Land-mine photos document the end of a bitter legacy

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VietNam News English - 36 month(s) ago 7 readings

An exhibition featuring 40 black-and-white images by photographer Sean Sutton documents the work of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG)...

Victim: Nguyen Duc Canh and his daughter Nguyen Thi Thi Uyen in the central province of Quang Binh's Moc Dinh Village. Canh lost his eyes while working as a scrap collector in 2005.

Victim: Nguyen Duc Canh and his daughter Nguyen Thi Thi Uyen in the central province of Quang Binh's Moc Dinh Village. Canh lost his eyes while working as a scrap collector in 2005.

HA NOI — An exhibition featuring 40 black-and-white images by photographer Sean Sutton documents the work of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a humanitarian organisation dedicated to clearing away the remnants of conflict in communities worldwide and which has been disposing of landmines and unexploded ordnance in Viet Nam since 1999.

Sutton has travelled to Viet Nam, Lebanon, Iraq and Sudan to document the impact of landmines, unexploded munitions and other deadly remnants of conflicts on local populations and the solutions that MAG provides.

Entitled Impact for Peace, his exhibition offers visitors a pictorial journey through the effects war has on people and the courageous work of MAG Viet Nam personnel, as well as its positive social and economic impacts.

The exhibition aims to provide an insight into the lives of people still affected by a conflict that ended more than 35 years ago and to show how MAG's work is restoring safety and peace to communities.

"We hold this exhibition for two reasons," said MAG Viet Nam country director Hannah Bryce. "First, we want to raise people's awareness of the danger of unexploded ordnance. And second, which I think it is very important, is to express the positive impacts on removing them out of their lives."

Images depict Ho Dung, who lost his eyesight and his right arm when opening a round metal object he found while grazing his family buffalo; Nguyen Duc Canh, who lost his eyes and injured his arm while collecting scrap; and 15-year-old Nguyen Van Tan, who suffered extensive shrapnel injures and lost several fingers, and damaged his eyes after a cylindrical aluminium object exploded when he was picking it up.

Farmer Nguyen Ngoc Hieu living in the central province of Quang Tri wrote on one poster at the exhibition, "MAG removed the bombs from my farm and plantation. This has allowed me to plant more trees and to safely dig two shrimp ponds and a fish pond."

"Those beautiful photographs are a very vivid expression," said Canadian Mona Abinader, a teacher at Concordia International School. "We can't easily forget such an important thing and should recognise it is a problem. I love portrait of Tran Thi Tam, who still mourns the death of her husband who died while removing the explosives from a bomb in a nearby scrapyard. Looking at the woman's face, I just want to hold her close in my arms and say: ‘I'm sorry'."

The exhibition is at the Maison des Arts Gallery at 31A Van Mieu Street until Sunday. — VNS

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