TIME animals

As the World Mourns Cecil the Lion, Asia Is Taking Steps to Protect Its Own Big Cats

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OLI SCARFF—AFP/Getty Images A rare Amur Tiger cub, aged four months, plays with its mother Tschuna as it experiences its reserve for the first time at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster, northern England on July 29, 2015.

Populations are recovering in some regions but the animals remain vulnerable to poaching

Asia has been taking stock of its tiger population.

The Bhutan government announced Wednesday—World Tiger Day—that its first-ever national survey revealed a total population of 103 tigers. This represents an increase from the previous estimate of 75, an encouraging sign. Two days earlier, survey results from the Sundarban forests in Bangladesh showed that the tigers there also numbered just over a hundred.

Countries like India, Russia and Nepal have consistently reported higher numbers over the past few years, but Burma, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are yet to conduct reliable and comprehensive censuses, and tigers have all but disappeared from countries like Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

“It really is a sort of North-South divide,” Mike Baltzer, leader of the global tiger program at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said in an interview with TIME. “The countries in Southeast Asia have not quite yet got the levels of investment and commitment specifically to ensure that we’re not going to lose tigers in those countries,” he explains.

The poaching of tigers in Asia remains a perpetual problem—Baltzer says it is “as big a problem as it is in Africa,” but has not seen the kind of sudden surge that the killing of lions, elephants and rhinos has. “Tiger poaching has just been continuously going on and hasn’t spiked like it has in Africa at the moment,” he said. “If there’s a sudden change in the demand patterns in China or Vietnam, the places where there’s a strong demand, we could see the same spike in tigers because many of the countries are really not prepared for an onslaught like we’re seeing in most of Africa.”

Tigers are hunted for their bones, claws and teeth, all of which are used in traditional Asian medicines.

Baltzer remains cautiously optimistic about the future of the world’s tiger population, particularly since Tx2, an initiative to double the global tiger population by 2022, was adopted by the Asian countries five years ago. India has since reported a population increase to 2,226, up from 1,706, while Russia and Nepal are believed to have 540 and 198 tigers respectively.

But the absence of focused government investment and inadequate anti-hunting measures could lead to a rapid unraveling of the tiger population’s recent strides forward.

“We mustn’t take our foot off the pedal,” Baltzer warns.“Any slip could bring us back to that precarious position we were in just a few years ago.”

TIME Cambodia

This Country Just Made It Legal for Cops to Keep 70% of All the Traffic Fines They Collect

A Cambodian traffic police drives a car
Tang Chhin Sothy—AFP/Getty Images A Cambodian traffic police officer drives a car during a ceremony in Phnom Penh on Feb. 14, 2012

Officials do not foresee a rash of spurious fines being handed out as a consequence

Drivers in Cambodia have a lot to contend with: cavernous potholes, weaving motorcycles kicking up clouds of choking dust and noodle hawkers trundling down the “fast” lane. Now motorists may find their pockets as ravaged as their nerves, after officials announced a fivefold bump in traffic fines and gave permission for issuing officers to keep 70% of all cash collected.

The new rules, coming into force in January, are an attempt to curb corruption, reports the Phnom Penh Post. Currently, traffic cops keep half of much smaller penalties, meaning that many supplement their meager salaries by soliciting bribes.

The current $1.25 official penalty for not wearing a car seat belt, for example, will rise to $6.25, with the officer allowed to keep $4.38. Of the remaining 30%, some 25% will go to the station where the officer is based, with the final 5% sent to the Ministry of Finance.

“We plan to issue an edict in the future to encourage and promote this measure,” Ti Long, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s Public Order Department, said at a press conference on Monday.

Local road-safety analyst Chariya Ear, for one, applauded the move. “It will be a good idea to give more incentives to the officers who are doing their jobs,” he told the Post.

However, not all drivers agree, fearing that, in a nation ranked 156 out of 175 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, officers will hand out spurious punishments to feather their nests.

Phnom Penh resident Gary Morrison, 49, says he already pays traffic fines on a regular basis, ostensibly for “being a foreigner,” even though he has all the correct documentation for his vehicle. “So,” he says sardonically, “it’s nice to know they are encouraging the police to fine me even more.”

TIME Photojournalism Links

The 10 Best Photo Essays of the Month

A compilation of the 10 most interesting photo essays published online in May, as curated by Mikko Takkunen

This month’s Photojournalism Links collection highlights 10 excellent photo essays from across the world, including Stephanie Sinclair’s compelling National Geographic photo essay on young Newari girls in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley who are worshipped as living goddesses.

Stephanie Sinclair: Living Goddesses of Nepal (National Geographic)

Daniel Berehulak: Caught in Nepal’s Earthquakes (The New York Times Lens blog) Powerful images by a photographer who just received a Pulitzer Prize for his Ebola coverage.

James Nachtwey: Nepal Pt1. | Pt. 2 (TIME LightBox) Two sets of pictures and text by the TIME contract photographer, who spent two weeks covering the quake’s aftermath.

