Bassam Khabieh, a Syrian photojournalist, has been named the 2018 Oak Human Rights Fellow at Colby. Khabieh’s beautiful but searing work bridges Oak’s 2017 theme, “Film, Photography, and Human Rights,” and its 2018 theme, “War and Human Rights”.
“We are thrilled to have this chance to work with and learn from Bassam,” said Walter Hatch, director of the Oak Institute for Human Rights. “He exhibits an unrivaled strength of character, a willingness to risk everything to bring truth to the world and document the reality of what is happening in Syria.”
Khabieh, a freelance photographer, has powerfully documented war crimes and other ongoing human rights violations in the Syrian conflict, with images featured by organizations such as UNICEF, the World Health Organization, Reuters, and The Atlantic. His stunning photographs, “one of the largest bodies of work on the Syrian conflict, bring this unspeakable war out of the shadows,” according to a board member for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
In 2015 Khabieh was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal for “photographic reporting from abroad requiring exceptional courage and enterprise.” His images were included in a group exhibition, Children of Syria, that toured various locations, including Capitol Hill, USAID, and the United States Institute of Peace, and will be featured in a book being edited by ART WORKS Projects founder Leslie Thomas and Amy Yenkin, founder of the Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project.
Khabieh’s impressive achievements are even more remarkable in light of the fact that he is entirely self-taught. Khabieh has survived chemical attacks, airstrikes, car explosions, and cluster bombs. He has been injured numerous times and even lost his eyesight for a period of time. At the outbreak of the conflict, he was a student of information technology who chose to use his cell phone to take pictures while training himself on more sophisticated equipment to “ensure that the horrific human rights abuses that have been perpetrated would not be without witness.”