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Drawing for justice and peace


[Ed. note: We got an email from Daniel Heyman that shocked us out of our chairs. Heyman, a Philadelphia artist and teacher is in Jordan doing drawings of Iraqi torture victims who are being interviewed by a group of lawyers and journalists for a human rights project. Heyman had a Fleisher Challenge exhibit last year in which an image of his was defaced. The image was of the famous hooded Abu Ghraib torture victim. Heyman has documented his time spent on the project in a daily journal on his website. The last few pages of his online journal are illustrated with the drawings he did. Here is Heyman’s email from Jordan and below is a journal entry with drawing.]

I am currently spending a week in Amman, Jordan, with a group of lawyers from Philadelphia, Detroit, and London, as well as a journalist and a photographer from the states interviewing victims of torture from Iraq. Each day, I listen to interviews with the victims as I make dry point portraits of the victims. Many of these portraits have text that I write down as I hear it from the translators. When I return to Philadelphia, I will print these portraits, along with the texts into either a portfolio or an artist’s book. I am putting daily reports on my website, under the “news” section. I thought I would let you know about the project, as it is truly fascinating, and I am very privileged to be here. I hope that all is going well with you in Philadelphia. –Daniel

Journal Entry:

Heyman’s drawing of H.A. All the drawings include words the interviewee said during the interview.
H.A. is a legitimate hero. He is one of the prisoners whose photograph standing on a cardboard box hooded and attached to electrical wires has become the icon of this war. But H.A. is not just the person under the hood; he is also the founder of the Association of Victims of American Occupation Prisons, an organization that helps survivors of torture in the prisons in Iraq cope with their many physical, mental social and financial hardships. The organization has 49,000 members and is completely non-sectarian and non-political. The AVAOP never asks someone if they are Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Kurd, as, according to H.A., they are all Iraqis. I only had about an hour with H.A., and T. arrived half way through that time. The interview was not about his prison experiences, as those have already been pretty well documented. Instead we discussed his organization, and human rights organizations in Iraq in general. A. claims that most of the human rights organizations in Iraq today are actually fronts for partisan factions. Here is the drawing I did.