Carolyn Drake: Sins of the Aral Sea (National Geographic) Photo essay highlights the current state of the vast inland sea that is now 90 percent gone.

Kirsten Luce: The Corridor of Death: Along America’s Second Border (TIME LightBox) Luce continues her strong documentation of the US-Mexico border.

Lynn Johnson: High Science (National Geographic) The magazine’s veteran documents the issues surrounding marijuana’s potential benefits and drawbacks.

Bryan Denton: Disabled and Facing More Challenges in Afghanistan (The New York Times) These pictures capture the struggles of injured Afghan soldiers and policemen.

Adam Ferguson: Cambodia’s Child Grooms (Al Jazeera America) Early marriage is on the increase in the country’s highlands.

Jerome Delay: Mob Attacks Suspected Militia Member in Burundi (NBC News) Dramatic sequence from Burundi’s capital by AP’s Africa chief photographer. Delay was also interviewed on TIME LightBox.

Alessio Romenzi: Gambling for a better life across the Mediterranean (Al Jazeera English) These pictures document the crowded conditions faced by migrants held in Libya’s detention centers.

TIME Australia

Australia Is Trying to Get Refugees to Resettle in Cambodia and Unsurprisingly They Refuse to Go

A banner fixed to a fence on Anibare Lodge, the main camp for refugee families on Nauru, reads "Cambodia, never, ever," March 7, 2015.
Courtesy of Refugee Action Coalition A banner fixed to a fence on Anibare Lodge, the main camp for refugee families on Nauru, reads "Cambodia, never, ever," on March 7, 2015

Many refugees have fled poor countries with a record of human-rights abuses, and have no interest in being resettled in another one

Some 750 asylum seekers living in Australian government detention on the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru face an impossible choice. They can stay on Nauru in squalid conditions. Or they can be resettled, of all places, in impoverished Cambodia — a country with a long record of human-rights abuses, where refugees are discriminated against and the chances of finding work are slim.

At first glance, it would appear that anybody would give anything to leave Nauru. About 200 refugees whose asylum claims have been processed live in small clusters of houses dotted around the island. But those awaiting a decision on their claims are kept in two detention centers, one for single men and another that houses families. There, people who’ve fled war and persecution in countries like Syria, Somalia, Burma, Sri Lanka and Iran sleep in sweltering and cramped plastic tents with little ventilation. They have limited communication with the outside world and many spend their days in fear and despair.

Pamela Curr, a refugee-rights advocate for over a decade, is the campaign coordinator for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, a Melbourne-based organization that provides health, food, aid, legal and counseling programs to asylum seekers in Australia. Curr was told by a female inmate in Nauru of an 8-year-old boy living in the detention center, who had become withdrawn and refused to leave his mother’s side, even to go to school. When his mother asked him to “draw something for me, anything you like,” he burst into tears and drew a Nauruan guard with an erect penis.

Women are also reportedly preyed upon in the camp, too afraid to even visit the toilets. “We wet ourselves because the guards stand around the toilets at night and we’re terrified we’ll get raped,” one woman told Curr.

To add to their distress, just last week the Nauran government blocked access to Facebook on the island, in what it said was an attempt to crack down on Internet pornography. Now, the refugees and asylum seekers who used the social-media site as a lifeline to contact loved ones must rely on expensive and unreliable pay phones.

Resettlement in Australia is not an option for any of the inmates on Nauru. Canberra has repeatedly vowed that no asylum seeker attempting to reach its shores by sea will settle there.

“You will not under any circumstances be settling in Australia. This is not an option that the Australian government will ever present to you,” Australia’s Minister for Immigration and Border Affairs Peter Dutton said in a video address, obtained by the Guardian two weeks ago.

With all of that being the case, the Australian government probably thought, when it made a resettlement pact with Cambodia last September, that the detainees on Nauru would jump at the chance of an onward journey. Under the deal, Cambodia would resettle an unlimited number of asylum seekers from Nauru in exchange for $31 million and the assurance that Australia would fund the resettlement process for at least one year.

Those who sign up to go are promised long-term support in the areas of work, education and health care. But immigration officials are struggling to find volunteers among the island’s refugees to be on the first Cambodia-bound plane, which could depart this week.

Last Friday, about 200 refugees demonstrated in the eastern Ijuw camp on Nauru against relocation to Cambodia. They held up banners with slogans calling for justice and chanted “Cambodia, never ever.”

Australian officials are reportedly offering incentives of nearly $12,000 to any asylum seeker that will step aboard, and are offering to fast-track asylum claims for refugees who agree to go, according to Ian Rintoul, coordinator for a Sydney-based refugee-campaign group, Refugee Action Coalition.

“An Iranian couple, the latest to agree to be transferred, have almost certainly had their refugee determination fast-tracked. They were determined to be refugees only five days ago,” he said in a statement last Wednesday.

Refugees have been warned that if they are not among the first to be resettled, they may not be guaranteed the same financial help if they decide to go at a later date, a caution repeated by Dutton in his video address.

