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Hackathon by Hafiza Merkezi: How to tell the stories of enforced disappearances


As Hakikat Adalet Hafıza Merkezi (Hafıza Merkezi, engl. Truth Justice Memory Center), we realized a first in our brief history by sharing our data-based work with people coming from all sorts of the creative sectors, in a workshop held in the form of a hackathon on February 11, 2017.

Our expectation from the workshop was to explore new ideas and proposals for disseminating our data and findings in forms of telling that relate to the novel kinds of interactions that the young and upcoming generations have. Close to 40 participants coming from fields of database formation, programming, data visualization, gamification, visual arts and corporate communications have participated and produced striking and unprecedented ideas in drawing attention to the crime of enforced disappearances.

During first part of the workshop, we conveyed information to participants in the general area of work carried out by Hafiza Merkezi, the language and concepts used, and the data produced.

In this context, first, Hafiza Merkezi’s Memory Studies Program Director Özgür Sevgi Göral gave a talk on some of the main discussion points on what to pay attention when telling the stories of atrocities. She talked about the impossibility of testimony and the limits of language in the face of atrocities, and how this may present possibilities for visual symbols that are available to us. She touched upon the issue of responsibility, mentioning the different roles played by state apparatuses on the one hand and the wider sections of society on the other hand, and how a story should make connections between where the atrocity is lived and where it is not. She said that in atrocities one should understand not only the physical destruction of the victims, but also their removal from the realm human dignity; that we should not limit our understanding of victim to “acceptable” ones but to those that we strongly disagree; and that our attitude of remembering should call for certain concepts and approaches while distancing itself from others. Göral finished her talk by giving examples from different types of memorialisation approaches, including those that are victim-oriented, perpetrator-oriented and society-oriented.

oriented, perpetrator-oriented and society-oriented.

From left to right: Kerem Çiftçioğlu, Özgür Sevgi Göral, Erdem Dilbaz

Later, Hafiza Merkezi’s Communications and Advocacy Coordinator Kerem Çiftçioğlu described the data-driven work of the center and its general scope, to help participants have a peek at the background of the documentation work, the interface where the data is kept and the interrelationship between different levels of data. In his presentation, Çiftçioğlu pointed out that the primary aim of the work carried out by Hafiza Merkezi is to demonstrate that the policy of enforced disappearances is a state policy implemented in widespread and systematic way, targeting a certain group with certain political, legal and social patterns, and that this should be part of our visualization objectives.

After conveying information about Hafiza Merkezi and the realm of its work, the participants started developing ideas and producing prototypes with the facilitation of Erdem Dilbaz from Nerdworking. From 12 am noon to 7 pm in the evening, they worked on incredibly creative, insightful ideas and possibilities for applicable practices. As Hafiza Merkezi, we will continue our correspondence with the participants and build up on the process of developing the fruitful ideas formulated during the workshop.

In the coming days, we will share more about the content of these prototypes from our website.

In this context, we would also like to share with you some of the works on visualization that has motivated and inspired us to organize this hackathon. Also, we would be happy should you wish to share ideas or similar creations /productions to our e-mail address.

Visualizing data/Interactive

  • Scorched Earth and Chemical Weapons Attacks in Darfur, Amnesty International: Interactive report documenting Sudan Government’s chemical attack on Darfur.
  • Case Against M. Al Mahdi, International Criminal Court: Interactive-digital presentation of evidence against war felon M. Al Mahdi.
  • Saydnaya Torture Prison: Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture: 3D interactive modeling of the Saydnaya Prison infamous with torture and extrajudicial killings in Syria.
  • Where the Bodies are Buried: Mapping Allegations of War Crimes in Afghanistan, The Nation:  Interactive report concerning the war crimes committed by the US Army Special Forces Unit Against Afgani civilians in 2012.
  • The Fallen of WWII: Interactive documentary examining the human cost of the Second World War
  • Türkiye Kültür Varlıkları, , (Turkey’s Cultural Heritage) Hrant Dink Foundation, Interactive map documenting the cultural heritage of the Armenian, Greek, Syriac and Jewish societies in the Anatolian geography.
  • The stories of a shared and contested city, Association for Historical Dialogue and Research, A project of Public History concerning the historical summary of Nicosia from 1878 to 1974 in the format of an interactive map.
  • Narratives of Displacement and ResistanceAnti-Eviction Mapping Project:Oral history project on evictions administered in San Francisco in an interactive format.
  • Faces of SrebrenicaRadio Free Europe & Radio Liberty: A digital remembrance platform with pictures of massacred Bosnian Moslems.
  • iNakbaZochrost:A mobile device application where users can anchor the destroyed Palestinian settlements during the Nakba period and later.
  • One Angry BirdPeriscopic: A data visualization showing the emotional curve of the opening statements of 10 US presidents.
  • Guesthouse, Merve Bedir and Alican İnal: Sketches and drawing based 3D modeling of the Kumkapı Detention and Removal Center in Kumkapi, Istanbul.


  • How Gay Marriage Finally Won In The U.S. Supreme CourtThe Daily Good: The summary of the changes concerning gay marriages in the US courts and US culture in the past decade.
  • Infographic concerning the Responsibility to Protect in Peacekeeping operationsInternational Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect:  Information about the “responsibility to protect” principle in peacekeeping operations.”
  • Iraqi War DeathsThe New York Times: Infographic giving information about the attacks that caused the deaths of 2, 592 individuals from the US army, the Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga militia in 2007 New York Times Link.
  • The Lives of 10 Famous PaintersAccurat, Giorgia Lupi and Michela Buttignol: Minimalist infographics narrating the biographies of ten famous painters: Pollock, Dali, Matisse, Klimt, Picasso, Mondrian, Klee, Boccioni, Kandinsky, and Miro
  • What fish to eat in which season? com: Infographic showing what fish to eat in which season.  The link.
  • Sulukule Eviction Timeline, Designer Emrah Kavlak, Publisher Sulukule Studio. Timeline diagram of urban gentrification and forced evictions in the Sulukule neighborhood.
  • For other examples that we like, click here.



Street Art/ Mapping

  • Video Mapping. Greenpeace: Video mapping reflected onto the Galata Tower to create awareness about nuclear energy
  • Video Mapping.UNICEF: Video mapping reflected onto the streets of Sweden to create awareness about immigrant children’s rights.
  • Video mapping, Amnesty International: 
  • Lahey'deki Türkiye büyükelçiliği binası üzerine Türkiye'de tutuklu bulunan gazetecilerin isimleri yansıtıldı ve #WPFD2017 hasghtagi ile paylaşıldı.
  • Video mapping. French Designers Studio LeD3: Video of tiger running in the streets of Paris reflected in 3D
  • Examples from StencilsSafa Sosyal
  • Roboski stencil on a curtain, Nalan Yırtmaç
  • Work on stencil reminiscent of the Roboski massacre, Anonymous


  •  Syrian Journey: Choose your own escape routeBBC: A Scenario of the road map of decisions and choices you would have to make for yourself and your family if you were a Syrian  wishing to  escape to Europe.
  • We Wait – Trailer LinkBBC LinkAardman Animations and BBC Connected Studios: A virtual reality project on being next to a Syrian family, sharing their hopes and fears, taking you to a shore in Turkey
  • This War Of Mine – Trailer LinkWiki Link11 Bit Studios: A computer game with the aim of staying alive, inspired by the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War (1992-1996).
  • The Prohibition Game, Association for Civil Rights in Israel: A short animation film inspired by the Wall of Shame built by Israel and its destructive impact on the farmers living on the other side of the border. Inspired by the Farmville game.