The Destruction of Yazidi Heritage

The Destruction of Yazidi Heritage

Exhibited as ‘Maps of Defiance’, representing the UK at the London Design Biennale 2018

The Sinjar region of northern Iraq is one of two areas that comprise the heartland of the Yazidis, a religious and cultural minority that has long faced persecution in both Iraq and Syria.

In August 2014, the terrorist group known as ISIL invaded the region. Unprotected by the armies of Iraq or the nearby Kurdish autonomous region, Yazidi villages and towns across the region were captured and razed, and their inhabitants massacred. Thousands of Yazidi women and girls were trafficked into slavery. Religious buildings and sites of Yazidi cultural heritage were specifically sought out and destroyed.

ISIL was driven out of the region in late 2015. But today, many of the Yazidis that escaped still remain in refugee camps in Iraq or Syria, traumatised and reluctant to return.

Forensic Architecture (FA), in collaboration with Yazda, the international representative body for the Yazidi community, set out to train researchers in DIY surveying, mapping and documentation techniques, to support the investigation of the genocide perpetrated by ISIL.

We trained Yazda’s documentation team, based in Dohuk, Iraq, in techniques for evidence-gathering, and in ways of recording the material condition of the ruins of Yazidi buildings, as well as other sites that were part of the violence committed by ISIL against the Yazidi people. Training was conducted in Turkey, and followed by ongoing fieldwork in northern Iraq, and analysis both in Iraq and at our studio in London.

Further training, documentation, and analysis conducted in this way will create a rich media dataset of sites of violence against Yazidi people and culture, which will in the future be mobilised in support of Yazda’s advocacy efforts, as well as in legal proceedings against known members of ISIL.

The project became an exhibition, ‘Maps of Defiance’, curated by a team from the Victoria & Albert Museum and presented as the UK Pavilion at the London Design Biennale 2018.

Methodology

Four years after ISIL’s invasion of Sinjar, mass graves, kill sites, and destroyed Yazidi shrines across the region are still undocumented, their evidentiary value eroding and in danger of being lost. Many such sites are still surrounded by mines and boobytraps left by ISIL.

In order to produce a detailed ‘snapshot’ of their current condition, we developed ways to work accurately, discreetly and safely in difficult conditions.   

Building on the methodology developed in our study of Bedouin land dispossession in the Naqab, we documented the site through both ground-level and aerial photographs taken by both drones and DIY ‘community satellites’ made from kites. The thousands of images produced from each site are then processed into a 3D point-cloud through a process known as ‘structure from motion’ photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is a computational process by which distance and movement measurements are extracted from a comparison of several still photographs.

Through a process of triangulation, taking into consideration metadata including lens focal length, each photograph is positioned in 3D space, and pixels from the original images are each allocated a place in the 3D environment. The result is a dense ‘cloud’ made of hundreds of millions of discrete points, creating a 3D digital environment from 2D images of the physical space. This point-cloud is geolocated by recording the real-world GPS coordinates of certain points within the images and, therefore, the digital environment.

The DIY aerial photography methods we employed in this project were adopted from previous collaborations with PublicLab. Small point-and-shoot cameras, attached to single-line kites and protected within cases made of plastic bottles create ‘community satellites’ capable of conducting aerial photographic surveys.

While in the air, cameras are set to ‘continuous shooting’ mode, taking several images per second while facing directly down at the ground. We walked the area we wished to photograph from above, pulling the kite and camera with us. The result is an easy-to-use, cheap and reproducible method of aerial photography that can be transformed into a detailed and accurately located model.

Forensic Architecture Team

  • Eyal Weizman (Principal Investigator)
  • Ariel Caine (Project Coordinator)
  • Tané Kinch
  • Antoño González
  • Chloe Thorne
  • Lachie Kermode
  • Franc Camps-Febrer
  • Nicholas Masterton
  • Sarah Nankivell
  • Samaneh Moafi
  • Stefanos Levidis
  • Christina Varvia
  • Robert Trafford
  • Avi Mograbi
  • Anika Sierk
  • Idan Barir (Consultant)

Yazda Team

  • Jens Robert Janke (Documentation Manager)
  • Guley Bor (Project Coordinator)
  • Faris Mishko
  • Ronak Alyas
  • Farhan Dakheel Haje
  • Marwan Dawod Tamo
  • Zaid Salim Hassa

V&A Team

  • Natalie Kane
  • Brendan Cormier
  • Esme Hawes


The murder of Pavlos Fyssas

Shortly after midnight on 18 September 2013, Pavlos Fyssas, a young Greek anti-fascist rapper, was murdered in his home neighbourhood of Keratsini, Athens. Both the killer and others who participated in the attack were members of the neo-Nazi organisation Golden Dawn.