“Our concern is without advice, people may be lured into accepting the offer because it may seem to them the only way to get a refugee visa is to accept the money,” Rintoul tells TIME.

In the video, reportedly shown to Nauru asylum seekers two weeks ago, Dutton implored those in detention to take up the resettlement offer, saying: “Cambodia provides a wealth of opportunity for new settlers, it is a fast-paced and vibrant country with a stable economy and varied employment opportunities.”

DigitalGlobe/ScapeWare/Getty Images This is a closeup satellite image of the Topside detention camp in Nauru taken on July 24, 2013

However, international and local advocacy groups, as well as opposition lawmakers in Australia and Cambodia, have slammed the resettlement plan as a violation of refugee rights and condemn the government for sending vulnerable people to a country that struggles to take care of its own citizens.

“While the Australian government tries to market the Cambodia deal as being about constructive burden-sharing, it’s really about destructive burden-shifting,” Daniel Webb, director of legal advocacy for the Human Rights Law Centre in Melbourne, tells TIME.

Phil Robertson, deputy director for Human Rights Watch in Asia, says, “Far from a tropical democratic paradise, the reality is that Cambodia is a struggling economy with ineffective law enforcement where its own citizens face corruption, repression and violence on a regular basis.”

In what appear to be fact sheets, reportedly distributed by Australian officials among some of the asylum seekers on Nauru last month, the Australian government states that Khmer citizens enjoy the “freedoms of a democratic society including freedom of religion and freedom of speech.” Canberra also promises that refugees will start a new life “free from persecution and violence” and says Cambodia offers “jobs for migrants and strong support networks for newly settled refugees.”

But in reality, Cambodia is extremely poor, with 17% of its population living in poverty and thousands of its citizens forced to seek work in neighboring Thailand as migrant laborers. Though the country has undergone rapid development in the past decade, services like health care are woefully lacking and not up to international standards.

Cambodia also has a grim record of human-rights abuses of its own citizens and the government has been known to stifle peaceful protests and detain opposition activists. In November 2014, 10 women were jailed merely for protesting against flooding in their community.

The existing 75 registered refugees already living in Cambodia have also struggled to find work. They face extortion and discrimination and “live below the poverty line, below the fringes of society,” says Graeme McGregor, refugee-campaign coordinator for Amnesty International in Australia.

Among the refugees in Cambodia are people from nearby Burma, Sri Lanka and neighboring Vietnam. According to Human Rights Watch, though they have refugee documentation enabling them to stay in the country, their papers are not recognized by many employers and they face legal barriers when opening bank accounts.

Without a grasp of the Khmer language, the refugees have struggled to enter the job market and many live hand-to-mouth, relying on organizations like the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) and other nonprofits for school supplies, tuition fees and health insurance.

“This is a corrupt country. You will not find jobs. We have been here more than two years and we have no money and not enough to eat. It’s better to wait in Nauru,” one refugee told Human Rights Watch.

Cambodia also has a track record of sending refugees back to the places from which they have fled. In 2009, 20 Uighur asylum seekers were deported to China, where they were arrested and jailed. And in the past four months, Cambodia has forcibly deported 54 ethnic Jarai and E De people (also known as Montaganards) back to Vietnam.

Incredulously, Australia’s own guidance to its citizens on Cambodia, published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, contradicts much of what the government is saying to refugees on Nauru.

Despite this, the government blames “troublemakers within the asylum-seeker community” on Nauru for turning others against going. That’s according to an interview conducted by Dutton with the U.K.’s Sky News on April 26.

When asked by TIME to comment on the issues raised in this article, the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection issued a generic statement saying: “The Australian Government remains committed to that agreement [with Cambodia] and the first group of volunteers is anticipated to depart for Cambodia in the near future.”

At Cambodia’s request, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) will help with the resettlement process alongside other aid agencies in the country, providing the refugees with temporary accommodation and long-term help with finding work and learning the language. The IOM agreed to assist after Phnom Penh promised to grant all existing and arriving refugees the right to live and work anywhere in the country, the right to family reunions, long-term funding for the program and fair treatment for all refugees.

While the conditions offer some assurance that life for refugees may improve in Cambodia, it is understandable that those people on Nauru, who have fled persecution and war, and who have endured smuggling and perilous boat journeys, are fearful of being dropped in an unknown country to start anew, especially when they sense they are not being given the full picture about what awaits them.

“Australia is once again violating obligations under international law as the refugee convention requires asylum seekers to be processed and resettled in Australia,” says McGregor, adding, “Their safety isn’t guaranteed right now in Cambodia.”

So far, just four people from Nauru have signed up to the offer, including an Iranian couple, an ethnic Rohingya man from Burma, and another Iranian man. Australia hopes that once they settle into their new life in Cambodia, they will encourage others to join them. But right now, Cambodia is looking even less attractive than a crushingly monotonous life in a bunch of flyblown tents somewhere in the Pacific.

