Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Journalists consider coverage of most vulnerable refugees

(ISTANBUL, TURKEY)—The plight of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Turkey was presented during the last half of the Istanbul Peace Journalism Summit at the University of Istanbul.

Kemal Tarlan-Syria in Transit
Activist (don’t call him a journalist) Kemal Tarlan discussed his photography project aimed at depicting Roma in the region. In one of his photo essays, he shot objects (shoes, a toothbrush, etc.) that were dropped by those who were walking long distances to safety. These photos were moving, especially given that they were inanimate objects. Other photos showed the drama and drudgery of these refugees’ daily lives. Kemal said that the Roma refugees are shunned by others in refugee camps. (For more of his exemplary work, see www.syriaintransit.com .)

Silent Cry-Akin Bodur
Another talented photographer, Akin Bodur, discussed peace journalism as well as his photojournalism book appropriately titled, “Silent Cry.” Akin, who works in the border region of Hatay, said that local media in that area do not practice peace journalism largely because of sectarian loyalties that are so strong that they are almost “forced to be on one side.” He said that peace journalism is especially important in the future because as refugee children get older “they can’t be ignored.”

These children, who make up a majority of refugees, were also the subject of a presentation by Ayberk Yurtsever, UNICEF communications adviser. He gave attendees an overview of the crisis (1.7 million registered refugees in Turkey alone, for example) and showed several excellent short films designed to put a human face on the crisis. Filmmaker Adnan Kilinc also presented his powerful film, “Children of War,” that focused on the impact of their status on the youngest children.
The seminar concluded with informative presentations by Dr. Metin Ersoy (Eastern Mediterranean University-North Cyprus) and  Gloria Laker (Peace Journalism Foundation-East Africa). Each discussed peace journalism in their home country. 

Also, Park University students Taylor Miller and Michael Dean listed the lessons they learned about peace journalism in their university course this year. The common element they touched upon was indeed the common theme of the summit: that journalists have a responsibility to report responsibly and ethically in a manner that could even save lives.

The summit was sponsored by the U.S. Consulate-Istanbul, the Center for Global Peace Journalism (Park University, USA), and the communications department at the University of Istanbul (Dr. Nilufer Pembecioglu).

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