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The drama is put on stage

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News agencies AFP and EPA send daily shocking photos from the besieged East Ghouta in Syria. How reliable are these images? And how independent are their local photographers?

Last week was a shocking picture of the world around. We saw two dead children, who are in pockets of the United Nations were stopped. These bags are typically used for relief. The photo comes …

Last week was a shocking picture of the world around. We saw two dead children, who are in pockets of the United Nations were stopped. These bags are typically used for relief. The image is from the Syrian Eastern Ghouta that was bombed by the government forces of president Assad.

The NRC published the photo in full confidence. But this photo was staged, so reporting the European news agency EPA and the U.s. transmitter CNN now. The children are actually killed in an airstrike, but then by local activists in the bags stopped, as the indictment of the UN, which, according to them, would have to intervene. A staged ‘press conference’.

EPA reported this in the caption, but the French news agency AFP, who NRC the picture took over, reported not. While still relevant, especially in the propaganda war that is raging around Syria. Shocking photos or videos, and the foreign interference and influence.

Ask for photos from Eastern Ghouta

When a city is at war, is under siege, dries typically the current photo’s soon. But out of the besieged Eastern Ghouta is a good flow of pictures within. The news agencies Reuters and AP send photos from any distance, giving you a lot of context see: you can draw from where it is, what the reliability is increased. EPA and AFP will send shocking photos of very close, of striking a lot of injured and dead children. On the photos is not to see where they were taken. That raises questions. How can it be that from an area that is bombarded, yet such good photos? Operate the photographers or independent enough of the rebels who control it?

Christian Chaise, chef Middle East and North Africa of AFP in Cyprus, if requested, that the news with the photo of the children in UN-bags has made an error: “The caption was incomplete and we could not make contact with the photographer. Because the authenticity of the photo, however, ensured it was – it was-that the children were victims of an airstrike – and the news value was great, we have him still published, with a general caption. Only later we understood that it was to be a demonstration went. That we have when still in the caption.” Chaise would like to point out that he has hundreds of photos to ingest.

When the photographer a clear opinion

One of the photographers, Amer Almohibany, a freelancer for AFP, post on Twitter strong opinions on the siege. He calls them ‘Russian terrorists’ that is equivalent to the IS-terrorism. About pro-Regime army he writes: ‘The army of the regime commits genocide.’ Not the language of an independent journalist who unbiased report. About the picture with the children in UN bags does Almohibany: ‘apologize to the UN for the use of their motto to teach our children to cover.’ The journalist uses ‘we’ and ‘our’ – he considers himself apparently as part of the civilian casualties.

About the comments on Twitter says Chaise (AFP) that this is not under his responsibility, as long as they are not in the caption of the picture read: ‘These photographers are freelancers, we can not stop them to give their views on Twitter and we are in no way responsible for it.’ Chaise points out that he also photographers in Damascus, which in regeringsgebieden work. ‘We let the both sides of the conflict.’

Amel Pain, chef Middle East for EPA in Lebanon, has an explanation for the many children’s photo’s. Her agency works with one photographer in the area, Mohammed Badra, and that was in a hospital where the adult injured and the doctors and nurses are not recognizable in the picture wanted. Pain: ‘The government considers that all the stragglers in the area as terrorists, so they are at risk.’ That the photos have little of the area showed, was, according to Pain also aware: ‘the hospital could not be identified, due to the risk of being bombed.” According to the Chaise of AFP may of the salafists who are the field hands, women not be photographed, so many photographs are impossible.

Local photographers are a necessity

That the news agency with a network of local, young reporters and journalists work, has a clear reason: for western journalists, and photographers, it’s become too dangerous to be in Syria to work. Pain (EPA), stresses the kidnappings of journalists in the war zone. The news agency built therefore a network of local regular forces. AFP works with several freelancers in Eastern Ghouta, among them the above-mentioned Eassa, and Hasan Mohammed, who is also pictures made of the children in the UN-bags.

Amel Pain, EPA says that her photographer Badra ‘one hundred percent’ confidence. Badra, who is also the children in the UN-bags photographed, since 2015 will be permanent employees of EPA. Photos he sends just the internet, because the connection is intact. Although Badra a report made of a training camp of the Jaish al-Islam, according to Pain is not connected to the salafi insurgents. According to her, has Badra never been part of one of the warring parties (‘He has never even demonstrated’), and he is against his sentence in his home town of Douma.

Pain of EPA says that they initially opposed the idea was to get local photographers to use, because of the risk of partiality, but that the system works so well in practice. According to her, you as a journalist in the Syrian civil war, and anyway, forced to be embedded to be – under the wings of one of the warring parties. Pain is that the photographer should always indicate under whose control he the pictures. Both Pain as Chaise is very happy with the local photographers because they know the area well, and because we otherwise have no clear picture of the war would have. Pain: “This is better than completely stay away.’

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