Portraits of the disappeared: Art as advocacy in Syria


Art is an effective means of advocacy for victims of mass suffering, such as those in Syria. This is why the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has used visual art to seek truth and justice for Syria’s disappeared and tortured.
Art plays a crucial role in supporting the goals of transitional justice in Syria, particularly truth-seeking, accountability, and reconciliation. Few justice mechanisms are as effective as art as a means of engaging with an entire community. Public art around the world memorializes Syrian victims and embeds their names in the public psyche, reminding society of the sacrifices made by these individuals for the sake of a better future. In this way, art protects the legacy of victims and resists historical revisionism that aims to erase certain narratives about the past. Importantly, art also provides closure for survivors and their families, while publicly shaming those complicit in atrocities.
Published on The Brookings Institution’s website
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