Unhealed Wounds: The Personal Cost of the Right to Protest

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Faces collage Mayer
Credit: Unhealed Wounds
Tali Mayer
Tali Mayer

“Unhealed Wounds” is an international photography/multimedia project that presents people who were injured by policing forces using crowd-control weapons (dubbed “nonlethal” or “less lethal” weapons”). The 11 individuals included in the project were injured during protests in a range of countries, some as participants and others as journalists or bystanders.

Alongside the photographs are video and audio recordings in which the participants tell their stories The images were commissioned from local photographers and artists from Argentina, Colombia, East Jerusalem ,Egypt, Hungary, India, Israel, Kenya, Russia, South Africa and the United States. With the exception of the Russian and Egyptian cases, all videos were taken at the location where the incidents happened.

Crowd-control weapons are dangerous weapons that were originally designed to maintain public order. In the context of protests their use escalates tensions, creates panic and causes long-lasting psychological traumas, serious injuries, disabilities and even deaths.

In Israel stun grenades, tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets, water cannons and “skunk bombs” that sprays a foul-smelling liquid were used. Although police protocol prohibit the firing of sponge bullets at the upper body, in practice head injuries are common. In the territories Israel also uses rubber bullets and even live fire aimed at demonstrators.

The project was produced by the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations, to which the Association for Civil Rights in Israel belongs. In 2014, photographer Tali Mayer, who works for Haaretz, initiated and produced the project together with ACRI.

On Thursday, August 22, at 7 P.M. the project will be on display in Habima Square in Tel Aviv, as part of a protest against police violence and illegal use of crowd-control weapons.

Credit: azmìn Tesone and Maria Cerutti

Daniel Sandoval, 36, a teacher from Argentina

Daniel was protesting in Buenos Aires against pension reform on December 18, 2017 when he was shot multiple times in the face and upper body with rubber bullets. He lost vision in his right eye.

Credit: Brian Otieno

Caroline Nerima Mkudo, 38, unemployed, from Kenya

Caroline was on her way to a pharmacy near her home in Nairobi when a police officer shot her in the head with a rubber bullet. The incident took place on October 26, 2016, the day of a rerun presidential election, during clashes between protesters and police in her neighborhood, Kibera.

Credit: Daylin Paul

Father Graham Pugin, 61, a Catholic priest from South Africa

Father Pugin was hit in the face by rubber bullets when trying to defend the entrance to his Holy Trinity church in Johannesburg on October 12, 2016. The incident happened during clashes between police and students protesting against university fees. Protesters sought refuge in the church, and he stood at the entrance to allow them in.

Credit: Whitney Curtis

Maleeha Ahmad, 29, an employee at a nonprofit organization from Missouri

Maleeha was pepper-sprayed in the face by police during a #BlackLivesMatter protest on September 15, 2017 in St. Louis. People took to the streets after Jason Stockley, a police officer who shot to death Anthony Lamar Smith, was acquitted.

Credit: Tali Mayer

Haim Schwarczenberg, 44, a photographer from Israel

Haim was hit by a stun grenade that exploded directly on his abdomen on May 3, 2015, while photographing a protest in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square against racism and police brutality towards the Ethiopian community in Israel.

Credit: Tali Mayer

Tayseer Sanduqa, 35, unemployed from East Jerusalem

Tayseer has been blind in his right eye since childhood. On July 4, 2014 he was on his way home when he got accidentally caught up in clashes between residents and the police in the Shoafat neighborhood near the funeral of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teen who was murdered by Jewish extremists in revenge for the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.

Credit: Andrés Torres

Luis Acosta, 33, an indigenous leader from Colombia

Luis was injured in his stomach on September 19, 2017, when riot police fired a tear gas grenade at him during the indigenous resistance in Finca La Emperatriz Cauca against land expropriations.

Credit: Faisal Khan

Farzan Nazir Sheikh, 17, a high school student from Kashmir

Farzan was injured on two occasions in 2017 by lead pellets often used by the Indian police in the disputed territory. The first time, in March, he was injured in the neck, chest, abdomen and left eye when police fired into the crowd during a funeral of a friend who had been killed by the police. Later that year, Farzan was once again hit by pellets fired randomly by paramilitary forces patrolling his neighborhood. This latest attack caused severe injuries to his head, including the loss of vision in his right eye.

Credit: Andras Fekete

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 28, an activist artist from Russia

Nadezhda is a members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot. On February 10, 2014, during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, members of the group were set upon by uniformed Cossacks as they attempted to perform a protest song under a sign advertising the event. The Cossacks, who were acting as an informal police force during the games, attacked them without warning with whips and pepper spray.

Credit: Jonathan Rashad

Malek Mostafa, 37, activist and journalist from Egypt

Malek lost his right eye after he was shot by a rubber bullet during protests against the Mubarak government in Cairo’s Mohammad Mahmoud Street, near Tahrir Square, in November, 2011.

Credit: Balazs Turay

Nikoletta Henriett Antal, 27, an activist from Hungary

Nikoletta was injured by tear gas fired by policemen in April 2017, during a demonstration against the closure of Budapest’s Central European University.

From the Haaretz photography blog Exposure, curated by photography editor Daniel Tchetchik. Tchetchik has worked at Haaretz since 2003 as a photographer for Gallery and the weekend supplements. His work have been displayed in Israel’s leading museums and in a number of exhibitions and fairs abroad.