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Cambodian Photographer Holds Tiananmen Exhibition

“Zero,” an exhibition of photographs from Tiananmen Square protests by Khiang Han Hei, will be held at New York’s Christopher Henry Gallery through June 28.

The US-Cambodian went to Beijing as a student, and was able to chronicle the events. Thirty photographs commemorate the 20th anniversary of the unrest surrounding pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing.

The photographs portray humanity, cruel oppression and the struggle for freedom in a repressed society. He spoke over the phone to VOA Khmer in Washington.

Khiang Han Hei was born in 1968 in Phnom Penh. He now lives and works in New York City.

“I decided to exhibit these photographs for a purpose,” he told VOA Khmer in a recent phone interview in Washington. “We, all people, should not forget that day. I took all these photographs, but I want every country remember that day. That day is important for both Chinese history and world history.”

Khiang Han Hei said “Zero” refers the result of the Internet search in China for information about the Tiananmen Square massacre.

“We cannot find anything,” he said. “We find only tourists there, but what happened before, such as unrest in Tiananmen Square, is not seen.”

The unrest in Tiananmen Square, from April 14 through June 4, 1989, was led by Chinese students and intellectuals. It was put down by force, and thousands were killed.

Bart Keigsers Koning, director of the Christopher Henry Gallery, said the reason the exhibition was great quality of the photographs. Khiang’s photographs are extraordinary.

“It will create dialogue,” he told VOA Khmer. “I think China has changed a lot since then. [The exhibit] is more about, ‘Hey, what a change.’ This happened. How did it happen? Why did it happen? I think it is a story that goes beyond just China, and I think the story that is relevant throughout the ages.”