1. Trapped In A Pagoda…

    Some 50 villagers from Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Svay Rieng and Pailin, entangled in a land issue an who are staying at Wat Chas, were prevented from crossing the gate of the pagoda by an important and rather disproportionate force of combined riot police and municipal security guards when they wanted to march to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house.

    Four members of the Boeung Kak lake community who showed up in support of the villagers were promptly arrested and evacuated to the police station.

    Two villagers who felt unwell were carried away by LICADHO for medical treatment.

    Mr Khleang Hout, governor of Chroy Changvar, came to hear the complaints of the villagers. How the governor of Chroy Changva can resolve land disputes in far-off provinces will probably remain a mystery.

    (Source: johnvink.com)

     
  2. On the way back to Phnom Penh… sleepers.

    (Source: johnvink.com)

     
  3. Hesitant Weather…

    Alternate sunny and rainy conditions on part of the 60 Km long belgian coastline…

    Part of an ongoing project called ‘This is not Belgium’. See <a href=”http://www.johnvink.com/JohnVinkSite/Other_Countries/Belgium_This_is_not_Belgium_2014/index.html#VIJ2014025H0123” target=”_blank”>HERE</a>

    (Source: johnvink.com)

     
  4. Escaping Conscription…

    Back in 1974 there was still a conscription in Belgium: one wasted year in drab colours. Thanks to a placebo medicine provided by my sister-in-law which was supposed to make me very nervous-looking and a straight-out-of-the-bushes look I was sent to the miltary psychiatric ward in Antwerp. I spent 15 days there in the summer, up at 5:00 AM in room 11Bis, waiting and passing screenings and tests with psychologists, drawing pictures of men women, trees, houses, sticking to a credible scenario of asocial behaviour.

    What ddin’t stick with my scenario was the fact that I brought my father’s Leica f3 with the collapsible 50mm, the smallest and quietest camera I could get, and shot 6 rolls of film in total stealth mode.

    I was not caught and would never have to go to the army, not even in war time.

    (Source: johnvink.com)

     
  5. Look At Me, I Love Art…

    Three day family trip to Amsterdam… Not much time to take photographs: Larry Clark and Ed Van Der Elsken shows, museum visits, trying to explain where the light comes from on Rembrandt paintings to my daughter.

    Always surprised at the way throngs of tourists appropriate art to themselves. I guess ‘being there’ is more important than looking, which anyhow is impossible to do serenely given the permanent stampede.

    (Source: johnvink.com)

     
  6. A Stuttering Start…

    My first conscious attempt to put together a story with photographs, while being afraid of photographing people: we’re talking railway sations in Brussels in 1975 and 1976…

    (Source: johnvink.com)

     
  7. New From Old…

    Summertime is sifting through the old negatives to find unedited photographs and scanning time. For me at least…

    These might end up in ‘This is not Belgium’. Or maybe not.

    (Source: johnvink.com)

     
  8. Murmurs In The Flanders

    The small city of Veurne turned very quiet for a couple of hours yesterday. The annual religious procession of penitents floated through streets lined with people sitting silently on chairs or whispering to each other on cafe terraces. The only sound comes from fake Roman soldiers hitting the street with their javelin or by young girls wearing a curly wig praising the Lord.

    (Source: johnvink.com)

     
  9. A Fair Is A Fair…

    The ‘Foire du Midi’ or ‘Zuidfoor’, an annual fair located in the center of the city of Brussels has been going on since 1885, a few days before the celebrations of the Belgian Independence Day, allowing all those who cannot afford to go on a holiday to enjoy some entertainment. Besides bigger and scarier attractions, not much has changed over the last decades. Brotherhood of the Bald Belgians, members of the ‘Orde van de Brusselse Moestasje’ (Order of the Brussels Mustache), ‘Buumdroegers’ (Tree Carriers), ‘Poeppendroegers’ (Puppet Carriers), ‘Gardevils’ (Guards), take part in a ceremony presided by the mayor of the city.

    The festivities took place at the same time as a 5000-strong pro-Palestinian demonstration…

    Part of an ongoing project called ‘This is not Belgium’. See HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE or HERE.

     
  10. Judicial Machine Rolling…

    The 5 opposition CNRP lawmakers who were arrested for incitement to violence following yesterday’s outbursts of violence (see HERE) during a demonstration requesting freedom of speech are being tried at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. About 500 CNRP supporters gathered at the blockade set up by the riot police to prevent access to the court, soon joined by CNRP lawmakers.

    The implacable logic of the ruling CPP on issues regarding justice which amounts to ‘What we are doing is always legal and what the opposition is doing is illegal when we decide it is’ is spread out in the open again.

    For the armed forces to use lethal weapons, shoot demonstrators or even kill them, instead of applying well known crowd control techniques, for municipal guards to consistently provoke violence because of an uncontrolled behaviour does not, for the ruling party, justify any prosecution or arrest. When one protest, out of dozens of protests in the previous months, turns violent at the hand of CNRP supporters, the judicial machine quickly sets in and targets not the perpetrators, but those who supposedly incited the violence. Why can’t it target those who ordered the excessive violence used by the armed forces?

    Because the prevailing logic within the ruling party is one of old-fashioned politics based on developing antagonism, of machismo muscle flexing, on supposedly clever ‘divide to reign’ strategies.

    It certainly is not a logic which sets out to benefit ALL Cambodians.

    The simple notion of impartiality is totally absent within a fraction of the population. Even the Red Cross/Crescent, supposedly representing the essence of impartiality worldwide, seems to be contaminated by partisan politics in Cambodia: the municipal guards beaten up by protesters yesterday received 25$ from the Cambodian Red Cross. Has the Cambodian Red Cross ever visited those, innocent or not, shot by the military or beaten up by the same municipal guards in the previous months?

    PS: I will leave for Belgium tonight and will not cover what certainly will be interesting Cambodian events in the coming month. Sorry…