As we saw him in a restaurant in Siem Reap, he held his camera in his hand, looking through some pictures, joking around with the waiters – in their native language khmer. It looked as he was completely in his own world, but nevertheless he fitted perfectly in the streets of Cambodia.
So we thought that this guy might have a story to tell and after I went over to him I knew he had. His name is George Nickels and he is an english journalist, more precisely a humanitarian photographer, currently living in Cambodia. “I just want to bring a change and somehow I do so.”, he said about his job. He already has been in several war zones, equipped with his camera and a bullet-proof vest in order to take pictures who might draw the attention of the people to these conflicts.
Right now he is in Cambodia as there are some alarming things are going on. There are concerns that the election on the 28th of July have been neither fair nor free. The CPP lost a quarter of their seats in the parliament, but it is not looking like the opposition will ever be able to come into power, while there has not been a change of government since 28 years. Cambodia is one of the corruptest countries in the world as things like landgrab, low wages and no political liberty are the order of the day. So right now they are afraid of civil disturbances, additionally aggravated through delivery of arms from China. (http://gnpj.tumblr.com/post/58043453613/a-cambodian-police-officer-stationed-in-siem-reap)
I did not know what to say, found myself as a tourist who did not know anything about the country I was visiting. I never wanted to be a traveler like that, but there I was standing with no idea about the conflicts in Cambodia and that civil disturbances could start every minute. The days after we noticed all the election and propaganda posters covering the area around Angkor.
When I asked George Nickels why he chose Cambodia to live and not his origin country England, he simply answered that he doesn’t really like english people. Furthermore he really likes Cambodian people, so he decided to move there. “If an Cambodian man has really nothing but a corn of rice, he would even give that to you, because you are his guest.”, he described the cambodian attitude.
Beside war photographing, George Nickels is fighting for the disposal of land mines in Cambodia. “You know, when an european mum tells their children not to cross the fence and they nevertheless do so, it could happen that their knees get hurt. In Cambodia it could happen that they lose their feet due to land mines. This is not nice, I made interviews in a school where a big amount of kids had no feet.” He also complains about the government who spends about 1% of their budget in the disposal of the mines. “I mean they put them there!” he points out.
I didn’t ask George about what he think he might do when he gets old. People like him should not worry about the future or the past. They bother that much about the present that there is no space left for other thoughts. Maybe that needs to be in exactly that way, otherwise future might never change.
Read more about George Nickels: