Friday, 10 November 2017

The Syrian photographer who showed the world a war

 'Karam al-Masri never planned on becoming a journalist. In 2011, Aleppo native was a second-year law student when protests began in Syria, following revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia. Using his cellphone, he captured photo and video of demonstrations against the Bashar al-Assad regime.

 In April 2011, the Syrian government arrested al-Masri for posts he made on Facebook. Detained for one month, he stayed in solitary confinement and underwent torture. “The regime wanted me to say I was working for foreign agents,” al-Masri explained.

 Then, in November 2013, members of the Islamic State kidnapped and incarcerated al-Masri simply because he was a photographer documenting what was happening in Aleppo, a major sin, according to ISIS. Again, he found himself in solitary confinement, surviving on a ration of half a slice of bread and three olives. When he was released six months later, not only did he find Aleppo leveled, but discovered his home had been hit by a barrel bomb, killing his mother. Weeks later, another bomb killed his aunt. Later, Syrian snipers shot him —twice— in the leg and hand.

 Yet al-Masri doggedly resumed taking photographs, even more determined to show the world the atrocities experienced by Aleppo, particularly as foreign media fled in the midst of ISIS kidnappings and growing violence.

 "At first, I started to take videos for my channel on YouTube. My videos were just of demonstrations, there was no fighting or anything like that. I wanted the world to see what was going on on the ground because there were no foreign journalists. The mainstream media would say, 'There’s nothing happening; Syria is fine; nobody is going to demonstrations.'

 The war became a real war, not demonstrations or a revolution. The regime started to shell people with barrel bombs and missiles. It became very difficult to cover. But I wanted my work to reach everywhere in the world. Without these pictures and videos, maybe the regime would kill everyone in the areas out of [al-Assad’s] control." '

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