TIME conflict

Why It Took So Long for the World to See How Phnom Penh Fell

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Sjoberg / AFP / Getty Images The young Khmer Rouge guerrilla soldiers enter Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975

The Khmer Rouge took the Cambodian capital 40 years ago

When the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian Communist forces, seized the nation’s capital of Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, it was no surprise. In the years since the nation had been drawn into fighting in the region, the insurgents had continued to gain power. With the end of the U.S.’s involvement on the horizon—that would come before the month was up—it seemed clear that Phnom Penh would fall sooner or later.

In fact, as TIME reported in the days after April 17, the very leaders who had pledged never to stop fighting seemed to know that there was no point in a last stand. The surrender of the Khmer Republic to the Khmer Rouge was, the magazine noted, the first time a capital city had fallen to Communist forces since Seoul in the early 1950s.

But, even though the regime change was no surprise, the world watched with apprehension to see what the nation’s new rulers would do. In that initial report, TIME noted that at first “there was none of the carnage that some government officials had predicted”—one of the main fears was that widespread retribution would be exacted—even though “there were, to be sure, some ominous notes.”

A few weeks later, it became clear that those fears were not misplaced. “The curtain of silence that has concealed Cambodia from Western eyes ever since the Khmer Rouge capture of Phnom-Penh on April 17 opened briefly last week, revealing a shocking portrait of a nation in torturous upheaval,” TIME reported. “Eyewitness reports by the few Western journalists who stayed on in the Cambodian capital after the closing down of the American embassy indicated that the country’s new Communist masters have proved to be far more ruthless, if not more cruel and sadistic in their exercise of power than most Western experts had expected.”

Those eyewitness reports, as relayed by TIME, told a tale of Phnom Penh (stylized with a hyphen at the time) being emptied of its inhabitants, as urban Cambodians were forcibly relocated to grow rice in the countryside, despite the fact that there would be no rice harvest for months and there was no other plan to feed them. Foreigners who took refuge in the French embassy were stuck inside the compound, with no running water, for nearly two weeks. Cambodians among them—many married to the foreign citizens—were removed from the group before the outsiders were driven by truck to the Thai border and allowed to walk across.

The journalists among the roughly 1,000 people who escaped in that way agreed to hold their stories until everyone who would be allowed to leave was out, but by mid-May they told what they had seen.

In the years that followed, the details, as they emerged, only got more harrowing.

In 1978, David Aikman, who had been a TIME correspondent who left Cambodia mere days before Phnom Penh fell, wrote in an essay that what had happened in Cambodia since that day was “perhaps the most dreadful infliction of suffering on a nation by its government in the past three decades”:

On the morning of April 17, 1975, advance units of Cambodia’s Communist insurgents, who had been actively fighting the defeated Western-backed government of Marshal Lon Nol for nearly five years, began entering the capital of Phnom Penh. The Khmer Rouge looted things, such as watches and cameras, but they did not go on a rampage. They seemed disciplined. And at first, there was general jubilation among the city’s terrified, exhausted and bewildered inhabitants. After all, the civil war seemed finally over, the Americans had gone, and order, everyone seemed to assume, would soon be graciously restored.

Then came the shock. After a few hours, the black-uniformed troops began firing into the air. It was a signal for Phnom Penh’s entire population, swollen by refugees to some 3 million, to abandon the city. Young and old, the well and the sick, businessmen and beggars, were all ordered at gunpoint onto the streets and highways leading into the countryside.

…The survivors were settled in villages and agricultural communes all around Cambodia and were put to work for frantic 16-or 17-hour days, planting rice and building an enormous new irrigation system. Many died from dysentery or malaria, others from malnutrition, having been forced to survive on a condensed-milk can of rice every two days. Still others were taken away at night by Khmer Rouge guards to be shot or bludgeoned to death. The lowest estimate of the bloodbath to date–by execution, starvation and disease–is in the hundreds of thousands. The highest exceeds 1 million, and that in a country that once numbered no more than 7 million. Moreover, the killing continues, according to the latest refugees.

Aikman’s essay confirmed that news of what was happening in Cambodia had reached the rest of the world, without a doubt—but, he wrote, the response confirmed that somehow knowing the truth didn’t mean believing it and responding appropriately. “In the West today, there is a pervasive consent to the notion of moral relativism, a reluctance to admit that absolute evil can and does exist,” he wrote. “This makes it especially difficult for some to accept the fact that the Cambodian experience is something far worse than a revolutionary aberration. Rather, it is the deadly logical consequence of an atheistic, man-centered system of values, enforced by fallible human beings with total power, who believe, with Marx, that morality is whatever the powerful define it to be and, with Mao, that power grows from gun barrels.”

Read the full 1978 essay, here in the TIME Vault: An Experiment in Genocide

TIME Cambodia

Cambodian Orphans Yearn for Answers 40 Years After Fleeing the Khmer Rouge

Young Cambodian child at a hospital in Phnom Penh, in March 1975.
Francoise Demulder—AFP/Getty Images Young Cambodian child at a hospital in Phnom Penh, in March 1975.

