Yahoo! News Photo Staff

'War and peace in Liberia' —Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros on the frontline

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Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros’s powerful photographs played an important role in moving the world to action and ultimately bringing the Second Liberian Civil War (1999-2003) to an end.

Trapped with Liberian dictator Charles Taylor’s forces in besieged Monrovia in the summer of 2003, Chris braved artillery and rocket fire to send frontline pictures of women and children being killed by the hundreds. His photos ran on front pages around the world and provoked outrage over a brutal war whose victims were almost entirely noncombatants.

Tim Hetherington, embedded with the LURD rebels in the same period, provided documentation of the rebels shelling civilians. Even the ruthless Charles Taylor considered him a threat and sent assassination squads to kill the British photojournalist. Tim barely escaped, only to return and live in Liberia following the conflict. His haunting book, Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold, has become a standard text of the Liberian wars.

Together, these two photographers alerted the world to Liberia’s humanitarian disaster and helped to build the international momentum that resulted in the deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping mission that brought the war to a close, helped set the stage for democratic elections and created a lasting success story for the West African nation and the subregion. The U.N. closed its Liberia mission last year, leaving a country still fragile but with a fighting chance for peace and development.

The photos in this exhibition, some never before shown, are a tribute to these journalists and to the Liberian civilians who protested so powerfully and demanded an end to the violence. In 2011, Tim and Chris, friends and colleagues committed to documenting the truth, were killed by artillery in Misurata, Libya.

‘War and Peace in Liberia‘ slideshow and discussion with Michael Kamber, Nov. 10, 2018, at the Bronx Documentary Center. Exhibition on view through Dec. 16, 2018.

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Joseph Duo, a Liberian militia commander loyal to the government, exults after firing a rocket-propelled grenade at rebel forces at a key strategic bridge in Monrovia, Liberia, July 20, 2003. (Photograph © Chris Hondros/Getty Images)


A fisherman passes the wreck of an old ship off the port of Greenville, Liberia, Sept. 2005. Liberia is scattered with boat wrecks owing to the 14-year history of civil wars. (Photograph © Tim Hetherington/Magnum Photos)


A woman grieves over the body of a relative outside a church in Monrovia, Liberia, July 26, 2003. Sporadic shelling continued overnight in Monrovia, hitting a church that houses dozens of families and killing at least three. (Photograph © Chris Hondros/Getty Images)


Refugees flee the war, Liberia, 2003. (Photograph © Chris Hondros/Getty Images)


A child Liberian militia member loyal to the government walks away from firing while another taunts them on July 30, 2003, in Monrovia, Liberia. Sporadic clashes continue between government forces and rebel fighters in the fight for control of Monrovia. (Photograph © Chris Hondros/Getty Images)


War graffiti, Liberia, 2004. (Photograph © Tim Hetherington/Magnum Photos)


A member of the AA (anti-aircraft) brigade exchanges a brief tender word with his girlfriend during a heavy fighting in the capital Monrovia, Liberia, June 25, 2003. (Photography © Tim Hetherington/Magnum Photos)


Rain clouds gather over the forest near to Fish Town, Liberia, June 2005. (Photograph © Tim Hetherington/Magnum Photos)


Young rebel fighter and hand grenade, Tubmanburg, Liberia, June 16, 2003. (Photograph © Tim Hetherington/Magnum Photos)