Syrian regime-sponsored photo exhibit at UN draws outrage

Opposition group Syrian National Coalition says the exhibit seeks to whitewash the regime's war crimes.

Syrian regime-sponsored photo exhibit at UN draws outrage

World Bulletin/News Desk

A photo exhibition at UN headquarters sponsored by the Syrian regime has drawn outcry from a prominent opposition group that says the exhibit aims to "whitewash the regime's war crimes."

Organized by the UN mission of Syria, "My Homeland" displays the works of Armenian-Syrian photographer Hagop Vanesian and will run until Jan. 16.

"The UN cannot in good conscience host an exhibit that callously promotes a regime that is responsible for immense death and unprecedented destruction," the Syrian National Coalition said in a letter sent to UN Department of Management. 

"By doing so, the UN condones the atrocities committed by Syrian forces, and serves as a mouthpiece for (Bashar) Assad’s heinous war crimes."

The group called the photographer a "propagandist" and urged the UN to "correct this grave mistake" by removing the exhibit.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, however, told reporters that UN missions alone are responsible of the content of any exhibit they sponsor.

He said slots for exhibits at the headquarters' non-public areas are given to member states on the basis of "first-come first-served" and that the UN does not exercise any editorial control over the content.

"Representatives of permanent missions are asked to use the utmost discretion to ensure that exhibits are in non-commercial nature and consistent with the principles and aims of the UN," Dujarric said.

Vanesian reportedly rejected the opposition's accusations and said his work is "humanitarian."

Captions of the photographs present a pro-regime point of view, with one that reads, "Both musician and fighter, defending his neighborhood from terror groups."

Syria has been gripped by almost constant fighting since the regime responded to anti-government protests in March 2011 with a violent crackdown that sparked a conflict that has spiraled into a civil war.

The conflict has claimed nearly 210,000 lives, according to the UN.

Findings by a fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons show that toxic chemicals violating the Chemical Weapons Convention have been "systematically and repeatedly" used as a weapon by the regime’s forces.

 

Last Mod: 13 Ocak 2015, 00:23
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