Skip to main content

A photo of a man depicting his moral anguish, with the words

In April 2024 we had the pleasure of hosting a photography exhibition entitled Afghanistan Veterans: Moral Injury and Righting Wrongs.

The series of photographs presents Afghanistan veterans from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany and Sweden, who became leading political advocates for the protection and rights of Afghan interpreters at risk due to their association with Western forces.

Through portraiture and interview quotes, photographer and Afghanistan veteran Andy Barnham and Professor Sara de Jong (University of York) provide insight into the motivations of the veteran advocates’ commitment to their Afghan former colleagues.

Moral injury is caused by the violation of one’s ethics and generates guilt and shame, but can also provide fuel for political engagement with the aim to right wrongs. The leading veteran advocates portrayed here amplified the voices of Afghan interpreters through media engagement, political lobbying, and legal challenges and provided direct support, including during the evacuation efforts in August 2021.

Combining portraits with their inverted double images, the veteran political advocates are portrayed as looking at themselves in the mirror, only able to face themselves when stepping out of anonymity and challenging the unjust treatment of their former Afghan colleagues. Their advocacy efforts helped assuage moral conflict, but also led them to uncover the deep structural injustices of war economies and migration policies.

Find out more

View the photographs and read some of the interview extracts in the Exhibition Guide

Watch Prof. Sara de Jong describe the research project in an in-depth presentation

Find out about the work of the Sulha Alliance, a charity co-founded by Sara that supports Afghan interpreters and other Locally Engaged Civilians (LECs) who worked for the British Army