September 25, 2018
Maziar Bahari, Filmmaker and Journalist
Moderated by Shamila Chaudhary, Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute
Iranian Canadian journalist and filmmaker, Maziar Bahari, joined the school’s community for a discussion on the importance of confronting historical conflict through memorials and what the Holocaust can teach us about the current conflict in Syria after the screening of his documentary “82 Names: Syria, Please Don’t Forget Us.”
The documentary features the story of Mansour Omari, a Syrian human rights activist who was imprisoned for nine months and tortured by the Assad regime. Omari smuggled out scraps of clothes recording the names of all 82 of his cellmates.
While commending Omari’s courage and emphasizing the importance of memorializing the atrocities committed in Syria, Bahari reflected on a reconciliatory process that would require a genuine dialogue among different people. He encouraged the school’s student body to question the common wisdom and the realities around them. “Every voice is important,” Bahari noted, especially when “we live in a world where everyone can be a medium.”
On the question of pursuing justice in a world where history is usually written by the victors, Bahari noted that the existence of these memorials provided a more sophisticated analysis of both the victors’ and victims’ narratives. The discussion also included his remarks on the punishment of perpetrators in humanitarian crimes, the incumbent Iranian regime as well as the responsibility of journalists to courageously pursue truth.
The event was part of Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute’s The Big Picture forum that explores international affairs through arts and culture.