Golden Dawn have committed acts of violence against migrants and political opponents ever since their formation in the 1980s, yet most of their crimes going unpunished as a result of the silent support among the ranks of the Greek police, aligned to their nationalist cause. Following the murder of Fyssas, a Greek citizen, the national government was finally forced to make a series of arrests. Sixty-nine members of Golden Dawn, including all of their fifteen parliamentarians, were brought to trial. Charges in the trial, relating to events as far back as 2008, allege that even while holding seats in the national parliament, Golden Dawn operated as a criminal organisation. Even as the ongoing trial threatens the existence of Golden Dawn as a political party, the Greek courts remain reluctant to investigate the role of the police in covering up these crimes.

Forensic Architecture was commissioned by the Fyssas family and their legal representatives to reconstruct the events of the night from the audio and video material made available to the court. The resulting video investigation and accompanying report, presented to the Athens courtroom on 10 and 11 September 2018, brings together CCTV footage, recordings of communications between police and emergency services, and witness testimony. We established a precise timeline and reconstruction of the events that led to the murder.

The investigation established that members of Golden Dawn, including senior officials, acted in a co-ordinated manner in relation to the murder, and that members of Greece’s elite special forces police, known as DIAS, were present at the scene before, during and after the murder, and failed to intervene.


Methodology

Much of the original audio and video material was without an accurate timestamp, and it became apparent that attempts by the Greek police investigators to address this problem were insufficient. As a result, our researchers had to assess the material from scratch, and deduce the correct time and location of each piece of footage.

Audio recordings were assembled into a timed sequence through a process of sound analysis. CCTV footage from various locations around the scene was synchronised and given an accurate timestamp by reference to the sequence of audio recordings.

Forensic Architecture team

Christina Varvia (Project Lead)

Stefanos Levidis (Project Coordinator)

Simone Rowat (Video Research and Production)

Sofia Georgovassili

Fivos Avgerinos

Dorette Panagiotopoulou

Nicholas Masterton

Stefan Laxness

Robert Trafford

Sarah Nankivell

Lawrence Abu Hamdan (Sound analysis advisor)

Shakeeb Abu Hamdan (Sound analysis advisor)

Eyal Weizman (Advisor)

Collaborators

Co-produced by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht

Press

Οι κρίσιμες στιγμές τη νύχτα της δολοφονίας του Παύλου Φύσσα (The Critical Moments of the Night of the Murder of Pavlos Fyssas) | Kathimerini, 14 September 2018

Καρέ καρέ η δολοφονία Φύσσα (Frame by frame, the murder of Fyssas) | Efsyn.gr, 11 September 2018

Chemical weapons attacks in Douma, Syria

Chlorine gas attacks in Douma, Syria

Image and spatial analysis of claims surrounding alleged use of chemical weapons in April 2018

In collaboration with the New York Times

 

On 7 April 2018, the Syrian city of Douma was allegedly targeted by two chemical weapons attacks. At that time, the city and its surrounding areas had been under siege by the Syrian military since 2013. At least 70 people died in the attacks, according to reports.

Two distinctive yellow canisters, similar to those previously linked to chlorine gas attacks across Syria, were found following the strikes: one on a rooftop balcony near to Al Shuhada square, and the other in a bedroom at an unknown location in the city.

Days later, following the negotiated surrender of the remaining rebel forces in Douma, Russian media were the first to be allowed access to the attack sites. Reporters from RT and TV Zvezda quickly claimed that the attacks had been staged. Both claimed that the canisters found at each location had been carried into place by the rebels, rather than dropped from regime-controlled airspace above the city.

Commissioned by and working closely with the New York Times, Forensic Architecture searched for physical evidence concerning how the canisters had arrived at each scene. We reconstructed the two sites as 3D models using available images and video material. We also reconstructed the canisters as digital objects and analysed the physical traces inscribed on them.

