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THE OBSERVERS

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.

Latest update : 2013-11-05

Syrian suicide bombers' propaganda; Iran's phallic sculptures; 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 today in Syria, where more and more of the fighting - on the rebel side - is being done by Islamists inspired by al Qaeda. They have brought with them tactics used in Iraq and Afghanistan, notably suicide bombings. When fighters kill themselves, they need to be replaced. And the best way to recruit, apparently, is to make a promotional video. Our Observer Rami has been watching the videos - with dismay - from his home in Homs.

 

Story 3: Iran

Now to Northwestern Iran, and what's known as the Khalid Nabi cemetery. It's a site that consists of hundreds of standing stones. Some archaeologists say the stones are highly stylized sculptures of people. Locals, and the tourists who come from across Iran to see them, see something else...

 

Story 3: World

First stop, Sao Paulo in Brazil, and a demonstration for free public transportation. The man being beaten is a commander of the military police. He's being attacked by anarchists. Alex Demian, who shot the video, said the officer had hit a female demonstrator. In the end a colleague wearing plainclothes rescues the officer. The event was staged by radicals trying to revive popular frustration with the cost of living, which brought hundreds of thousands of Brazilians into the streets earlier this year.

 

Now to Greece, where immigrants have recently faced harassment and violence from members of far-right groups. But not all Greeks are so unwelcoming. During a police raid on illegal street vendors, many of them immigrants, university students in Athens opened their doors to the fleeing vendors. The students succeeded in persuading the police to abandon the operation. Our observer Malang, a vendor from Senegal, told us the students were "guardian angels".

 

Last stop, China, in a factory that's a subcontractor to global toy giant Mattel, maker of the famous Barbie doll. Our Observer got inside the factory as part of an investigation for a workers' rights group. He spent more than a month there, seeing workers get underpaid and overworked, sleeping in dormitories with questionable hygiene, and being insulted by stressed managers. According to the group, China Labor Watch, six factories operate under such conditions. Mattel has said it plans to investigate.

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