Cambodians demand apology over altered images of genocide victims

Cambodians are demanding an apology after an Irish artist altered images of the country’s genocide victims, including digitally colouring and adding smiles to prisoners facing execution.

As of Monday, a petition calling for the artist, Matt Loughrey to apologise had received almost 1,400 signatures, dpa news agency reported.

It also called for an apology from media outlet VICE, which published the photos on April 9.

The article has since been removed, with VICE issuing a statement expressing regret and promising an investigation.

The photos of prisoners were taken at the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh run by the ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge.

In power between 1975 and 1978, the communists oversaw the deaths of more than 1.5 million Cambodians by starvation, disease and execution.

The VICE article also included false information about one of the genocide victims, whose relative took to social media to correct the record.

In a statement on Sunday, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts called the pictures “a violation of the dignity of Cambodian genocide victims”.

“These photos minimise the harm and violence that these prisoners absorbed,” said one of the petitioners, Randy Kim, a board member of the National Cambodian Heritage Museum and the son of a Khmer Rouge survivor.