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Should 'that photo' of the Syrian child be published? Turkish photojournalists react

This statement was originally published on on 3 September 2015.

The photo of a drowned Syrian refugee child on shore sparked a debate. Should it be published in the news or not?

Bianet asked the opinions of photojournalists Bülent Kılıç from AFP, Hüseyin Özdemir from Milliyet, Özcan Yurdalan from Nar Photos and freelance photojournalists Ahmet Şık and Cem Türkel.

They all say:

“The photo should be published. However, it should be published by questioning the reasons behind the photo instead of using a discourse that [agitates].”

Ahmet Şık:

“I would publish that photo because I see it as a part of the news. The war in Syria has been going on for 5 years and Turkey has a [hand] in it. We see thousands of these refugee children in the streets. People just shrug their shoulders while passing. The difference between a Syrian beggar child and 'that' child is [that] one of them doesn't breathe anymore. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, some European countries, the U.S.A and Justice and Development Party (AKP) are all responsible for that child's dead body."

Bülent Kılıç:

"That photo shocked everyone and had a great impact on Europe and the U.S.A. Some people are disturbed emotionally with that image. However, that photo might change the approach [towards] refugees."

Özcan Yurdalan:

"The violence, pain and the persecution shouldn't be hidden. I am sure of it, but how can you publish those images? You should pay attention to the situation and the persecution behind that image. Maybe, when you make the violence visible, the victims will have spoken their last words."

Hüseyin Özdemir:

"The things to be questioned are the responsible ones. That photo should be published without [causing] agitation. A photo must not make you cry. It must make you question, instead. There are thousands of photos of dead Syrian refugee children, but we aren't affected that much because it's happening in Syria. We aren't aware of it, but these people escape from our country."

Cem Türkel:

"The job of a photojournalist and a journalist is transferring both pain and pleasure. There is no problem [in] publishing that photo. We should question the responsible people behind it. A photo can be effective but it can't change things immediately. I mean, the war won't stop in Syria when you publish that photo but it might change the opinions against Syrian refugees. It would be a great effect. Some people satisfy themselves by sharing that photo with treacly and flamboyant writings. You can't prevent it and you can't blame people for doing it, also."


Click here to read the article in Turkish.

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