Accessibility links

Breaking News

Photo Exhibit in Washington Highlights Plight of Cambodia’s Newly Landless

The exhibition is supported by the advocacy group Oxfam.
The exhibition is supported by the advocacy group Oxfam.

WASHINGTON DC - A new exhibition of photography that displays the effects of land grabs in Cambodia is now on display in Washington.

“Cambodia: Losing Ground,” works by photographer Emma Hardy, a regular contributor to New York Times Magazine, shows forced evictions and its effects. The exhibition is supported by the advocacy group Oxfam.

“We know that every two days, an area of land the size of Chicago is bought up by foreign investors in poor countries, and that is forcing many people from their lands and from their livelihoods,” Hannah Stoddart, head of Oxfam America’s economic justice policy team, said at a recent opening for the exhibition.

Many photographs show what life is like for Cambodians after they are evicted, or forcibly relocated to substandard sites outside the capital. In one, a man sleeps in a hammock under a wrecked shack. In another, a woman baths from a cistern in an alley.

“It’s powerful to see the impacts that people feel, in terms of how much their lives are changed, and the hardships that they are going through,” said Vicky Rateau, a campaign manager for Oxfam.

Hiram Smith, a contractor at Department of Labor who attended the exhibition, called the images “moving.”

With land grabs, many people are facing problems ranging from a lack of resources to poor living conditions, narrow spaces and an inability to farm, he said.

Oxfam has been pushing for better protection of people’s land rights, including from the World Bank, whose failed land titling program led to evictions at the Boeung Kak lake area in 2008. Many of the photographs in the exhibition show the effects of that eviction, which was undertaken to make way for a commercial and residential development.

An Oxfam statement called for Cambodians to use smartphones, Twitter and and Facebook to send photos of more effects of evictions, to keep pressure on international policymakers.