Accepting the Academy Award, director Orlando von Einsiedel urged the audience to stand up and call for an end to Syria’s six-year civil war, which led to a standing ovation.
Von Einsiedel read out a statement from White Helmets founder Raed al-Saleh, in which he thanked the academy and said the group had saved tens of thousands of lives since it was formed in 2014.
“We are so grateful that this film has highlighted our work to the world. Our organisation is guided by a verse from the Quran: to save one life is to save all of humanity,” Saleh’s statement said.
“We have saved more than 82,000 Syrian lives. I invite anyone here who hears me to work on the side of life to stop the bloodshed in Syria and around the world.”
Rescue workers in Syria are at risk of being killed in so-called “double tap” air raids that target them as they arrive at the scene of an air strike. The group says that many of its volunteers have been killed.
Syrian cinematographer Khaled Khatib who worked on the documentary was unable to attend after being barred from entering the United States, despite being granted a visa.
US officials reportedly discovered “derogatory information” about him, according to a document seen by the Associated Press news agency.
The film’s producer Joanna Natasegara told AP on Sunday that the decision was “sad and confusing.”
Nothing “sad and confusing” about it. The White Helmets are Al Nusra, aka Al Qaeda, aka ISIS.
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