Syrian journalist Ameer al-Halbi, a refugee in France for three years, was injured in the face while covering the November 28 demonstration. Winner of several awards for his photos of the war in Aleppo, he is said to have been subjected to a police charge.
Ameer al-Halbi, a Syrian photographer and AFP collaborator who covered the March for Freedoms on November 28, 2020, was injured in the face, reported on Twitter the secretary general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Christophe Deloire. He shared the photo of the journalist, his face swollen and bloody, taken by AFP photographer Gabrielle Cézard who was at his side at Lariboisière hospital. The man was allegedly beaten with a baton during a police charge.
Christophe Deloire affirms that Ameer al-Halbi was “wounded in the face by a baton” while he was “identifiable as a journalist”. He expressed RSF’s solidarity, adding: “This police violence is unacceptable. Ameer came from Syria to France to take refuge there, as did several other Syrian journalists. The country of human rights does not have to threaten them, but to protect them. ”
AFP calls for the opening of a police investigation
Gabrielle Cézard, AFP photojournalist, recounted the moments leading up to the violence against the Syrian, with whom she was during the demonstration: “We were identifiable as photographers and all glued to a wall. We were shouting “Press! Press!” There were projectiles thrown from the side of the demonstrators. Then the police led a charge, baton in hand. “
Ameer was the only photographer who didn’t wear a helmet or armband
“Ameer was the only photographer who didn’t wear a helmet or armband. I lost sight of him, then found him surrounded by people, his face all bloodied and wrapped in bandages. He was psychologically very affected. He cried and said he didn’t understand why “it was wrong to take pictures”, “she continues.
Mediapart journalist Antton Rouget, for his part, affirmed on Twitter that he “followed this photographer after his injury, without knowing that it was Ameer al-Halbi, a reporter who fled the war in Syria”. He says that it was “taken care of by street medics who were blocked several times by CRS when taking him to hospital ”.
The next day, AFP called for the opening of a police investigation. “We ask the police to investigate this serious incident and ensure that all journalists are allowed to carry out their work without fear or restriction,” said Phil Chetwynd, chief information officer at the AFP. “We are shocked by the injuries inflicted on our colleague Ameer al-Halbi and we condemn this unprovoked violence,” he said.
Refugee in France since 2017
Phil Chetwynd recalled that on November 28, Ameer al-Halbi “exercised his legal right as a photojournalist covering the demonstrations in the streets of Paris” and that he “was with a group of colleagues clearly identified as journalists”.
The writing of Polka Magazine, who also collaborates with the Syrian journalist, expressed “his strong indignation following the police attack which [il] was victim […] The violent blow of the baton which wounded him in the face was deliberately aimed at a photojournalist who was freely exercising his profession, ”Alain Genestar, director of the publication, stressed in a statement.
Ameer al-Halbi left Aleppo, Syria, in December 2016. After passing through Turkey, he arrived in France in 2017. In his native country, he insisted at the age of 17 with a group of photographers for work with them, which he was refused since he was too young at the time. His insistence finally allowed him to obtain a camera, allowing him to accompany the White Helmets, a controversial organization posing as a humanitarian organization operating in Syria.
He was quickly contacted by the Palestinian news agency APA Images, then began to work with AFP and Nour Photos (an Italian agency). Once he arrived in France, he entered the Spéos photography school. It will then cover, in particular, demonstrations of yellow vests.
In December 2016, Polka awarded him the Photographer of the Year Award, symbolically awarded to all Syrian reporters. A few months later, he also received second prize in the Spot News category from World Press Photo.