A daring orphan lift spared scores from the savage communist clique, but left children with no ties home

Here are the things Miika Thoeun Gove knows about her Cambodian origins: a woman claiming to be her grandmother said she couldn’t take care of her. An orphanage took her in. The U.S. embassy arranged for an airlift to California.

By the time the Khmer Rouge took control of Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, Miika had been safely shuttled out, but her identity remained trapped inside. In Cambodia, Pol Pot’s brutal regime set about systematically dismantling all existing systems — killing an estimated 1.7 million people in pursuit of a harebrained “year zero” agrarian utopia. In the process families, institutions and records were obliterated amid one of the worst genocides of the 20th century. In the U.S., doctors estimated Miika’s age by looking at her teeth; new parents assigned a birth date, they gave her a name.

“I don’t know how it worked, there’s virtually no details other than [me] arriving,” she tells TIME. “I don’t even know if that’s the true story.”

Forty years ago this and last month, a series of planes flew into Phnom Penh’s besieged Pochentong airport on a special sortie. The Fighting Tigers at the controls dove down into the tarmac to avoid Khmer Rouge gunfire and — barely cutting the engines — pulled up alongside cargo trucks. With little ceremony, those in the truck began to load the plane with box after box of babies.

“As this telegram is being dispatched,” read a U.S. embassy cable sent just hours after a March 17 airlift, “the orphans are not the only ones heaving a king size sigh of relief.”

At the time of the evacuations, the U.S.-backed Khmer Republic had all but crumbled under the weight of incompetence and corruption, while large-scale American bombing of the countryside sent hundreds of thousands fleeing to Phnom Penh for safety. Desperate parents — starving and fearing for their lives — overwhelmed the state-run orphanage; the babies would not stop coming.

Canadian sisters Eloise and Anna Charet arrived in the country just months before the fall to open a private orphanage, called Canada House. Eloise recalled taking babies and toddlers from a room in the state orphanage, “where the children were just left on mats and were left to die. The ants were crawling on them, the flies all around their eyes and mouth … the only thing you could see was the flickering of their eyes once in a while and this room was just packed with children left to die, they didn’t know what to do.”

On March 17, the sisters successfully evacuated all 43 of their charges — an unlikely feat that allowed for scores more to be pulled out in the following weeks by various private agencies and individuals. Most of the Cambodian children were initially sent to war-torn Saigon where they were thrown in with more than 3,000 Vietnamese children to be airlifted out to the U.S., Europe and Australia in the audacious and controversial “Operation Babylift.”

As the situation in Cambodia deteriorated, its envoys in Washington, D.C., begged the U.S. for assistance and arranged for a final group of 220 orphans to be pulled out and adopted. In Phnom Penh, the Minister for Refugees scrambled to process the children. On April 9, 28 flew out. They were to be the last.

“I messaged [Refugee Minister] Kong Orn … about the orphans’ situation. I also messaged other officials. But there was no answer from anyone. Clearly the subject of orphans was not on anyone’s mind at the time,” says Gaffar Peang-Meth, a diplomat based at the Cambodian embassy.

The chaos surrounding those final flights ensured that many orphans arrived with only the scantest of documentation. In a July 1975 internal report, the U.S. Agency for International Development recorded that half of the 108 orphans airlifted out of Phnom Penh “are experiencing legal problems regarding their adoptability and/or placements.”

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Sjoberg / AFP / Getty ImagesThe young Khmer Rouge guerrilla soldiers enter Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975

“The placement of the orphans … in adoptive homes has been held up because of questions raised regarding their adoptability and/or prospective placement. Due to the emergency situation which existed at the time, the sponsoring agencies and the government did not obtain the proper releases or process other required documentation,” the report continued.

In California and elsewhere, lawsuits proliferated over whether the children were in fact orphans. Miika and scores of other children spent upwards of a year in foster homes while officials debated their status. Four decades later, some have yet to be naturalized.

“The children’s arrival was not all smooth and happy,” recalls Gaffar Peang-Meth, who became the point man for verifying many of their legal status. Some news media reports suggested that the children were not all orphans and openly questioned why they had been brought to the U.S. Gaffar Peang-Meth responded that there was no authority in Phnom Penh to answer such allegations.

Amid the mounting concern, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) ordered a temporary halt to the babylifts on April 16, just one day before the Khmer Rouge seized Phnom Penh. Then deputy commissioner of the INS, James Green, told the Washington Post that the agency would “launch a full investigation to determine what these children’s backgrounds are and how they got into the United States.”

By then, of course, the lines of communication had already been severed. With it went any hope of tracking down family ties.

Adoptees grew up oblivious to their roots, yet haunted by them.

“No matter how you grow up childhood always challenging, but not really having a mental foundation of how it started, that’s really challenging,” says Miika Thoeun Gove. “I can’t even reach out to anyone in the group that I flew out with, I have no information.”

A handful of the orphans have returned to Cambodia in search of more information, though such quests tend to be fruitless.

