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Three men and then another

 
AnimeshRay / © Animesh Ray - 03/06/2009 07:39:00 project: Ghosts and the City \ Asia \ Cambodia \ Khett Banteay Mean Cheay
On the left is one of some four or five survivors of Tuol Sleng: Chum Mey, the mechanic.  Like a ghost, he hovers over the palace of horror.  He says to me through an interpreter: "Do not forget! Take my photo and tell everyone--one must not forget!"

On the right is a part time tuk tuk driver in Phnom Penh, a lecturer of industrial chemistry in a community college, who tells me of his time during the Khmer Rouge period.  "We lived in Phnom Penh where my father was a government official before the Khmer Rouge came.  My grandfather implored my father to leave Cambodia with the family before the KR entered the city.  But my father did not want to leave Cambodia.  Later we were deported from the city; my father took me all the way to an interior village near the Thai border, not far from Battambong.  There we stayed, my father acting like he did not have an education.  But he was given up by one of his old friends; he was captured and taken away.  I did not see him again.  I survived, so did my mother and my sister......do I think Pol Pot knew of Tuol Sleng and what went on there?  No...I really do not think he knew.  Norodom Sihanouk did not know.  Only very few people who were really bad, knew about this, other than the victims.  I must believe that, otherwise I will go mad."

At the bottom is my motodupe driver in Kampot.  He tells me, "We lived in a village not far from Kampot.  I used to go to a village school.  When KR came, they separated me and my older sister from my parents, then sent us to a camp. For six months I was with my sister, then they separated us.  It was very hard life.  I was hungry most of the time.  They made us work very, very hard....yes, what do you think, of course I cried. But they would beat us if we cried, so we hid our cry.  But luckily, all four of us survived.....why did the KR do this, even to village folks?"  He struggles a little, takes a sharp breath, then waves his arm and says expansively, "You see, they had a plan!"

All builders of nations have plans.  Some plans are just mad plans.

[On my last day in Cambodia the war crime trial of Duch, the commandant of Tuol Sleng, began.  The main newspapers all carried the headline.  You can read here a bit of the history]
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discussion about this photo  exif data 
      
15/06/2009 09:00    from : bombilla
Yeah, I agree with Francis.  It was so easy to get caught up in "photography" there -- in artistic conceits.  You got past that into the ennunciative power of the history that these people carry within them.  That's the real power of photography to change the world. 

-h.

03/06/2009 10:41    from : Furachan
Terrific work here, Animesh, showing a fierce intelligence in the telling. Man, there I was farting around with my pseudo artistic dreamscapes getting absolutely nowhere and you had the sense to concentrate on the lives around you, the ghost survivors of the nightmare.
You have made the triptitch or juxtaposition genre your own of late, my friend and this is a very successful example. Kudos...

 
 
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