An exhibition of pictures mounted at the Council of Europe provides a glimpse of human suffering that’s hard to imagine.

“Look closely at them, look into the subjects’ eyes, and as you do so, remind yourself that every one of those people has been through a trauma that we, in the western world, cannot even begin to contemplate,” the photographer, Darrin Zammit Lupi, said yesterday.

“Think about what those eyes have seen and then ask yourself why so many people think they do not deserve our protection, that they should be left to die at sea, that they should become fish food.”

The Times of Malta and Reuters photo­journalist was speaking at the launch of an exhibition – which has travelled from Malta to Strasbourg – of 10 photographs of migrants chosen from the thousands he has taken over the past 10 years.

Displayed at the foyer outside the Assembly Chamber at the Council of Europe and funded by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Isle Lander exhibition forms part of the celebrations commemorating 50 years of Malta’s membership of the CoE.

Mr Zammit Lupi told those present for the launch, which was also addressed by President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, that he photo­graphed the story of these people from an aesthetic and artistic point of view not for the sake of pretty pictures, but to make them more emotionally compelling.

“I’m also a journalist, so I have a responsibility to my readers and viewers to tell the truth. Does that mean that I have to be totally objective and impartial, or neutral in the face of what is a very controversial and divisive issue in Malta and the rest of Europe? I don’t believe that. I believe that photojournalism is an extremely powerful advocacy tool, and I make no apology for that,” he said.

Lastly, he was also a human being, and so were the people depicted in his photos: “They are fellow citizens in an unequal world.”

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