Kim Routhier-Filion, one of the Canada House babies, traveled to Cambodia in 2012 accompanied by Eloise and Anna Charet, and a film crew from the French-Canadian news station RDI. While there, the filmmakers captured Routhier-Filion looking through records and speaking with archivists, but he confessed scant faith in reconciliation.

“For me, my adoptive parents are my real parents,” he said. “I didn’t have any expectations of finding my biological parents in Cambodia. I assume they got killed. I don’t even know my biological mom’s name. I didn’t have any hope or expectations of that.”

Gove, whose documents carry neither the name of her parents nor birthplace, has similarly little anticipation of closure. It is something, however, she has come to accept.

“Imagine the children who didn’t get out of there,” she points out calmly. “I figure I’m doing O.K.”

TIME photography

Bearing Witness to the Legacy of War

Photographer Giles Duley, who lost three limbs in Afghanistan, speaks about his new project

In 2011, photographer Giles Duley began a project that would document the lasting effects of war on people living in cities and towns across the globe where the fighting had ended many years, even decades ago.

That year, while patrolling in Afghanistan with American troops, Duley stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device. The blast nearly took his life; he lost both legs and an arm. After a year in the hospital and nearly 30 operations, Duley returned to photography with a new determination to finish his project, which he calls Legacy of War. The project encompasses 14 countries and comprises photographs, original poetry and music.

Last month, he launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project, which you can contribute to here. Below, TIME Multimedia Editor Mia Tramz caught up with Duley as he continued his work on the project from Cambodia.

TIME LightBox: What’s the scope of the project and the idea behind it?

Giles Duley: The idea came to me I guess four or five years ago. A lot of my work has been documenting the effects of conflict over the years. One of the things I noticed was that there was a lot of commonality between the stories that I heard, and so I became interested in trying to bring all these different stories together. I was actually going to Afghanistan to start the project when I got injured, so I thought it would never actually happen. My plan was if I could get working again, I would return to doing this project.

The thing that really strikes me is that a war doesn’t end when a peace treaty is signed. In school, as you’re growing up, you’re always taught about the dates of a particular conflict. And I was interested [by] what happens after this final date; what happens when the conflict is supposedly finished. Because what I’ve experienced in my work was that the war is not over if people are still dying from it, if they’re still injured, if their lives are still impaired by it.

My idea was to try and bring together stories from approximately 14 countries, showing various themes that kind of crop up in post-conflict countries. That might be land contamination from land mines, from UXOs and it might be the effects of things like Agent Orange or depleted uranium. But it’s also looking at the physical effects on people who are living with injuries, and people living with the psychological trauma of conflict. I wanted to bring all these different stories together and just get people to reflect on the fact that conflict doesn’t end when a peace treaty is signed.

TIME LightBox: Which countries will you be covering and how did you choose them?

Giles Duley: One of the things I kind of want to do is to bring together stories that may be a little bit more familiar to us with stories that are less familiar. Hopefully, by bringing them together, you get to understand the similarities. In the United States, I wanted to look at the effects of trauma on former combatants, especially soldiers from [the] Vietnam War, how their lives have been affected. The same in the U.K. looking at injured servicemen and [those] with PTSD. Then it’s countries like Vietnam with Agent Orange and UXO; Cambodia, Colombia, Laos and other countries like it by land mines. I’ll be doing stories in Angola, which has a huge legacy of war; in Congo or the DRC, I’ll be looking at the effects of sexual abuse in both men and women. In Northern Ireland, I’m looking at the effects of the troubles, [which have] caused poverty and other social issues.

Other countries [will include] Gaza, [where] I’ll be looking at the long-term effects of conflict there. I’ve already done a story on the refugees in Lebanon, a country which really had two tiers of refugees from war. I’ll be looking at refugees in Sahel Sahara. It’s a vast cross-section of stories.

TIME LightBox: How did you arrive at the aesthetic for this project?

Giles Duley: I actually decided to use film for this project — a mixture of 35 mm and medium format. The main reason for film is that I wanted the images to both have a timeless feel and to serve as documents. Many of the photographs will reflect the period when the conflict happened and at the same time, a print made from a negative has a sense of true documentation. In a period when many question the role of Photoshop and other manipulation in documentary photography, I wanted to return to a simpler process.

TIME LightBox: Outside of the photography, what other components are you working into the project?

Giles Duley: I want this to be more than just a set of photographs. As a child, I was really influenced by the poets of the First World War and the black-and-white photographs covering the Vietnam War. They were the two things that really changed my opinion as a very young teenager about conflict. I grew up as a kid [thinking] that I wanted to join the army. I was fascinated by military history. But as I say, it was reading this poetry of people like Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and looking at the photographs of people like Don McCullin that really galvanized something in me, that made me realize the true consequences of war.

I’m very interested in the educational component. I realized that schools are still studying poetry from the First World War. So what I want to do is update that and get poets and musicians writing about current conflicts and their long-term consequences. For me as a photographer, I hope that the poetry and the music will add a different dimension to the work, so that it’s more accessible to people.

