The horrifying images of the helpless and innocent boy have touched the hearts of westerners and have acted as an urgent catalyst that more must be done by the international community to help those fleeing war in Syria.
However, the online image sharing community Imgur has suggested that photo journalists from the Anadolu Agency, a state-run Turkish press agency, moved the dead body of the child to a better location to deliberately create a more poignant photo opportunity (1).
The Anadolu Agency (AA) was founded in 1920 by scholars wanting to escape Turkish occupation. Aiming to repel much of the Turkish and some foreign media’s submissive attitude, the AA is committed to informing the Turkish people of news from around the world.
Facts about the Photo
The photos of a boy, who has been identified by Turkey’s private Dogan news agency as three-year-old Aylan, are not the only images of refugee children the AA news agency has published.
On Getty Images you can view images taken by Anadolu Agency journalists of refugee children in temporary shelters in Jalalabad (2).
One touching photo is of an Afghan refugee girl, innocently smiling amongst the dirt and rubble in a temporary shelter in Jalalabad on March 2015.
The site shows a series of moving images taken by AA of children who have recently returned from the refugee camps in Pakistan and it could be argued are being used by the state-run Turkish agency as propaganda.
Not the First Time This Has Happened
This is not the first time Turkish journalists have been accused of propaganda in their photos.
Last month, reports emerged that Turkish prosecutors are calling for prison sentences for 18 journalists accused of “engaging in propaganda of a terror group” (3).
The incident refers to photos that were published of a gunman pointing a gun at Mehmet Selim Kiraz, an abducted prosecutor. Kiraz was killed in a failed hostage rescue mission.
At the time the photos of the gunmen pointing the gun at the prosecutor were published, Turkey blocked access to YouTube and Twitter over the images.
Somewhat ironically, it was the state-run Anadolu Agency that first reported about the indictment prepared by the chief prosecutor’s office in Istanbul demanding prison terms for the editors of nine newspapers accused of “engaging in propaganda of a terror group.”
Perhaps by reporting about the editors of nine newspapers and 18 journalists accused of engaging in propaganda of a terror group, the Anadolu Agency is deliberately attempting to divert attention from its own propaganda.
What is more definite is that if the claims made on Imgur that the Anadolu Agency photo journalists deliberately moved the dead body of the Syrian child’s lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach are true, it reveals the tragic reality that some “activist journalists” will do anything to gain support for their cause.