photojournalism

'The Day The Towers Fell - my 9/11 journey' Jason Florio: September 11th, 2001-people escaping Lower Manhattan, among the debris from the fallen World Trade Center Towers, NYC. Black and white image ©Jason Florio

‘The Day The Towers Fell – my 9/11 journey’ Jason Florio

September 11th, 2001-the North Tower on fire after the first plane hits, World Trade Center Towers, NYC. Black and white image ©Jason Florio
WATCH:September 11th, 2001-the North Tower on fire after the first plane hits, World Trade Center, NYC. Black and white image ©Jason Florio

The Day The Towers Fell – my 9/11 journey In August 2001 I went to Afghanistan to photograph a war – all was quiet. But when I returned to my home in New York City, in early September, the war came to me. Full interview Photography Daily Show 

9/11 – more images

September 11th, 2001-A New York City cop stands with his head down, among the debris from the fallen World Trade Center Towers, NYC. Black and white image ©Jason Florio
September 11th, 2001-A New York City cop stands with his head down, among the debris from the fallen World Trade Center Towers, NYC. image ©Jason Florio

The Day The Towers Fell – my 9/11 journey

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An Afghan Diary

…To follow the full story on Afghanistan (from my previous trip in 2000) we knew we also need it to head to the north-east to meet the Taliban opposition, the Northern Alliance, who controlled that portion of the country. This we could not do until a year later in August 2001.

Our first attempt to cross the border from Pakistan to the Northern Alliance area disguised as women wearing full covering burqas failed. We then spent the next three weeks organizing a ride into the country via Tajikistan on a Russian helicopter operated by the Northern Alliance… Jason Florio read/see more

Current Location: September 2020 – Malta

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The portrait of Ahmed Shah Massoud - 'The Lion of Panjshir' - in his camp in the mountains was taken shortly before he was killed. Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan. black and white portrait © Jason Florio, September 2001

‘The Lion of Panjshir’ – Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud

19 years ago, September 2001, I was in Afghanistan with Pepe Escobar. On returning to my home in New York City I got the news on Sept 10th that Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud – ‘The Lion of the Panjshir’ (header image) – who we had recently been a guest of, had been assassinated by Al Qaeda operatives posing at journalists. The following day I was standing next to the Twin Towers, in Lower Manhattan as they collapsed…

Northern Alliance fighters arriving by helicopter in the early hours of the morning, in the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan. Image © Jason Florio, September 2001
Northern Alliance fighters arriving by helicopter, Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan. Image © Jason Florio, August/September 2001

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Young Taliban fighters, Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Image ©Jason Florio, August/September 2001

An Afghan Diary

My journey to the Taliban-controlled region of Afghanistan in August 2000 was in fact not planned. I was on my way to Kashmir to follow the ‘jihad trail’ when I got a call to join my colleague and writer Pepe Escobar, who was working on jihad stories on the Pakistan-Afghan border – he said: “This is (Afghanistan) where it’s really happening…”.

Crossing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border by foot at the Khyber pass we spent two weeks driving through the heart of Taliban-Afghanistan to try and get a clear understanding of who the Taliban were and how they held such sway over the populace. We felt we had dropped through a tear in the space-time fabric to the surreal land of corrupted ancient ideologies spouted from the mouths kohl-eyed men driving brand-new Toyota 4×4’s, where photography was outlawed – and because of which, we were arrested on two occasions… Jason Florio – read / see more images floriophoto.com

Current Location: September 2020 – Malta

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Gambia – justice is needed for 2005 massacre of migrants

Watch – ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’ Director of Photography, Jason Florio

Gambia – justice for 2005 massacre: July 22nd, 2020 – Today marks 15 years since Gambian security forces, on the orders of then-President Yahya Jammeh, killed over 50 West African migrants.

In July 2005, 56 West African migrants, including 44 Ghanaians were murdered in The Gambia en route to Europe. The unarmed migrants were killed by the ‘Junglers’, a death squad reporting directly to Yahya Jammeh, Gambia’s dictator at the time. Evidence has since emerged that Yahya Jammeh gave the orders to kill them. The families of the victims are still seeking justice. At the time of release of this documentary, Yahya Jammeh is in exile in Equatorial Guinea – ANEKED – watch the documentary, ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’

Isaac Mensah, James Town beach, Accra, Ghana © Jason Florio. Isaac is the son of one of 44 murdered Ghanian migrants, by Gambian security forces, in The Gambia, in 2005.
Isaac Mensah, James Town beach, Accra, Ghana. The son of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians killed by Gambian security forces in July 2005 © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’

‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’

Martin Kyere, Ghana – the sole known survivor of the 2005 massacre by Gambian security forces . Image © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio

Ghanaian, Martin Kyere, is the sole known survivor of the 2005 massacre in The Gambia of the West African migrants.

“When one of the soldiers used his cutlass to cut off Adamo’s shoulder and the blood is flowing all over the place…I think we realized then, that the soldiers wanted to kill us all.”

After their capture, the migrants were badly beaten and then split into two groups and handed over to the Junglers, Jammeh’s hit squad. Over one week, the Junglers summarily executed the group. Martin managed to slip the rope from his wrist and escape into the bush, undercover of the night, minutes before the executions began of the group he was with. He spent 4 days walking in the Gambian bush avoiding coming into contact with anyone until he was able to cross the border to safety in southern Senegal. 

