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The power of persuasive images

The power of persuasive images

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

any good.

"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

as 118,000.

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