Khaldeya required a local guide and some quick driving down a road with a history of snipers. The bullet holes in other cars confirmed that sometimes they were shot. While in the neighborhood shots ring out at irregular intervals

The rebels are very aware of the Syrian government’s storyline that they are gangs of terrorists and were more than willing to show us around. Often when I start talking with a soldier he will pull out his army ID and go into the story of how he escaped.

Most of the soldiers claim that their weapons came from defecting soldiers, though they have had to buy ammunition from anywhere they can.

There was one former Syrian Army officer who told of how his brother was walking home from the first protest in Khaldeya when a sniper shot him through the stomach. At that moment he decided to defect and join the rebels. Now he is too well known so he stays with his family, unwilling to send them away. “I would rather have them die here with me than away from me” he says.

To defend their neighborhood the volunteers have smashed holes through the walls of the homes. A maze of paths are opened and closed as they move around the inside. As I move with them they aren’t so afraid of bullets as of the RPGs.

In one of the few houses with electricty a few volunteers write songs for the evening’s protest. It’s an almost daily event of a few men and children gathering in a central location. A couple of famous wedding singers lead the festivities.

One of the residents left the party early, half an hour later he was driven back in an ambulance, with fresh bandages. A sniper had shot him through the legs on his way home.

The rebellion in Syria is one of the most complex of the revolutions of the Arab spring. It isn’t a peacefull protest in a square, or violent fight from east to west, or easily described along majority, minority sectarian lines. It has many fronts, many divided families, is partially peaceful, partially violent, and has no clear majority of people or power. It also has many neighbors that want to influence the outcome.

This complexity is undercovered partially because there were relatively few foreign journalists based in Syria to start with and now it is excedingly hard for journalists to get in for long term coverage.

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Syrians by the thousands are fleeing the violence in their home country and seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Turkey this week is said to be considering a buffer zone in Syria to secure its own national security as well as aid fleeing civilians. Turkey is already sheltering some 17,000 of those who have fled. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday that nearly 10,000 people have been killed in the yearlong conflict in Syria. A cease-fire agreement accepted by Syria Tuesday that was drawn up by United Nations envoy Kofi Annan was met with skepticism, and fighting continued between rebels and President Bashar Assad’s soldiers. -- Lloyd Young (32 photos total)
Syrian refugees are seen through a barbed wire as they arrive at border between Syria and Turkey, near Reyhanli, Hatay province, on March 27. Syrian President Bashar Assad's crackdown on dissent, which monitors say has seen more than 9,100 people killed since March 2011, triggered an influx of refugees on the Turkish border as officials say the current number exceeds 17,000. (Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images)

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