Modified photos of Cambodian torture victims stir up controversy

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodians continue to accuse Irish photo restorers of modifying photos of victims of the 1970s genocide and smiling on Monday, his decision and the decision of an international media group Said he made a terrifying decision.

Friday’s lieutenant announced an interview with Matt Lafrey, who colored a photo of the infamous Khmer Rouge prisoner in Phnom Penh. ..

Later, Vice removed the article from its website and issued a statement saying it was investigating the issue.

“To imagine the smiles of the Khmer Rouge victims, your judgment must be terrifying,” said Youk Chang, director of the Cambodian Documentation Center, on Monday.

The Youk Chhang center is full of evidence of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge has been accused of killing an estimated 1.7 million compatriots due to executions, hunger, overwork and lack of medical care. After winning the civil war and taking power in 1975, the group’s delusional leaders blamed the failure of their utopian plans for the enemy, until the invasion of Vietnam released them in 1979. The purge continued continuously.

The controversy over photography has raised questions about what restrictions should be placed on the manipulation of historical images. This is a particularly sensitive issue in Cambodia, where trauma from atrocities is still apparent.

“The lesson we’ve learned is that we have to accept the fact that the Khmer Rouge isn’t about the past,” Youk Chhang told The Associated Press by email. “Why is it a thing of the past when at least 5 million Khmer Rouge survivors are still alive today?”

In an interview with his adjutant, Lafrey said he was hired by the family of the victims of S-21 to color the photos of his loved ones. After that, he worked on more images from the prison himself. Sleng Genocide Museum. The Associated Press was unable to contact him for comment on Monday.

Some color photographs that accompany the article show that S-21 prisoners are smiling at the camera, and Loughrey gives his thoughts to a deputy interviewer as to why they were smiling. I volunteered.

“Women tended to smile more than men,” he told Vice. “I think much of it is related to tension.”

This article warned those familiar with the collection of original black-and-white photographs, including professional photographer John Vink, who worked in Cambodia.They pointed out that in at least some of the original photos, the subjects weren’t laughing, and Loughrey not only colored the photos, but also retouched them to change their facial expressions.

“Vice’s Matt Loughrey hasn’t colored the S21’s photo. He’s tampering with history,” Vink commented on Twitter on Saturday, smiling with examples of modified versions of the original and Lafray. It was.

Cambodian social media users have jumped into the fight.

“The actions of Matt Loughrey and @ viceasia @ vice really hurt me, my mother, and the entire Cambodian community still suffering from the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge,” Tweeted Thida Leiper.

Loughrey apologized when a lieutenant was asked to sign for an online petition requesting that the story be removed in the photo.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Culture and Art of Cambodia issued a statement saying, “We do not accept this kind of manipulation, and this work by Matt Lugney seriously affects and violates the dignity of the victims, the reality of Cambodian history. We believe that the rights of the museum as legitimate owners and managers of these photographs. “

He said the use of S-21 photos is regulated by Cambodian law and warned that Loughrey and Vice would consider legal action against them unless they took the images offline.

“We urge researchers, artists and the general public not to manipulate historical sources to respect their victims,” ​​the ministry said.

By Monday, Vise withdrew the story and posted a statement in its place.

“This article contained a photo of a Khmer Rouge victim who Loughrey manipulated beyond coloring,” he admitted. “The story has been deleted because it does not meet VICE’s editing criteria. We apologize for the error. We will investigate how this editing process failed.”