As the year 2019 is drawing to a close, I am reflecting on the ‘Hate Hurts’ project work and I would like to share my thoughts on what I have achieved and what my future goals are with all of you.
This has been an incredible year for the Hate Hurts project; reaching a wider and global audience. The Hate Hurts has been instrumental in many international campaigns on aiding the eradication of structural violence against refugees and asylum seekers in Europe. This is an achievement and I am very proud of this, although much more work needs to be done collectively.
My personal goal is to use the Hate Hurts as a lever for mobilizing European bodies to promote and implement legislation and practices aimed at improved security, safety and compassion. A further personal observation is that there is a greater need for an appropriate training and an improved system in the recruitment processes for anyone working on behalf of governmental bodies. Unfortunately, many of the bad practices including physical violence inflicted on refugees, are committed by people that wear such uniforms but have lack of education and scrutiny. But there are many factors that have a play in this which leads a much bigger discussion.
Let me share some of the key positive outcomes of the last year, which have seen powerful interventions in some of the countries where I never would have imagined the project would have been able to reach on account of the political anti-refugee climate.
Last March, I was invited to present the Hate Hurts project in Oslo at the Culture House, MelaHuset. It was a very positive experience as people strove to understand, and many admitted that they were hardly, if all aware of the extent of the violence towards refugees. I was very touched by an interview and article by Erik Faarlund Heroes still exist. Cinzia D’Ambrosi is one of them.
In the spring, I was invited by Amnesty International Hamburg and the social enterprise Bee4change to talk about the Hate Hurts project in Hamburg with two guest speakers Syrian journalist Ola Al-Jari and Annegrete Stoltenberg, Hamburg ombudsman in refugee work. Alongside the talk event, the team of Bee4Change organised a pop-up exhibition of the project which was very well attended and engaged.
Further, I was interviewed by ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles) Hate Hurts: Visualising Violence and Amnesty International UK has invited me to discuss the project in London.
However, the project really grew in its outreach through two major events: Der Spiegel published it as a main photo essay and Amnesty International Czech Republic took it on board for a major campaign to stop violence against refugees with a year touring exhibition in the country, which led me to be interviewed on the main Czech Republic TV news channel. The exhibition is currently in Brno.
As mentioned, there is still a lot to do and as a photojournalist, I am limited. In the last year, I have mostly reported on field from Hungary, Bosnia and more recently in France. Unfortunately, the situation for refugees is dire. Violence is not diminished, in fact it is systematic, mostly unreported and largely unpunished. But violence also extends to the limbo that many are left to live in for months, years. There is no future and not visible hope for thousands stranded in official or unofficial camps. For me, it feels like replaying a film of a situation that is getting worse but with the public engagement diminishing, saturated by the ‘over-news’ of the same thing. Violence!, ever present and reinforced by existing political climate, I am afraid it won’t be solved, unless there is a clear concerted effort, no strings attached.
Meanwhile in 2020, I am very pleased to announce that the Hate Hurts project will be shown by Amnesty International Munich with a major solo exhibition in Munich in April. The city of Munich is preparing for this event with a program that among other things, will include a series of workshops that I will be running with refugees and the public together.
My plans for the future are to continue the field work, create an online campaign to raise awareness and break through prejudice and misinformation, while slowly developing a photo book on the Hate Hurts. On a purely outreach level, I aim to develop a program of education for schools based on the Hate Hurts project to help prevent hate crimes. Also, more ambitiously, my plan is also to present the Hate Hurts to the European Parliament for this to engage, amend or improve the current legislation so that safety, security and training to eradicate violence and inbred racism can be a real outcome.
Photos and text: ©Cinzia D’Ambrosi