Photo by Ali Arkady
© Ali Arkady / VII Photo

The photos that forced one of Iraq’s best photojournalists into exile

Strappado, a new photo essay by Ali Arkady, is now available in English and Arabic. Produced by the GRC and VII Academy.

See the photo essay in English or Arabic.

In 2016, Iraqi photojournalist Ali Arkady embedded with the country’s special forces – an elite group of both Sunnis & Shiites who were battling ISIS in the name of a unified Iraq – to document the effort. When they began torturing and murdering innocent civilians, Arkady reached for the only tool he had: his camera, taking over thousands of photos and videos. Some of them exposed the brutal war crimes committed by Western-backed coalition forces.

His initial work published by the Toronto Star and ABC News earned him the prestigious Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents in 2017 and the Free Press Unlimited Most Resilient Journalist Award in 2019. But it came at a price – facing death threats, Ali had to flee Iraq with his family, seeking refuge in Europe. 

Since 2018, Ali has been the Global Journalist in Residence at the GRC, where he has provided guidance, support and a unique perspective into the ethics of war reporting. The residency has also allowed him the time and support needed to revisit his work. His latest photojournalism project, Strappado, co-produced by the GRC and VII Agency, looks back on his experience a few years removed.