TIME LightBox: What’s your process working with these musicians and poets? Are they seeing the photographs you’re making from those particular parts of the world, or are they just writing or creating from their own experiences, or a mix of both?

Giles Duley: Anybody that’s working with me on this project will either be traveling with me at a later stage in the project, or it will be a process of me meeting them, showing them the photographs, and probably most importantly sharing the testimonies of the people who are photographed.

TIME LightBox: What has surprised you most since you started working on this project about what you’re finding?

Giles Duley: I don’t know if it surprised me, but what I’m becoming very aware of is just the enormity of how conflict affects life. [For example], in Vietnam, Laos and Lebanon and Cambodia — you start to look at one story, and immediately that opens up 10 other stories. It’s often in less expected ways or [something] you just don’t think about. Some of the stories are more obvious, like land mines, etc. But when you look at the long-term impact of a child that was born to a woman who was raped, that is a real legacy of war. And they live with that legacy for all of their lives — the psychological trauma of people affected by war is something that is not often talked about or documented, but whole generations of civilians have been traumatized by conflict.

TIME LightBox: Can you talk about where you see the project living when it’s finished and in what form?

Giles Duley: This is a project that has four phases. The first phase is the photographic phase, which is to go out there and document the initial stories. The second phase is to work with poets and musicians to give more depth to the stories. The third phase is then looking at how that body of work comes together through exhibitions and a book. For me that stage is very important because the exhibitions have to be in public spaces. They have to be in places where people interact with these stories who wouldn’t normally go to a photographic gallery.

And I’m also very interested in taking the project back to the countries that I’ve photographed. One of the things that most surprised me is how interested people are in the other countries I’m photographing. People in Northern Ireland are asking me about the people in Rwanda. The people in Vietnam are very interested in stories that I’m going to be doing in Angola, for example.

One of the key elements is, as well as having the photographs exhibited in the public spaces in Western countries, it’s for the exhibitions to return to the countries where these stories first came from, so the stories are shared. Because that’s what it’s all about. It’s about sharing stories. I have no judgments, I have no opinions. I’m merely going out there to try and gather the stories of people affected by conflict and to share those stories.

And then the final stage, the fourth stage, will be educational. And that’s about taking it to schools. It’s about getting it on the curriculum, [so that when] people are taught the historical facts of a conflict, they’re also taught about how a conflict continues to affect people [long after it’s over]. That’s how I see it developing. And hopefully, in the end, it will be something that will kind of take on a life of its own and I can step back and people can continue to share these stories.

TIME LightBox: Your story is also woven into this. How has your experience informed your approach to this project and how it has been integrated into it?

Giles Duley: No matter what I choose to do for the rest of my life, I will live with the scars, both physically and mentally of what happened. So it’s given me a great understanding. But I think more than that it’s kind of focused my ambition and determination to carry this project through because, as I say, every day now I live with a reminder of what conflict does.

It has opened up communication with a lot of people that may have been more suspicious of why I was doing this story; people who see my personal experience and can relate to it. I guess weirdly, although I may be a lot slower as a photographer now and it may be a bit harder for me to work, there’s probably not a photographer in a better position to actually tell these specific stories about the legacy of war.

TIME LightBox: What do you see as the biggest challenges in getting this project done?

Giles Duley: The biggest challenges on a personal level are the travel, the work. I have no legs and I’ve got one hand, and I travel on my own to do this work. It’s not easy. I must admit last year when I found myself in paddy fields in the rainy season in Laos, trying to carry all my cameras and a backpack and my legs getting stuck in the mud, I was thinking, “O.K., who came up with this idea?” [Laughs.] So the obvious challenges like that are there, that in a weird way as I say, also drive me on to complete the story.

Aside from that, obviously this is a project that I’m self-funding. It’s something that I think is important. A lot of NGOs and nonprofits and charities are helping me with the stories. I have years and years of working with NGOs and they’ve been fantastic in supporting this project. So the likes of MAG, which is a de-mining charity; Handicap International; UNHCR; Emergency, which is an Italian NGO; and Find a Better Way, which is another land-mine charity, have all been supporting it. But at the end of the day, I have to find a way to finance these stories, or at least finance the physical costs of the photographic side of it.

The project really I think for me is the defining project of my life. It will probably be the last major overseas project I do because it’s simply so physically draining and difficult for me. But I am determined to carry this out to the utmost of my ability.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Giles Duley is a freelance photographer and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. Follow him on Twitter @gilesduley.

Mia Tramz is a Multimedia Editor for TIME.com. Follow her on Twitter @miatramz.

TIME Asia

Seven Out of 10 Kids Across Five Asian Nations Experienced Violence at School

Indonesia reported the worst rate of school violence, with 84% of children having experienced it

Seven out of 10 children in Asia have experienced violence in school, a study of over 9,000 students across five countries revealed.

Conducted by children’s-rights group Plan under its Promoting Equality and Safety in Schools initiative, the study collected data from male and female students ages 12 to 17, as well as others involved in their education like parents, teachers and headmasters, in Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Nepal.

