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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Positions and Practice – The Global Image

Such a heartbreaking image. Aylan Kurdi aged 3, drowned along with 11 others when the boat they were in capsized on the way to Kos. The image shows the Turkish police documenting and recording the tragedy. The boy was a refugee. Propaganda had us believe that refugees were terrorists to be feared and refused help. This photograph changed everything. The Syrian crisis finally had a human face and we began to think differently about the plight of the Syrians trying to escape war and conflict in their own country.

Europe faces a daily struggle with the number of desperate people trying to find a new home. Publishing this photograph can be seen as a form of propaganda in its own right. We now have more empathy towards the desperation of the refugees as a result of this and other similar images.

Debate has raged over whether we should publish such graphic and grim photos. In my opinion, we as photographers have a responsibility to raise awareness of the tragedies faced by others. The image achieves that and so should have been published. However, we must be mindful that we do not sensationalise the tragedy.


Figure 1: Reuters/Nilufer Demir/DHA. 2015           


Figure 1: Reuters/Nilufer Demir/DHA. 2015  From Nidhi Sinha. 2015. Alyan Kurdi’s death spurs outrage over refugee crisis – Livemint. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 September 2016].

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