“I jumped From the pickup and into the forest. I heard the soldiers shouting at me, but I did not look back. I  ran harder…I tripped on something in the forest that brought me down and gunshots passed over me and around me. But, it was dark so I lay still and waited until it was safe to move again. I could hear behind me ‘Oh God save us, Oh God save us’, and gunshots”. Martin told us that he knew then that his friends were being killed. 

Martin is now part of a campaign to bring Jammeh2Justice, for himself and the families of all of those whose loved ones were executed in The Gambia and Senegal in July 2005.

Ghanaian Sarah Boadu, holds a portrait of her father, Richmond Boadu, who was one of the the migrants killed by Gambian security forces in July 2005. Image © Jason Florio
Ghanaian, Sarah Boadu, holds a portrait of her father, Richmond Boadu, who was one of the the migrants killed by Gambian security forces. Image © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

“A credible international investigation is needed if we’re ever going to get to the bottom of the 2005 massacre of West African migrants and create the conditions to bring those responsible to justice,” said Emeline Escafit, legal adviser at TRIAL International. “Until now, information has come out in dribs and drabs, year after year, from different sources.” Human Rights Watch

The family of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians migrants who were attempting to travel to Europe by sea in 2005, captured and massacred by Gambian security forces. Image ©Jason Florio/helen Jones-florio #Portraits4PositiveChange
The family of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians migrants who were attempting to travel to Europe by sea in 2005. They were apprehended by Gambian security forces then massacred by members of President Jammeh’s hit squad, ‘The Junglers’ on his orders. “We will not rest until we have my father’s body to bury and Jammeh is brought to justice.” Image ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

Current Location: July 2020 – Malta

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The Gambia – finding truth and reconciliation

TRRC billboard, depicting portraits from ‘Gambia – victims. and resisters’ Image ©Jason Florio, The Gambia, West Africa

The tiny West African republic, The Gambia, is a popular winter-sun holiday destination for Europeans. However, most tourists have little idea of the dark and shattered underbelly of ‘The Smiling Coast of Africa’, as the Gambia is fondly called. From 1994 -2017 President Yahya Jammeh ruled the Gambia as his fiefdom, crushing dissent, and opposition with brutality. His personal hit squad and National Intelligence Agency carried out tortures, assassinations, and acts of sexual violence with impunity – journalists were gunned down and disappeared, students shot in cold blood, and even his cousins were murdered on his order. 

A Gambian man wears a t-shirt of murdered newspaper editor and journalist, Deyda Hydara (June 9, 1946 – December 16, 2004). Hydara was assassinated by Gambian security forces on the orders of President Yahya Jammeh. Image ©Jason Florio
A Gambian man wears a t-shirt of murdered newspaper editor and journalist, Deyda Hydara (June 9, 1946 – December 16, 2004). Image ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

In October 2018 the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) launched in The Gambia – a televised commission investigating the human rights violations under the 22-year dictatorial rule of President Yahya Jammeh. The TRRC, suspended over the past couple of months due to COVID19, resumed on Monday 8th June 2020, hearing testimonies from the victims and survivors of Jammeh’s rule, along with those of the alleged perpetrators. It is a long, and extremely painful process for many, to finally have their voices heard, but also to see and hear the voices of those who are implicated in meting out shocking tortures, killings, and human rights abuses, and about what happened to their loved ones. 

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’

#Portraits4PostiveChange

For over three years, we have been collaborating closely with the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations, and the TRRC; and have created permanent and mobile exhibitions of the portraits and testimonies. The exhibitions have now become part of Victims Centre and TRRC outreach work around the country, to bring the stories of victims to the people, to create dialogue and discussion around human rights and justice in this fledgling democracy – in hopes of opening eyes and winning hearts and minds. And, we will continue making the portraits and filming testimonies once flights to Gambia resume after the lockdown.

Portrait of Amie Lowe - daughter of Ebou Lowe, a soldier executed on Yahya Jammeh's orders after being accused of a coup attempt, The Gambia, West Africa. Image ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
Amie Lowe – daughter of Ebou Lowe, a soldier executed on Jammeh’s orders after being accused of a coup attempt. Image ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
Portrait of Sankung Balajo - victims of President Yahya Jammeh's witch hunts, The Gambia, in 2009 © Jason Florio
Sankung Balajo – victim of President Yahya Jammeh’s ‘witch hunts’, The Gambia © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

The Gambia – finding truth and reconciliation

Amie Bayo - portrait, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 'Gambia - Victims and Resisters of a Regime',
Amie Bayo – Arrested after a peaceful protest, held for 11 days without due process, during which time she was beaten by security forces. © Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
'Victims of Jammeh' The Gambia, West Africa - portraits by Jason Florio
Portraits from ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’ The Gambia, West Africa. Images ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio
Photography exhibition opening night at the National Centre for Arts and Culture, Banjul. Portraits ©Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio Gambia-victims, and resisters, Portraits to Remember
Opening night of ‘Portraits to Remember’ exhibition at the National Centre for Arts & Culture, Banjul, The Gambia, in collaboration with ANEKED & Sites of Conscience. Portraits on display ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio. Exhibition Image ©Jason Florio

Current Location: June 2020 – easing lockdown in the UK

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