Middle East

'Error of judgment': White Helmets apologise for doing viral mannequin challenge

White helmets participate in the Mannequin Challenge.
White Helmets participate in the Mannequin Challenge. Source: YouTube

Syrian civil-war rescue organisation the White Helmets apologises for taking part in the mannequin challenge.

Volunteer rescue service White Helmets, or Syrian Civil Defense, has participated in the viral mannequin challenge, which features people frozen in action while a video records them.

The video was filmed by opposition media group, the Revolutionary Forces of Syria.

It depicts an actor posing as a wounded victim laying upon rubble as two White Helmet volunteers kneel over him.

But the stunt has been subject to criticism.

In a statement to the BBC, the White Helmets, which was awarded the 2016 Right Livelihood Award for its humanitarian service through the Syrian civil war, explained why it chose to take part in the Mannequin Challenge.

"The video and the related posts were recorded by RFS media with Syria Civil Defence (White Helmets) volunteers, who hoped to create a connection between the horror of Syria and the outside world, using the viral Mannequin Challenge," the statement read.

However it said that it recognised such decision was “an error of judgment”.

“We apologise on behalf of the volunteers involved.

"The video was not shared on our official channels, and we took immediate action to discipline those involved and prevent incidents such as this from happening again.

"Our volunteers are committed to saving lives by responding to, and reporting, war crimes in Syria.

"This leaves us open to attacks, not just from the bombs but from those who seek to silence us for telling the truth."

A RFS spokesperson told the BBC that it had attempted to raise awareness about the plight of Syrian civilians through other trends including comic-book superheroes The Avengers and Pokemon Go.

The mannequin challenge began with students in Florida, the US, in October.