From June to October 2017, the United States led a military campaign to oust Islamic State from its capital Raqqa. It turned out to be one of the most destroying offensives in modern warfare. The attacks killed and injured thousands of residents and reduced their homes, businesses and infrastructure to rubble.
Civilians, trapped by the fighting, were caught in the crossfire and prevented from fleeing by IS snipers and mines. Many were killed in their homes by the coalition’s air bombardments and indiscriminate artillery strikes.
The coalition commander claimed that the offensive on Raqqa had been “the most precise air campaign in history”, but as evidenced in this exhibition by Amnesty International, such rhetoric was a far cry from the reality on the ground.
This exhibition tells the stories of families who lived in Raqqa during the war. Photographs, videos and 360-degree immersive experiences documented in Raqqa, combined with satellite imagery and maps, allow viewers get to know these families. Throughout the exhibition, travel through the city to meet survivors, hear their stories and explore the ruins of their homes.
Amnesty International have been investigating the Raqqa military campaign for over eighteen months. Researcher Donatella Rovera and her team made multiple visits to the destroyed city between February 2018 and February 2019. They surveyed more than 200 strike sites and interviewed more than 400 witnesses and survivors. The researchers also analyzed open source material including thousands of social media posts. Volunteers helped out by analyzing satellite images to establish when which of the 11.000 destroyed buildings was hit.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.