A group led by Norwegian film director Lar Klevberg was being harshly criticized over the weekend, also in Norway, for publishing a video on YouTube that allegedly showed a Syrian boy being shot while still trying to save a little girl. Instead, the video was made in Malta last summer, in an effort to draw attention to the plight of Syrian children, and it backfired badly.
“Like many people who watched the “Syrian hero boy” video last week, I was disgusted by the images … and inspired by the heroism of the act,” wrote Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch. “Now I’m just disgusted.” The “short action film” produced with funding from the Norwegian Film Institute and Arts Council Norway has proven to be a hoax, and Abrahams claims Klevberg and his crew have damaged the situation for victims of the Syrian civil war instead of helping them.
“Klevberg and his colleagues have cast doubt on the videos and photographs of real atrocities that have emerged from the Syria war,” Abrahams wrote. “By releasing a fake video (initially portrayed as being authentic), Klevberg has made it easier for war criminals to dismiss credible images of abuse.”
The head of Norway’s national press federation, Kjersti Løken Stavrum, called the video hoax “unethical” and claimed it was “very damaging for all those trying to report important information. “The next time we see something like this, we may think it’s also falsified,” she said.
Klevberg said he understood the harsh reaction to his stunt on YouTube, also from established who spread the link of the video believing it to be authentic. He wasn’t willing to apologize, though, and stressed that it was most important for him “to get the media to focus on what happens with children in wars, and especially what Syrian children are experiencing now.”