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This afternoon I read a short story by the late Anthony Veasna So, in which the American-raised narrator mentions the enduring grief of his father, a Cambodian refugee. I thought about my dad: the aura of sorrow that hung over him at times, and no wonder - 3 brothers killed and a sister lost during the Khmer Rouge era. Every Cambodian family has a similar tale of loss and pain. Then I got this msg from a friend, about an Irish artist who had altered mugshots taken at Tuol Sleng, a school that the Khmer Rouge had turned into a prison, where thousands were interrogated and executed. He had colorised the photos and, ghoulishly, even added smiles to the faces in some of them. He was unapologetic for his revisioning of history; he said he had worked with the families of the subjects (apparently not) and he was 'humanising' the subjects - as if their humanity wasn't already apparent. I am appalled that Vice thought it was okay to publish a story that trivialises the pain and terror of so many people.


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