Keynote speakers at a preview of the Peace of Art Project Cambodia exhibition for
foreign media at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Phnom Penh were David de Beer,
left, program manager of EU-ASAC (European Union Assistance on curbing Small Arms
and light weapons in Cambodia) and veteran photographer Tim Page, right.
De Beer said ASAC was a weapons management, collection and destruction program. The
images of weapons being destroyed on a funeral pyre and then being reforged into
works of art were important in "helping the people come to see that their security
does not rely on an illegally owned weapon but on the local authorities and police.
"This allows them to realise that, by giving up their weapon, their image of
a violent or intimidating society changes to that of a society more aimed towards
the culture of peace.
"PAPC will play its part in providing striking images of Cambodia as a country
where weapons should no longer recall violence and war, but can be creatively used
to describe Cambodia as being on the road towards attaining a culture of peace."
Page, whose photographs comprise some of the striking visual images accompanying
the exhibition, had a somewhat different viewpoint: "I want to see the bickering
among NGOs stop. All these powerful bodies that do have an influence and can do something,
are they rowing the boat together? Everybody's bloody lucky because without UNTAC
they wouldn't have a job. Give peace a chance.
"Victims are not fashionable, the problem we've got is this donor fatigue. It's
not fashionable to play up the peace dividend. This exhibition will hopefully return
victims to a fashionable point of view as opposed to being marginalised by donor
fatigue, the Spice Girls, David Beckham, by sound bites on shonky tv which does nobody
"The power of the media is still there in terms of the still image, but where
one picture used to be worth a thousand words, it's now worth a billion pixels."
* Footnote: EU ASAC was to destroy 3547 weapons at Kampong Cham stadium this morning
(Friday) in a Flame of Peace ceremony. The total destroyed since May 1999 is reported