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A show produced with photos, videos and personal accounts from our Observers around the world - all checked by our staff here in Paris. Saturday at 10.15 am Paris time. We'll be back in September with a new series.

THE OBSERVERS

THE OBSERVERS

Latest update : 2012-01-11

A cameraman is killed in Syria, a principal beats students with help from soldiers in Ivory Coast, and more...

This show is made up entirely of amateur images. We've seen time and time again how images captured by ordinary citizens then uploaded onto the Web can change history, or at least shift the balance of power. This week, we take a look back at some of those moments.

STORY 1: SYRIA

We begin once again today in Syria. As you know, Bashar al Assad's government does not allow foreign journalists to cover the unrest. So we have to depend on videos filmed  by brave local cameramen - amateurs who risk their lives day after day to film what's going on, and put it on YouTube. On the last day of the year, the danger finally caught up to one of these citizen journalists. We have the story from Omar, one of our Observers in Homs.

STORY 2: IVORY COAST


Next up: Ivory Coast. It's been months now since the dangerous standoff between rival presidents Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo. But the rebel soldiers who helped Ouattara prevail are still in the streets of Abidjan - with their guns. It's a source of tension, even inside the city's schools.

Our Observer is a concerned parent in the Marcory district.

We contacted the principal shown in the video. He admitted beating the students with a hose. He said they deserved it, because the firecrackers had caused chaos in his school. He said the students' parents had given him the OK to punish their children.

 

STORY 3: WORLD

Next, our weekly roundup of the best images and stories sent in by our Observers.


First up, a video from Paktika province in Afghanistan, courtesy of our Observer Nasim. The pictures are chilling: these children are armed with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades. But Nasim explains that it's really just propaganda. He says the Afghan Taliban regularly post videos like this on the Internet, and that the children are probably not real child soldiers. It's a "mise en scene", staged by the Taliban's media arm. The idea, Nasim says, is to spread fear and give the world the impression that every Afghan - man, woman, and child - is ready to fight the foreign occupation.

We finish in China, with a story from our Observer Sui. It began with this photograph, posted by a young Chinese woman who apparently wanted to show off her wonderful, prosperous life. In the caption she says she earns 300,000 euros a year and drives a BMW. That set off a slew of similar postings by other members of China's elite - displaying their luxury watches and wads of cash. In a country that's still getting used to the idea of rich and poor, this did not go down well. Web users started posting parodies of the showoff photos. Here are some examples Sui sent us.
 

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