Our analysis supports the assessment that the canisters were dropped from the air. At both sites, we identified a metal harness used to transport the canister, consistent with the aerial delivery of munitions documented elsewhere in Syria. Image and sound analysis revealed further evidence at each site.

In June 2018, the New York Times employed our analysis in a video investigation and an interactive ‘augmented reality’ feature.

Method

We used open-source software called Blender to build 3D models of the attack sites and the canisters themselves. The dimensions of each 3D model were established from satellite imagery and corroborated by architectural details in images captured at ground level.

In order to reconstruct the canisters’ exterior surfaces, we projected multiple images from different angles onto a cylindrical surface. In doing so, we took into account variations in the position and focal length of different cameras, and corroborated details on the canisters’ surfaces across multiple images.

Download the software here, and our models here: Site 1/Site 2/Canisters.

Forensic Architecture team

  • Eyal Weizman (principal investigator)
  • Nick Masterton  (project coordinator)
  • Bob Trafford
  • Grace Quah
  • Ariel Caine
  • Stefan Laxness


 

Standoff in El Junquito

Standoff in El Junquito

Were Óscar Pérez and his companions victims of extrajudicial killings?

15 January 2018

In collaboration with Bellingcat, Aliaume Leroy, and Giancarlo Fiorella


On Monday 15 January 2018, Venezuelan security forces raided a house on the outskirts of El Junquito, 20 kilometers west of Caracas. The target of what came to be known as “Operation Gideon” was Óscar Pérez, the leader of a small rebel group acting against the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

Nine people were killed, including Óscar Pérez and six other members of his group. All but one were found to have injuries consistent with being shot in the head. Two members of the Venezuelan armed forces were also killed — Nelson Antonio Chirinos La Cruz and Heiker Vasquez.

In order to understand the events that took place that day, Forensic Architecture and Bellingcat have collected, timed, and located nearly 70 pieces of related evidence. These include videos and photographs recorded by citizens, security forces, and by Óscar Pérez himself, as well as leaked audio of police radio communications and official statements. Each piece of evidence has been placed in an interactive, navigable, 3D model of the area for the benefit of the journalists, researchers, and the larger public who are interested in further exploring the case and assisting in filling in the gaps.

The attack on Óscar Pérez and his group can be divided into three distinct stages, which have been plotted within the platform: the negotiations; the fire fight and raid of the safe house; and the aftermath. In analysing all the material, we believe that Óscar Pérez and his group were killed during the raid between 11:15 am and 12:00 pm.

This account of the killing raises concerns about whether the actions taken by the security forces were legal and proportional. The Venezuelan security forces mobilised large numbers of personnel and multiple agencies in order to carry out the raid, using military grade hardware, which led to a chaotic operation with various forces accidentally targeting one another. It became known after the attack that Heiker Vasquez, one of the security personnel killed in the operation, was also a prominent leader of the ‘colectivo’ Tres Raices — one of many pro-government paramilitary groups that have arisen in Venezuela over the last few years. This raises questions regarding whether such paramilitary groups were also involved in the operation with the knowledge and approval of the security forces.

More material is required, particularly videos recorded between 11:15 am and 12:00 pm, in order to investigate this case further.

Contact

If you have any information that may help us paint a fuller picture of what happened to Óscar Pérez and his companions in El Junquito on 15 January 2018, please contact eljunquito@bellingcat.com or +447835333851 via WhatsApp or Signal.

If you are concerned about security or would like to remain anonymous, you can use one of the following two options:

  • Create an anonymous email account on the platform Tutanota (this is free and no contact details are needed), then use this email address to send an email to eljunquito@bellingcat.com
  • Send a message anonymously to +447835333851 preferably using Signal or WhatsApp, and we will arrange the best means to communicate while maintaining your security.


