Thursday, April 23, 2009

KR momentos up for sale likely fake, officials insist


Written by Sam Rith
Thursday, 23 April 2009

Former Tuol Sleng photographer Nhem En is trying to sell what he says are Pol Pot's sandals, Tuol Sleng cameras.

Nhem En with his cameras and Pol Pot's purported sandals in Siem Reap.
GOVERNMENT officials and members of civil society have expressed doubt over the authenticity of sandals supposedly worn by Pol Pot and a pair of cameras that former Khmer Rouge photographer Nhem En says come from Tuol Sleng prison.
On Sunday, Nhem En said he wanted national and international companies to bid on the shoes, made from tyre rubber, and cameras at a starting price of US$500,000, even though outside sources have not confirmed their provenance.
Youk Chhang, the director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said it would be difficult to determine if the sandals were actually worn by Pol Pot, for the simple reason that many sandals look the same.
Nhem En was unable to provide the Post with any evidence that the shoes were Pol Pot's or that his cameras had come from the infamous torture centre.
But he disagreed with Youk Chhang, saying that their authenticity could be proven "with modern technology".
The former Tuol Sleng guard who photographed prisoners said he received the shoes in 2000 from General Khim Tean, a former Khmer Rouge army commander, and that he had personally brought the cameras from Tuol Sleng to his father's house in 1977. Many, however, remain sceptical.
"I do not believe [the shoes and cameras] are real, because I have not seen them yet," said Culture Minister Him Chhem.
Pen Samitthy, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists and editor-in-chief of Rasmey Kampuchea, turned down Nhem En's request to hold a press conference announcing the sale. Nhem En said he will hold his own press conference on Friday in Siem Reap.
Poverty = Desperation. Cambodians will sell anything to make a "buck" even if it means devaluing their own history or cultural heritage.

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