The study has several disturbing implications, with emotional violence being the most prevalent form of school harassment, followed by physical violence. More boys reported facing physical violence than girls did, and regressive gender attitudes are a significant contributor to school violence overall.

Indonesia showed the highest rate of gender-based violence in schools out of the five countries surveyed, with 84% of students having experienced violence, while Pakistan had the lowest at 43%. “Even the bottom end of the scale — 43% in Pakistan — is unacceptable,” said Mark Pierce, Plan’s Asia regional director.

The prevalence of the problem in the Southeast Asian nation is illustrated by shocking videos uploaded to YouTube, like the one below that shows a girl at a primary school in West Sumatra’s Bukittinggi being kicked and beaten by her classmates.

Another video, uploaded as recently as last month, shows another girl being held in a choke hold by a male peer while another jumps in and out of the frame to punch her and make suggestive motions — culminating in an all-out brawl.

Several other causes and factors contributing to school violence — perpetrated by both peers and authority figures — exist even within the limited scope of the study, such as students’ lack of trust in existing reporting mechanisms, traditional and cultural norms, and a low rate of intervention by observers.

With reporting by Yenni Kwok

TIME Cambodia

Witness Describes Khmer Rouge’s Gruesome Torture During Genocide Trial

CAMBODIA-UN-TRIAL-GENOCIDE
Tang Chhin Sothy—AFP/Getty Images Cambodian and international journalists watch a live video feed showing former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan during a hearing for his trial at the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia in Phnom Penh on Jan. 8, 2015

Former detainee recounts savage torture episodes committed by communist cadres

Khmer Rouge security officials used acid and pliers to torture inmates and disemboweled a detainee and consumed her organs, according to witness testimony given in Phnom Penh this week.

On Monday, former prisoner Keo Chandara told the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) — a tribunal created to investigate the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge — that guards used pliers and acid to torture female detainees incarcerated at the Kraing Tachan security center.

According to his testimony, prison guards at the facility would use the pliers to lacerate the inmates before pouring acid into the wounds. If the detainees passed out due to the excessive pain, the overseers would then use water to revive them.

“About 10 prisoners who were ordered to sit and watch the torture,” said Keo Chandara, reports the Cambodia Daily.

During one particularly gruesome episode, Keo Chandara said the guards hanged one prisoner by a hook through her mouth and then cut out her heart, gall bladder and liver after she was unable to answer questions during an interrogation session.

“One of them asked that the liver be fried and the gall bladder kept for him,” Keo Chandara told the court, according to the broadcaster Voice of America.

The Chinese-backed cadres took the extremities of central planning to new heights during their reign over the kingdom from 1975 to 1979. Cities were evacuated, intellectuals and members of the middle class were executed and currency abolished as the communists launched their ill-fated collectivist reforms that led to mass starvation and wanton savagery.

Approximately 1.7 million people — a quarter of the national population — are believed to have died under Khmer Rouge rule.

Vietnamese forces eventually dislodged the Khmer Rouge from power in 1979; however, guerrilla bands loyal to the outfit continued to battle the central government into the late 1990s.

The ECCC is currently investigating genocide charges against two of the Khmer Rouge’s last surviving top cadres, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, who were sentenced to life in prison for committing crimes against humanity last year.

TIME Cambodia

Cambodian Guards Drank Wine With Human Gallbladders, Says Genocide Survivor

Skulls are stacked on top of each other at a "Killing Fields" memorial in Batey district in Kampong Cham province
Chor Sokunthea—Reuters Skulls are stacked on top of each other at a Killing Fields memorial in Batey district in Kampong Cham province, 125 km (78 miles) east of Phnom Penh on March 28, 2009

Horrific testimony made at atrocity trial

In the 1970s, Khmer Rouge guards would drink wine infused with human gallbladders, according to a survivor of Cambodia’s infamous Killing Fields.

Former detainee Meas Sokha told the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia Khmer Rouge (ECCC) — a special tribunal created to investigate the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime — that guards at a prison in Takeo province would dry out the gallbladders of inmates and steep them in wine, reports the Cambodia Daily.

“Whenever there were killings, the guards would drink wine with a gallbladder. I could see gallbladders drying in the sun and I knew these were from human beings,” said Meas Sokha, who was imprisoned for three years in 1976. “There were so many [gallbladders] dried by the fence, it was put in wine for drinking and to make people brave.”

Sokha also told the U.N.-backed ECCC that he witnessed between 20 and 100 killings in a single day.

In some East Asian medical traditions, the use of animal bile in drinks — usually snake or bear bile — is thought to promote virility.

From 1975 until 1979, Cambodia experienced one of the most savage genocides of the 20th century, during which around 1.7 million people — a quarter of the national population — perished as the Khmer Rouge, the nation’s communist party led by the French-educated Pol Pot, pursued its agrarian utopia.

The court is currently investigating genocide charges against Khieu Samphan, 83, the regime’s head of state, and Nuon Chea, 88. Both were sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity in August.

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