Forensic Architecture Team

Eyal Weizman

Stefan Laxness

Samaneh Moafi

Franc Camps-Febrer

Enrico Murtula

Clive Vella

Collaborators

Bellingcat

Aliaume Leroy

Giancarlo Fiorella

Sea Watch vs. Libyan Coast Guard

Mare Clausum

The Sea Watch vs Libyan Coast Guard Case

6 November 2017

Video reconstruction by Forensic Oceanography and Forensic Architecture
Report by Forensic Oceanography

On 6 November 2017, the rescue NGO Sea Watch (SW) and a patrol vessel of the Libyan Coast Guard (LYCG) simultaneously directed themselves towards a migrants’ boat in distress in international waters. The boat, which had departed from Tripoli a few hours earlier, carried between 130 and 150 passengers. A confrontational rescue operation ensued, and while SW was eventually able to rescue and bring to safety in Italy 59 passengers, at least 20 people died before or during these events, while 47 passengers were ultimately pulled back to Libya, where several faced grave human rights violations – including being detained, beaten, and sold to an other captor who tortured them to extract ransom from their families. The unfolding of this incident has been reconstructed in a video by Forensic Oceanography in collaboration with Forensic Architecture.

To reconstruct the circumstances of this particular incident, however, Forensic Oceanography has produced a detailed written report which argues it is also necessary to understand the policies that shaped the behaviour of the actors involved, and the patterns of practices of which this event was only a particular instantiation. Before arriving on the scene, the LYCG liaised with the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre of the Italian Coast Guard, which informed them of the presence of the boat in distress. The Ras Jadir, the very patrol vessel of the LYCG that engaged in reckless behaviour and thus contributed to the death of several passengers, was one of the four patrol boats that had been donated by Italy to the LYCG on the 15 May 2017, in presence of the Italian Minister of Interior. On board that vessel on the day of the events, 8 out of the 13 crew members had received training from the EU’s anti-smuggling operation, EUNAVFOR MED.

Based on these elements, the Mare Clausum report argues that this particular incident is paradigmatic of the new, drastic measures that have been implemented by Italy and the EU to stem migration across the central Mediterranean. This multilevel policy of containment operates according to a two-pronged strategy which aims, on the one hand, to delegitimise, criminalise and ultimately oust rescue NGOs from the central Mediterranean; on the other, to provide material, technical and political support to the LYCG so as to enable them to intercept and pull back migrants to Libya more effectively. This undeclared operation to seal off the central Mediterranean is what we refer to as Mare Clausum.

While in the report “Blaming the Rescuers”, released in June 2017, [1] Forensic Oceanography has analysed in detail the targeting of rescue NGOs, the Mare Clausum report focuses instead on the second aspect of this strategy. The report shows that through policy agreements and multiform support to the LYCG, Italy and the EU have come to exercise both strategic and operational control over the LYCG. In this way, the LYCG has been made to operate refoulement by proxy on behalf of Italy and the EU, in contravention to one of the cornerstones of international refugee law, the principle of non-refoulement[2]



[1] Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani, ‘Blaming the Rescuers’, June 2017, https://blamingtherescuers.org/
[2] According to Article 33(1) of the 1951 Refugee Convention (CSR51): “No contracting State shall expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

Forensic Oceanography Team

Charles Heller

Lorenzo Pezzani

Rossana Padeletti

Forensic Architecture Team

Stefan Laxness

Stefanos Levidis

Grace Quah

Nathan Su

Samaneh Moafi

Christina Varvia

Eyal Weizman

Collaborators

WatchTheMed Platform

Swiss National Science Foundation

Republic of Canton and Geneva

Footage by Sea Watch e.V.

The Grenfell Tower Fire

The Grenfell Tower Fire

A media archive and spatial database of the 14 June 2017 fire

 

The Grenfell Tower fire was unprecedented in London’s history, not least because the catastrophe was captured live by thousands of videos of the fire, taken by Londoners on their cameras and smartphones. Every one of those videos is a unique piece of evidence, containing unique information.

Forensic Architecture has started to collect these pieces of evidence and assemble them within a 3D model of Grenfell Tower. Our aim is to create a powerful and freely-available resource for members of the public to explore and better understand the events of the night of the fire.

These pieces of footage will become a continuous ‘3D video’ of the fire, mapped onto our architectural model of Grenfell Tower. The model will allow the user to investigate the fire, and will sit within a web platform which will ultimately act as a freely available public resource.

This is an open-ended project that we expect to continue for a year or more. It will continue to grow, as further information about the night of the fire enters the public domain.

To create this comprehensive record, we need to gather as much available video footage from the night of the fire as possible. Forensic Architecture invites members of the public to submit their video footage of the fire to us at www.grenfellmediaarchive.org.

