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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Deadly Photos

Deadly Photos

This morning, at about 5.15 am, a murder was committed at 182 Street near to the

Capitol Hotel. Gunmen fired two shots at their victim before driving away on a motorcycle.

I did not see the incident but I heard the shots and like many others I went to see

what had happened. The victim was lying on the pavement fatally wounded; fatally

wounded and quite frankly without any hope of survival, but still alive. It is my

belief however that even the most remote chance to preserve life should be acted

upon - a belief that perhaps could be applied to Cambodia as a whole in these current

times. Yet I was dragged away from the body before I could make any attempt whatsoever

to keep the man alive and in the few seconds it took me to struggle free he had died.

However, no attempt was made to prevent the horde of Westerners who descended upon

the scene with their cameras and flashguns from taking photographs of the now dead

body.

Although I am not resident in Cambodia I realize that such acts of violence are endemic,

but has murder become so commonplace that it is considered more acceptable to photograph

a dead body than to at least try to prevent the death? Am I the only person to find

the implications of this macabre scenario disturbing? One of the photographers, claiming

to be a legitimate representative of the press and complaining that the gunshots

had woken him up, found my outraged sense of morality misplaced: he was more concerned

with the recording of death than the preservation of life and could not, or would

not, appreciate that under the circumstances I considered his attitude sick.

I fully understand that the press have a duty to record such events and, being no

innocent, I know damn well that death makes a better story than death averted, but

how far have the limits of decency been pushed? Go back and apply the implications

of this one mindless incident and apply it to the whole of Cambodia again. Then question

the role of the press. Are they merely recording (from afar) a descent into madness

and death, disguising insensitivity with the notion of faithful reportage? Or do

they hope to achieve something more positive? If they really are concerned with the

latter perhaps in future they may express disapproval of the killing instead of the

early of murder. And maybe then steps can be taken to prevent death instead of simply

noting that it happened again.

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