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Samer Muscati’s Images on Display During THE OVERWHELMING
During the run of The Overwhelming (March 8 to April 3, 2010), to encourage a connection to the Rwanda of today we displayed photographs by Samer Muscati from the book The Men Who Killed Me, by Anne-Marie de Brouwer and Sandra Chu.
Written 15 years after the Rwandan genocide, The Men Who Killed Me features testimonials from 17 survivors. Through their narratives and portraits, 16 women and one man bear witness to the crimes committed against hundreds of thousands of others. Proceeds from the book and licensing of the photographs go to Mukomeze, a charitable organization that improves the lives of girls and women who survived sexual violence in the Rwandan genocide. Samer’s photos are also currently on exhibit at the International Criminal Court in the Hague (until the end of April)!
Included in Samer’s body of work is the striking portrait of Marie Louise Niyobuhungiro (seen at right in a different photo) that we used with her permission as the central image of the show’s poster.
After years of working abroad in the United States, Timor-Leste, Iraq and Rwanda, Samer Muscati returned to Canada, where he continued his twin pursuits of human rights law and photography. His photography has appeared in a number of publications, including Time magazine. He currently works as the Iraq and UAE researcher for Human Rights Watch and is based in Toronto.
We asked him how he became involved with The Men Who Killed Me and the impact the project had on him personally, and here’s what he had to say.
“Originally I was in Rwanda as an advisor to the Ministry of Public Service doing development work. But it was fate that brought me to Kigali at the exact same time that Anne-Marie and Sandra were considering doing this book. I was at the right place at the right time so I joined them in The Men Who Killed Me project. Most of our work happened during the last trip we all took together (July 2008). This project has been the most rewarding experience of my life.
“The three of us have been very affected by it. I’ve worked in post-conflict countries before (Iraq, East Timor) but I had never heard such heart-breaking stories before Rwanda. After I came back from our last trip together (during which I took most of my photographs of the women and genocide sites), I had to put my beloved camera away for a few months because it reminded me of the horrible tragedies that were shared with us. After much reflection and contemplation, I’ve realized how much I’ve learned from the women we featured – they have such incredible strength, bravery and resilience, and I hope that comes across in our book.
“One of the co-editors actually went back to Rwanda a few months ago for the first time since our book was published. It was very heart-warming to see the women so happy when they got copies of the book and to see that their lives are slowly changing for the better.”
Read more about Anne-Marie de Brouwer’s return visit to Rwanda.
For more of Samer’s photography, you can also visit his flickr stream.