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PHNOM PENH, April 13 -- The Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts on April 11 requested an Irish photographer remove photographs of Cambodian victims of the Southeast Asian country’s 1970s genocide regime which were modified to show them smiling and post on an art and cultural website of a US media group, reported VNA.
These original images, which were taken between 1975-1979, now form a central part of the sombre display at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh.
The new images, restored by the Irish photographer Matt Loughrey, not only have had colour added to them but also, in a horrific twist, have been digitally altered so that some of the victims appear to be smiling.
The ministry argues that Loughrey's action is unacceptable, affects the reality of Cambodian history, and violates the rights of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum as the legal owner of the original photos.
Apart from asking Loughrey to remove the photos from the website, the Cambodian ministry also asked researchers, artists and the public not to change historical documents as this shows disrespect for victims. The ministry said it would consider taking legal actions both domestically and through international channels if Loughrey did not comply with Cambodia's request.