Museum to display images of Syrian killings

2014-10-15 21:10
(Aris Messinis, AFP)

(Aris Messinis, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Images of emaciated and mangled bodies from recent history in Syria are going on public display for the first time on Wednesday at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, documenting the work of a former Syrian military photographer who defected and has testified in Congress about witnessing mass killings.

The small exhibit, entitled "Genocide: The Threat Continues", features a dozen images from an archive of 55 000 pictures smuggled out of Syria. The photographer, codenamed "Caesar", testified in July that he witnessed a "genocidal massacre" and photographed more than 10 000 bodies as part of his job. He warned a similar fate could befall 150 000 more people who remain incarcerated by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

Some images at the museum show dozens of bodies piled atop one another. Others show the effects of depravation and torture, including electrocution, gouged out eyes and removed genitals, said Cameron Hudson, the director of the museum's Center for the Prevention of Genocide. They're powerful images, and viewers are immediately reminded of the Holocaust, he said.

"They show a side of the Syrian regime that hasn't really been really seen. You might have heard about it, read about it, but when you're confronted with these images, they're impossible to ignore," Hudson said.

The museum relied on forensic examinations of the photographs conducted by the FBI and by former prosecutors and forensic experts of the International Criminal Court to verify the authenticity of the images. The US State Department has cited the FBI's examination as well, though the results have not been publicly released.

Syrian opposition groups hope to use the images to prosecute Assad's regime for war crimes.

The photos were shown to the UN Security Council in April. At the time, US Ambassador Samantha Power said the images "indicate that the Assad regime has carried out systematic, widespread and industrial killing".

Syria's Justice Ministry dismissed the images as "lacking objectiveness and professionalism".

At the museum, the images of Syrian corpses from detention centres share striking similarities with those of concentration camps during the Holocaust, Hudson said, showing evidence of starvation and emaciated bodies. They are the result of long-term detention, not battlefield deaths, he said.

"You don't wither away and die like that on a battlefield" Hudson said. "You don't get that in a matter of days or weeks. It's months and months of deprivation that causes the human body to wither away like that."

It's important to remember genocide didn't end with the Holocaust and is a real threat in Syria, he said.

The museum decided to exhibit the images because its scholars have long studied how witnesses who escaped Nazi Germany and reported atrocities to President Franklin D Roosevelt and other officials in Washington, only to be ignored.

"We realised that this person, Caesar, the Syrian who escaped, he was a witness," Hudson said. "We felt an obligation to tell his story as someone who showed real courage in coming forward and escaping and trying to tell the story of what he saw."

Read more on:    us  |  syria

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.