30 September 2023

Misleading: Two pictures in this collage show protesters in Turkey, not Myanmar

While some images show the scenes from the ongoing protests in Myanmar, others are old photos taken in Turkey in 2011 and 2013.

On Feb. 9, a set of four pictures started circulating on Twitter showing the scenes from the anti-coup protest staged in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.

The post claims some protesters got hit by water cannons and were injured. It has been retweeted at least 1,500 times and gained more than 900 likes.

These pictures have also been posted by other Twitter accounts in various combinations.

The post purportedly shows excessive use of force by the authorities.

However, the combination of these photos is misleading as two of them were old, and not taken in Myanmar.

Through image search, Annie Lab discovered that the two pictures of protesters being hit by water cannons were originally taken in Turkey several years ago.

The picture below was taken by AFP photographer Adem Altan in Turkey on Jan. 5, 2011 at an anti-government student rally. It was published by the New York Times and other publications at the time.

Altan’s picture depicts a student rally in Ankara that was held on Jan. 5, 2011 to protest against the administration of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The second picture below was also taken in Turkey two years later on June 11, 2013 by Associated Press photographer Thanassis Stavrakis.

It shows a protester being hit by a water cannon during anti-government protests. It was also published by the Atlantic, USA Today and other publications then.

This protest took place near Taksim Square and Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey during the third term of then Prime Minister Erdoğan.

The other photos featured in the post are authentic. The one below was taken by Nyan Hlaing Lin, a senior reporter at local Myanmar news agency Myanmar Now.

It was taken in Naypyitaw on Feb. 9 after the police used a water cannon against the crowd.

The last picture below contains three images. Annie Lab found out that the two images on the right were included in an article by BBC News Myanmar.

We reached out to BBC to learn the identity of the photographer but were not able to get a response as of this writing.

According to the BBC report, the people in the pictures were protesters that had been shot by the riot police using live rounds in Naypyitaw.

The three images shown in the tweet are said to depict protesters injured by live rounds fired by the police at the crowd.
A comparison between the photos published by BBC News Myanmar and the two posted in a tweet.

The two injured protesters are also seen in a BBC video clip but from a different angle. The protester wearing a red and blue tracksuit can be seen at 1:13. The other protester appears at 1:20.

The video shows the man after he was led away to receive medical attention.
The video of one of those injured, taken from another angle.

The picture on the left of a man with apparent injuries on his face does not seem to have appeared on any local or international publications although it has been circulating on Twitter and shared by dozens of accounts.

The picture allegedly shows a man who was injured during the protest in Myanmar on Feb. 9.

However, Annie Lab was able to find other visual clues placing a man that resembles the protester in the picture at the protests.

A photo taken by local news outlet Irrawaddy (Burmese Edition) shows a protester at the back of an ambulance who wears a similar-looking dark shirt and has almost identical blood stains on the face.

The man in the two pictures appears to be the same person.

In the BBC video, there is also a shot of a man seated at the back of an ambulance with the same paramedic in green shirt who was featured in the Irrawaddy photograph.

The video from BBC and the photo from Irrawaddy show two men – one who appears to be a paramedic tending an injured man.

Annie Lab was also able to find a photo taken by photographer Maung Lonlan during the protests in the nation’s capital that has been used in other publications.

The picture shows the same protester in the ambulance with paramedics. It was uploaded to the European PressPhoto Agency (EPA) on Feb. 9.

According to the description, the photograph was taken shortly after police fired a water cannon at protesters on Feb. 9.

The Twitter account that initially posted the set of photos later apologized for including two irrelevant pictures after some users pointed out some images are not from Myanmar.

The account owner wrote:

“Sorry. I found these from my timeline and just tweet them without thinking a minute. Sorry if these two are not from our country.”

But this tweet with an apology did not get any traction (just one retweet and two likes).

The clarification post has received significantly less traction than the misleading one.