This photographic exhibition by Charles Fox explores and illustrates the world of the divers who are trying to rid Cambodia’s waterways of the legacy of past conflicts. It has been over 35 years since the end of the Khmer Rouge regime, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 2 million people. Cambodia and its people still suffer from the legacy of that dark time in a variety of ways, including the deadly and hidden threat of abandoned land mines, which still kill or injure more than 100 people every year.
Since the early 1990s, “The Cambodian Mine Action Centre” (CMAC) has been training de-miners and has been responsible for clearing vast areas of Cambodia from the threat of land mines. The huge task has now taken a new direction for CMAC. The group, working in conjunction with the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, has selected a 9-person strong group of de-miners from 40 hopeful volunteers to become Cambodia’s first elite salvage diving unit.
During the early 1970’s ships carrying large stockpiles of explosive ordinance to supply the Khmer Republic were sunk in the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers by the Khmer Rouge and have laid there ever since as well as large ordinance dropped by the American Military during the Vietnam War on Cambodia have also ended up in rivers and lakes.
The selected 9 divers are being trained not only to dive and recover, but are also learning how to do so completely blind in depths of up to 30 meters and against the strong currents of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers. These are hostile conditions, requiring both physical and mental strength and dexterity.
Charles Fox is a British born photographer currently based in Cambodia and has been working in Asia since 2005. He has a degree in Photojournalism from the London College of Communications. Charles is interested in the legacy of conflict and colonialism and how the ruling actions of the past affect today. You can find out more about Charles and his work by visiting www.charles-fox.com