26 September 2023

False: This photo does not show ‘Australian protester’ with rubber bullet wounds; it shows a man in Argentina in 2015

The photo shows a demonstrator in a labor dispute in Buenos Aires on Dec. 22, 2015, according to the Associated Press. It has nothing to do with the anti-vaccine mandate protests in Melbourne in September this year.

On Sept. 20, a post on Twitter claimed an Australian protester was shot nine times with rubber bullets — with a photo showing the back of a man with visibly disturbing wounds. It suggested he is against mandatory vaccination and lost his job due to that.

The claim has been posted both in English (left) and Chinese tweets (right).

The same claim with the same picture was posted by another user in Chinese who also added, “in the future, he will proudly say ‘I was at the scene and fought back valiantly then’” to the claim.

At the time of writing, the English tweet has 310 retweets and 498 likes while the other in Chinese gained 302 retweets and 635 likes.

However, the claim is false and the photo was used misleadingly. The image actually shows a demonstration in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2015.

An old tweet posted on Dec. 22, 2015 indeed includes the same photo and gives credits to the Associated Press (AP).

Annie Lab looked into the AP Images website and found the original version of the photo taken by photographer Anibal Greco on the same day.

The caption says the photo was taken in Buenos Aires on Dec. 22, 2015.

According to the description, the photo shows the back of a protester who was shot with rubber bullets during a demonstration against a poultry company, demanding unpaid salaries. The police are reported to have fired the rubber bullets while dispersing protesters who tried to block the roads near Ezeiza’s international airport.

In Australia, the state government of Victoria announced in mid-September that construction workers would need to prove to their employer that they have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine jab by Sept. 23.

On Sept. 20, a violent protest took place outside the headquarters of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union in Melbourne, which represents construction workers, according to media reports (also here).

The street protests continued and escalated into a violent clash on the following day between demonstrators and riot police who reportedly used pepper sprays and other crowd control methods.