The Progressist, USA

The Unforgiven

Published in April 2018

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Journalist Stephanie Hoo commisioned me a portrait for a piece she was writing for “The Progressist” in USA. The article talks about how Trump Administration in waxing a program which had set to a halt for the last 2 years. The program, started in another Administration, returns to Cambodia people who had fled Khmer Rouge’s terror in the early 80’s, many of them from regugee camps set in Thailand. Many of the people being retuirned had not even set a foot in their parent’s country since they had been born in the refugee camps before being relocated within the international community, USA, Canada, France, etc…
The Returnee program sets that a non-citizxen person with a court felony in USA is eligible to being returned to their country of origin after having served their time, but in this case, the vast majority are culturaly as USA-bond as any other person holding the blue passport. Many of them have been returned over smaller charges which might be considered felonies in some states (small credit card fraud, public peeing, etc…) in any case, they had already served their time. Moreover the majority when they land to Phnom Penh have no idea in how to speak Khmer, and they are left with no relatives and no basic support other than some NGOs that might help them go through the adaptation to the new culture and country. There are some sad stories there…
I had the chance to photograph Sophy, she is a member of “I love Cambodia” a group of deportees trying to loby the Cambodian and US government to stop these actions.

Watch full article at The Progressist website