Forensic Architecture team

  • Eyal Weizman (principal investigator)
  • Christina Varvia  (project coordinator)
  • Bob Trafford
  • Nick Masterton
  • Nathan Su
  • Franc Camps Febrer
  • Simone Rowat
  • Sarah Nankivell
  • Emma Charles
  • Nurri Kim


The Iuventa

The Iuventa

Counter-investigation of the events leading to the seizure of an NGO rescue vessel

18 June 2017

Investigation by Forensic Oceanography and Forensic Architecture
Realised with the support of Borderline Europe, the WatchTheMed platform and Transmediale

As the EU’s policies of deterrence deployed since the Arab uprisings failed to stem migrants’ crossings across the Mediterranean, the Italian government – in collaboration with other European governments and agencies – deployed a two-pronged strategy to close off the central Mediterranean: on the one hand, by criminalising and limiting the rescue activities of the NGOs that have stepped in to make up for the lack of state rescue operations; and on the other, by reinforcing the collaboration with Libyan authorities and militias to prevent and intercept departures, thus physically containing migrants on the Mediterranean’s southern shore without requiring the direct involvement of Italian or EU authorities. This undeclared operation, which dramatically escalated over 2017, is what Forensic Oceanography has called ‘Mare Clausum’ (‘closed sea’ in Latin).

Forensic Oceanography and Forensic Architecture have investigated two cases central to this ongoing ‘Mare Clausum’ research, The Iuventa and Sea Watch vs. Libyan Coast Guard (forthcoming), each concerning one of the dimensions of this policy which entails migrants being brought back to a country where their lives are endangered, and their human rights are systematically violated. These investigations have been made possible by an exponential increase in video documentation by the different actors involved, allowing for a unique form of 3D modelling of incidents developed together with Forensic Architecture.

Since the end of 2016, culminating in summer 2017, a growing campaign of delegitimisation and criminalisation has systematically targeted NGOs engaged in search and rescue. On August 2nd, the ship Iuventa, of the German NGO Jugend Rettet (‘Youth Rescue’), was seized by the Italian judiciary under suspicion of ‘assistance to illegal migration’ and collusion with smugglers during three different rescue operations: the first on the 10 September 2016, the second and third on 18 June 2017. The seizure came only days after the NGO, along with several others, had refused to sign a ‘code of conduct’ that would have dangerously limited their activities. The video presented here offers a counter-investigation of the authorities’ version of these three episodes, and a refutation of their accusations.

This investigation was exhibited as part of Counter Investigations: Forensic Architecture at the Institute for Contemporary Art, London (UK), 7 Mar – 13 May 2018.

Forensic Oceanography Team

Charles Heller

Lorenzo Pezzani

Forensic Architecture Team

Nathan Su

Christina Varvia

Eyal Weizman

Grace Quah

Technical Consultants

Rossana Padaletti (GIS)

Richard Limeburner (Oceanography)

Collaborators

Borderline Europe

WatchTheMed Platform

Transmediale

Footage and stills by  Jugend Rettet e.V. and Reuters

Outsourcing Risk

Outsourcing Risk

Investigating the Ali Enterprises Factory Fire on 11 September 2012

For the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)


Forensic Architecture was asked by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) to carry out an architectural analysis of the fire that destroyed the Ali Enterprises textile factory on 11 September 2012 in Karachi, Pakistan. Inadequate fire safety measures at the company, a supplier for the German clothes retailer KiK, led to the deaths of 260 factory workers. This investigation uncovers the many ways in which design and management decisions not only failed to prevent injury and casualties, but in fact augmented the death toll.

Our findings have now been submitted to the Regional Court in Dortmund, Germany, where legal action against KiK is ongoing. Since March 2015, the Court has been examining a civil claim against KiK filed by four Pakistanis – one survivor and three relatives of workers killed in the fire – with support from the ECCHR and medico international.

Method

Our analysis of the building and the incident was based on available satellite and ground-level photography, witness sketches, and survivor testimonies, as well as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Joint Investigation Team (JIT) reports that served as material for the case file. As part of our analysis, we constructed a precise, navigable three-dimensional model and a film that illustrates and simulates the path of the fire and studies the building’s vulnerability to it. We also collaborated with other specialists in order to simulate the smoke propagation and the paths that the occupants used to escape the building. We used the crowd and smoke simulations to not only recreate the actual conditions of the fire, but also to test variations in architectural configuration and management of space that is more compliant with the law.

