You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Reuters’ tag.

Kyodo/Reuters

From the New York Times:

The Japanese government opened up its execution chambers to the public for the first time on Friday, taking journalists on a tour of Tokyo’s main gallows. The insides were stark: a trapdoor, a Buddha statue and a ring for the noose.

[…]

“Apart from Japan and the United States, the other countries in the world that carry out capital punishment are those accused of other grave human rights violations,” said Kanae Doi, a lawyer who heads Human Rights Watch Japan. “Japan should be ashamed to be on that list.”

The US should be ashamed too.

Advertisements

The U.S. military freed Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed, a Reuters photographer, in Iraq on Wednesday, almost a year and a half after snatching him from his home in the middle of the night and placing him in military detention without charge.

PART TWO IN A SERIES OF POSTS DISCUSSING PHOTOGRAPHERS’ ACTIONS AND RESPONSES TO THE KILLING OF FABIENNE CHERISMA IN PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI ON THE 19TH JANUARY 2010.

Following up on last months post about Fabienne Cherisma’s murder, it is apt to note Natasha Elkington’s Reuters Photographers blog post.

Amidst a very serious opinion piece about the hardships of childhood in Haiti and Kenya, Elkington includes a comment from the photographer of the renowned image of Fabienne Cherisma.

I spoke to the Reuters photographer in Haiti, Carlos Garcia Rawlins, who took the pictures of Fabianne to find out who shot her and why. He had no answers. By the time he got there she was already dead. She could have been shot by the police or armed security guards hired to protect property, he said. Witnesses said they didn’t know if she was targeted or hit by a stray bullet when police fired into the air to disperse a hungry mob.

What Rawlins did say is that people around her continued looting and would only stop for a moment to look at her body. “I couldn’t believe the indifference of the people around her,” he said.

Which is a different response to that of Jan Grarup.

– – –

ALSO IN THE ‘PHOTOGRAPHING FABIENNE’ SERIES

Part One: Fabienne Cherisma (Initial inquiries, Jan Grarup, Olivier Laban Mattei)

Part Three: Furthermore on Fabienne Cherisma (Michael Mullady)
Part Four: Yet more on Fabienne Cherisma (Linsmier, Nathan Weber)
Part Five: Interview with Edward Linsmier
Part Six: Interview with Jan Grarup
Part Seven: Interview with Paul Hansen
Part Eight: Interview with Michael Winiarski
Part Nine: Interview with Nathan Weber
Part Ten: Interview with James Oatway
Part Eleven: Interview with Nick Kozak
Part Twelve: Two Months On (Winiarski/Hansen)
Reporter Rory Carroll Clarifies Some Details
Part Fourteen: Interview with Alon Skuy
Part Fifteen: Conclusions


© Andrew Jackson. Black Child, Gulugetu, Cape Town, 2006

© Andrew Jackson. Black Child, Gulugetu, Cape Town, 2006

I have no answers. I have just asked for them. We will get answers but they may be outnumbered by more questions.

I have no answers. And yet, two things struck me this week. They both go to the heart of the necessary cynicism AND optimism toward the photojournalist’s craft. These two contributions are contrary in tone and yet I can agree with them both.

I have no answers.

ANDREW JACKSON

Firstly, from Andrew Jackson and his ‘WrittenByLight‘ blog.

A 4OD episode of the Art Show entitled If asked a number of contemporary poets to produce modern (re)workings of Kipling’s famous poem If. Jackson was compelled to create his own and “perhaps speak of [his] own misgivings of documentary photography”.

If you can meet strangers and develop relationships with them
If you can enter into their lives and ensnare them with trust
Then solicit from them their lives and record this with your camera
And if you can make them believe this to be a collaborative process
Only to end this when your photographs are taken – never to see them again
And if you can raise a profile upon these images
Whilst talking sympathetically of the plight of those you have discarded
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it
And – which is more – you’ll be a documentary photographer, my son!

FINBARR O’REILLY

In answering such doubts, Finbarr O’Reilly on the Reuters blog gives an honest and balanced appraisal of the global coverage (and his part in it) of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Even as Democratic Republic of Congo’s war-related death toll rose above a staggering five million, making it the most lethal conflict since World War Two, the war in Central Africa remained largely unnoticed and under-reported.

and

The media could enjoy coffee and croissants for breakfast, drive up to the front-line fighting or the squalid camps home to hundreds of thousands of displaced Congolese, then return to file stories and pictures in time for dinner and a night at the bar.

and

There were so many photographers in Congo last year that there’s a running joke at photojournalism festivals and competitions this year about viewers and judges having to sit through “yet another picture story from Congo.”

and

But at least Congo, that beautiful, terrible place, became a highly visible story. It’s easy to be cynical about the idea of a devastating conflict suddenly becoming a trendy cause, but the important thing is that people are finally paying attention to one of the world’s worst catastrophes. U.S. President Barack Obama referred to Congo’s troubles in speeches, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton visited Goma in August and said she was moved by the plight of Congo’s women, many of whom are victims of extreme sexual violence and mass rape.

The temperance of O’Reilly’s opinion – in spite of his closeness to the events – is impressive.

