This week US Marines censored an award winning photojournalist – continuing the efforts to make certain we do not see the real results of our actions in Iraq. Zoriah was embedded with a Marine unit documenting the reasons so many soldiers are suffering from PTSD. He was only a block away when another Marine unit was caught up in a suicide bombing in Anbar province:
My hands still shake and my heart pounds despite my fatigue. A combination of depression, fear, and adrenaline makes my thoughts race with the realization that a simple decision was the only thing that seperated me from a body count that grows daily. I look at the images I took on the 26th of June, and realize they do nothing to capture the emotion of being an eyewitness to the aftermath of the Al-Qaeda suicide attack in Karmah/Garma... the smell... the sound of screams and crying.
Zoriah and his unit arrived on the scene shortly after the bombing and he witnessed and photographed the aftermath – including the corpses of 3 US Marines. His photos met all standards set by the agreement embeds sign with the military but he was told to remove the images from his blog. He refused – and he is now being sent out of Iraq.
I truly labored with the decision to post these images and I still do. But in my heart of hearts I know that people need to see and feel the reality of this horrible situation. How can things change if all that comes out of Iraq are sanitized, white-washed images of war designed for mainstream media outlets who focus on making money, not on the quality and truth in what they report?
To the families of the Marines, the interpreters, the Iraqi police, and the civilians killed in the attack: you have my deepest condolences. These men were attending a city council meeting and working together to better their community. Something terrible happened to them when they were in the midst of doing a good thing.
Zoriah’s photographs are graphic – but this is the reality we have created with our war and occupation of the people of Iraq. If we do not see even this small glimpse of the reality of Iraq, how can we, as citizens, understand the actions our government is taking in our names? As he wrote immediately after the bombing:
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I want you to observe and comprehend what others live through on a daily basis -- to see what the Iraqi civilians and foreign soldiers see. I want people who follow my photography to understand that although I am able to bring images of war to the world in a form of art, what actually goes on here is horror. My message is not that war yields great photography. My message is: War yields human misery and suffering.
Photo credit © Zoriah/www.zoriah.com : blog use permitted