Brutal Images of Syrian Boy Drowned Off Turkey Must Be Seen, Activists Say – New York Times
By ROBERT MACKEY
At least 12 refugees fleeing the war in Syria, including two young boys, drowned on Wednesday while trying to reach the Greek island of Kos from the Turkish resort town of Bodrum, according to Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency.
A sense of weary resignation at the plight of the Syrians — and hundreds of thousands of other refugees and migrants taking desperate risks to reach the safety of Europe — was briefly punctured by horrifying images of one of the young victims, a small boy whose dead body was discovered, face down in the sand, by a Turkish police officer.
The boy, in a red shirt and blue shorts, was identified by Turkey’s private Dogan news agency as Aylan, 3. The body of his 5-year-old brother, Galip, washed up on another part of the beach.
Photographs and video of Aylan’s lifeless body quickly spread across social networks in Turkey and then the rest of the world, posted by outraged observers, rights activists and reporters who suggested that the rutal, distressing images needed to be seen and could act as a catalyst for the international community to finally halt the war in Syria.
Among those who shared the images and expressed their dismay were Liz Sly, a Washington Post correspondent covering the war in Syria; Nadim Houry and Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch; David Miliband, the president of the International Rescue Committee; and activists in the Syrian city of Raqqa and living under the rule of Islamic State militants.
On Twitter, the Turkish hashtag #KiyiyaVuranInsanlik, or Humanity Washed Up Ashore, accompanied many of the messages.
As the photographs appeared again and again in timelines on Facebook and Twitter, spurred in part by their publication on the websites of major European newspapers, a debate broke out about the ethics of sharing such graphic images of a dead child.
There were also disagreements inside newsrooms about whether to publish or even share the images. A number of reporters argued forcefully that it was necessary to confront the public with the human toll of the war in Syria, and the impact of policies that make it difficult for refugees to find asylum in Europe. But many editors were concerned about shocking their readers and wanted to avoid the appearance of trafficking in sensational images for profit.
To people saying I violated the dignity of …Read More