Maybe the foil against the consumption of images of distant plight is to insist that the photographer’s voice and experience is always carried with them. Better still, the voice of those depicted is carried with the images. That way there can be no doubt of the actual conditions in which the images were created.

Finbarr O’Reilly has spent many years on stories in DRC, including eight specific photo series relating to aspects of Congolese experience.

© Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters

© Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters. From the series 'Congo Hair'

Two weeks ago I attended a talk by Van Jones, the founder of the Ella Baker Center. He advocates for social equality and the rights & opportunities of incarcerated youth. Recently, if he didn’t have enough on his plate, he has added saving the environment to his roster of causes. Jones’ energy is contagious and he quickly convinces you that there indeed is “one solution to our two major problems”.

Manufacturing Photovoltaic Cells (Reuters)

Jarnail Basraa lines up solar cells for a solar energy panel at Evergreen Solar's headquarters in Marlborough, Massachusetts. After decades on the fringe, solar power is closing in on America's mainstream as surging fossil fuel prices and mounting concern over climate change spur states, businesses and homeowners into a quickening embrace with alternative energy. (REUTERS)

Hold on! What? Two problems? Aren’t there more problems than that? Yes, and so Jones, like President Elect Obama, argues that all these can be traced back to economics and environment. Furthermore, Jones argues for a single root solution to these two issues that solves the many related problems. Jones envisages a government-supported, corporate-boosted, people-activated Green Economy that shifts investment from “a 20th century pollution-based & consumption-oriented economy” to “a 21st century clean, solution-oriented economy”. The magic being that the jobless urban poor with the worst cases of asthma, cancers and pollutant-based health problems are the ones to take full advantage of this new platform. Jones asks, “Do we really want to further entrench ourselves in “eco-apartheid” in which the affluent retreat to the hills and the remainder suffer the smog?”

Jones admitted he is not the most likely of authors for a book of this type, but following quick inspection, it (and he) makes sense. Jones seeks routes out of poverty for the urban poor and the formerly incarcerated. His native California is more desperate for solutions than most states.

Solar panels soak up some rays near the Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, Calif. Last week, the state unveiled a 1.18 megawatt solar-power plant at the prison that provides enough electricity to power a quarter of the facility's needs. (REUTERS)

Solar panels soak up some rays near the Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, Calif. Last week, the state unveiled a 1.18 megawatt solar-power plant at the prison that provides enough electricity to power a quarter of the facility

Jones is thinking big. The creation of jobs, personal prosperity and regional economic growth would need to be unprecedented if it were to mop up the wasted lives and wasted dollars of the California Youth Authority & the CDCR let alone the gross deficit of California’s halting economy (For your interest I read that over 20% of California households owe more on money toward their mortgage than their house is actually worth).

It seemed that I had, accidentally, skirted the same issues Jones works with. How do you give enough previously disenfranchised people enough work and pride to reverse social histories of crime and transgression? If the state intervenes, prematurely or not, where friends and family cannot succeed, it absolutely must begin when the offender is committed to an institution. And yet, as I noted in my previous post only 5,400 inmates are involved in PIA work. (This figure doesn’t factor for the number of inmates in retraining programs, which fluctuates. I’ll get back to you) The fact remains, the CDCR is overcrowded and not investing in rehabilitation adequately. All education and vocational training is fully subscribed.

Ironwood Solar Field

Ironwood Solar Field

The unremarkable photograph (above) of the first CDCR solar field at Ironwood State Prison, which I wrongly attributed to Wasco, and used as for closing cynical footnote about watercolour painting is perhaps worth revisiting.

The fields are in the middle of nowhere, because most newly constructed prisons are in the middle of nowhere. I wonder if there could be a conspiracy of persuasion to bring SunEdison or any of their partners and competitors to these remote locations with an inactive but very willing pool of men, set up factories and operations and train inmates during their sentences?

I would like to ask Van Jones if he considers the current CDCR and/or the developing green economy infrastructure flexible enough to execute a long term retraining programme within California’s prison system. How plausible is it that the new green economy can benefit the imprisoned population of America? I  believe Jones when he says we can reach out to the urban poor and provide training schemes. I believe Jones when he expects government support to launch thousands, even millions, of jobs and through doing so gives rise to a multitude of career paths that emerge, shape and change along with the renewable energy industry.

Ironwood Solar Field (REUTERS)

Ironwood Solar Field (REUTERS)

That said, I am skeptical that this herculean social project could dovetail easily with the federal and state prison systems of America. People are suspicious of corporations involved in state corrections; people may be shocked to inaction when learning of the massive investment and rarified leadership required for a large scale prison works programme; people know that historically the prison is hard to access; people may suspect no return on its tax dollars.

Logistically, anything is possible. But culturally many things are proscribed. The political will to enact a sweeping reform of prison training based upon a new-green-economy-doctrine may wither quickly when confronted with public opinion and economic depression. I fear prisoners will get ignored for another  generation and pushed oncemore to the bottom of the priority list.

EMAIL

prisonphotography [at] gmail [dot] com

@BROOKPETE ON TWITTER

Prison Photography Archives

Post Categories

Advertisements