‘One picture says it all about Syria’: Image that won Turkish photographer ‘photo of the year’ – ThePrint

'Hardship of Life' | Mehnat Aslan | Photo: sipacontest.com
‘Hardship of Life’ | Mehnat Aslan | Photo: sipacontest.com

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New Delhi: Turkish photographer Mehmet Aslan won “photo of the year” at the annual Siena International Photo Awards 2021 Saturday with a picture of a Syrian refugee and his son in the Turkish province of Hatay.

Titled ‘Hardship of Life’, the photo shows the father, Munzir, who lost his right leg in a bombing in Syria’s Idlib, holding up his son Mustafa, who was born without limbs. In the photo, Munzir can be seen resting his limb on a crutch as his son smiles down at him.

After fleeing Idlib, the family now live in southern Turkey near the Syrian border where they have been seeking prosthetics for Mustafa.

The young boy was born with a rare congenital disorder called tetra-amelia, which is characterised by the absence of all four limbs. This was “caused by the medications his mother Zeynep had to take after being sickened by nerve gas released during the war in Syria”, states the Siena International Photo Awards website.

In a report by The Washington Post, the mother was quoted as saying: “The picture has reached the world…We’ve tried for years to get our voices heard by anyone who would listen, to help with his treatment. We’d give anything to give him a better life.”

Aslan first met the family in southern Turkey where they lived in a shop, added the report.

The photo has moved people across the world with its powerful messaging.

Hakan Copur, the Washington bureau chief for Anadolu Agency, tweetedJust one picture tells everything about what happened in #Syria.”

In 2020, French Photographer Greg Lecoeur’s photo of a giant iceberg surrounded by crabeater seals won the top prize at the 6th annual Siena International Photo Awards.

‘Hope this will help ease backlash against refugees in Turkey’

Aslan also expressed his gratitude for the award, noting that there were entries into the annual photography competition from 163 countries.

“We wanted to bring attention to this,” Aslan told The Washington Post, adding that he hopes the photograph will highlight the family’s quest for prosthetics for Mustafa and will help ease the backlash against refugee communities in Turkey.

The photographer also explained that Munzir lost his right leg in a bomb while shopping in a bazaar in Syria. His wife, who was pregnant at that time, inhaled the nerve gas and soon after, Mustafa was born.


The family left their home in Idlib, a city in northwestern Syria. Idlib has been a hotbed for violence owing to the fact that it is the last province of the rebel and jihadist groups, which has come under attacks by government forces and allies.

(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)

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