The smoke simulation was made in collaboration with:

Edmund Ang, PhD researcher in advanced computer modelling and fire dynamics, Hazelab at Imperial College London

and

Prof. Guillermo Rein, Professor of Fire Science at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Imperial College London, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Fire Technology, and leader of the research group Hazelab at Imperial College London

The crowd simulation was made in collaboration with:

Dr Virginia Alonso-Gutierrez, Crowd Simulation Specialist / Fire safety engineer and researcher at ENEVAC

Forensic Architecture Team

Eyal Weizman (principal investigator)

Christina Varvia (project coordinator)

Nicholas Masterton

Nico Czyz

Sarah Nankivell

Hana Rizvanolli

Collaborators

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)

Edmund Ang | Hazelab at Imperial College London

Prof. Guillermo Rein | Hazelab at Imperial College London

Dr. Virginia Alonso-Gutierrez | ENEVAC

Press

Trägt KiK die Verantwortung für 260 Tote? | SPIEGEL TV, 1 February 2018

The Ayotzinapa Case

The Ayotzinapa Case

A Cartography of Violence

In collaboration with Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh), Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense (EAAF), and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) for the families of the victims.



On the night of 26-27 September 2014, students from the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa were attacked in the town of Iguala, Guerrero, by local police in collusion with criminal organisations. Numerous other branches of the Mexican security apparatus either participated in or witnessed the events, including state and federal police and the military. Six people were murdered, including three students. Forty more were wounded, and forty-three students were forcibly disappeared.

The whereabouts of the disappeared students remains unknown, and their status as ‘disappeared’ persists to this day. Instead of attempting to solve this historic crime, the Mexican state has failed the victims, and the rest of Mexican society, by constructing a fraudulent and inconsistent narrative of that night’s events.

Forensic Architecture was commissioned by – and worked in collaboration with – the Equipo Argentino de Antropologia Forense (EAAF) and Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh) to conceive of an interactive cartographic platform to map out and examine the different narratives of this event. The project aims to reconstruct, for the first time, the entirety of the known events that took place that night in and around Iguala and to provide a forensic tool for researchers to further the investigation.

The data on which the platform is based draws from publicly-available investigations, videos, media stories, photographs and phone logs. We transposed the accounts presented across these sources into thousands of data points, each of which has been located in space and time and plotted within the platform in order to map incidents throughout the night, and the complex relationships between them. This demonstrates, in a clear graphic and cartographic form, the scale of collusion and coordination between state agencies and organised crime throughout the night.

In this way, the project reveals a cartography of violence spanning from the street corner level to the entire state of Guerrero. It describes an act of violence that is no longer a singular event but a prolonged act, which persists to this day in the continued absence of the 43 students.

It also seeks to demonstrate the ways in which collective civil society initiatives, undertaking independent investigations using innovative analytical tools, could help investigate complex crimes and confront criminal impunity and the failures of Mexican law enforcement.

In particular, it reaffirms our commitment to heal the open wound of the Ayotzinapa case and to work until the truth of the night is clarified, and the students’ whereabouts are known.

In addition to the platform, this project will be exhibited as part of Forensic Architecture: Towards an Investigative Aesthetics from 9 September 2017 – 7 January 2018 at the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC). 

Forensic Architecture Team

Eyal Weizman (Principal Investigator)

Stefan Laxness (Project Coordinator)

Nadia Méndez (Researcher)

Franc Camps Febrer (Design Technology Lead)

Irving Huerta (Researcher)

Theo Resnikoff (Researcher)

Belén Rodríguez (Researcher)

Simone Rowat (Film)

Christina Varvia (Film)

Ariel Caine (Modelling)

Nathan Su (Animation and modeling)

Marina Azahua (Researcher)

Nathalie Tjia (Researcher)

Nicholas Masterton (Researcher)

Sarah Nankivell (Investigation Support)

Robert Trafford (Researcher)

and Anso Studio (3D development)

Collaborators

Special Thanks

John Gibler

Rosario Güiraldes

Pablo Dominguez

Virginia Vieira

Témoris Grecko

Juan Omar Fierro

Taller cartográfico “Ariles”

Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ)

Other Means

Nestor Camilo Vargas

The surviving Ayotzinapa students and the families of the 43 disappeared for their tireless struggle for truth

Press

Digitale Menschenrechtler | Weltspiegel, 14 January 2018

Kidnapping survivor speaks on Ayotzinapa movement | Caller Times (USA Today), 27 October 2017

Forensic Architecture: Habitando maquinarias complejas | Gas TV Mexico, October 2017

Así reconstruyó Forensic Architecture el ataque a los estudiantes de Ayotzinapa | CNN, 28 September 2017

Ayotzinapa three years later: new light, few answers | openDemocracy, 26 September 2017

Parents of the 43 missing students take matters into their own hands | VICE News, 26 September 2017

El caso Ayotzinapa: una cartografía de la violencia | Código, 11 September 2017

La plataforma digital que revela a detalle cómo occurió la desaparición de los 43 de Ayotzinapa | Huffington Post, 8 September 2017

Plataforma Ayotzinapa permite trabajar en nuevas hipótesis | Aristegui en Vivo, 7 September 2017

Three years after 43 students disappeared in Mexico, a new visualization reveals the cracks in the government’s story | The Intercept, 7 September 2017

Ayotzinapa: el mapa interactivo de la tragedia | Proceso, 7 September 2017

The Ayotzinapa Platform: What happened to the 43 disappeared Mexican students? | openDemocracy, 7 September 2017

In 2014, 43 students were massacred. Can digital forensics help solve the crime? | WIRED, 7 September 2017

A tres años de Ayotzinapa, un mural revela los caminos de la violencia | New York Times (Español), 7 September 2017

Desaparición forzada en Iguala: una reconstrucción forense | Aristegui Noticias, 7 September 2017

Los 43 de Ayotzinapa, una cartografía de la violencia en México | El País, 7 September 2017

Ayotzinapa: La inusitada actividad de celulares de policías, delincuentes y estudiantes | Proceso, 7 September 2017

Presentan cartografía caso #Ayotzinapa; muestra minuto a minuto hechos de Iguala | Radio Fórmula, 7 September 2017

Recrean Caso Iguala: culpan al Gobierno por desaparición de 43 | Quadratin, 7 September 2017

Forensic Architecture: Innovative technologies are shedding new light on past crimes | TANK Magazine, September 2017

Torture and Detention in Cameroon

Torture and Detention in Cameroon

The dark side of the U.S.-backed war against Boko Haram

For Amnesty International’s report, Cameroon’s Secret Torture Chambers

Since 2014, Cameroon has been at war with Boko Haram, an armed extremist group responsible for thousands of murders and abductions across the Lake Chad Basin.

Trained and supported by U.S. and European governments, and armed by Israeli private companies, the Cameroonian security forces act with increasing impunity against civilians in the country’s Far North region.

Between 2015 and 2016, Amnesty International collected evidence of over a hundred cases of illegal detention, torture and extra-judicial killing of Cameroonian citizens accused of supporting or being a member of Boko Haram, at around twenty sites across the country.

Using testimony and information supplied by Amnesty International, Forensic Architecture reconstructed two of these facilitiesa regional military headquarters, and an occupied schoolin order to confirm and illustrate the conditions of incarceration and torture described by former detainees.

At the two sites, detainees were kept in degrading and inhumane conditions in dark, crowded, airless cells. All were fed poorly, and most were tortured routinely. Dozens of detainees report witnessing deaths at the hands of Cameroon’s elite military unit, the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), or the Cameroonian intelligence agency, the DGRE.

Forensic Architecture’s research also uncovered the presence of U.S. personnel—military and private contractors—at one of the sites. Using satellite imagery, open-source material, and images gathered from social media, Forensic Architecture demonstrated the proximity of those personnel to sites of incarceration and torture, raising troubling questions for continued American support of Cameroon’s security forces.

A companion article, co-authored with U.S. news website The Intercept, explores some of the further material uncovered in the course of our investigation.


Forensic Architecture team

Eyal Weizman (principal investigator)

Omar Ferwati (project coordinator)

Robert Trafford

Simone Rowat

Nicolas Gourault

Nicholas Masterton

Sarah Nankivell

Christina Varvia