VietNamNet Bridge – The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) opened a photographic exhibition named “Surviving the Peace” by British photojournalist Sean Sutton on Wednesday.
For the occasion, the museum received a collection of file photos called “For a World of Peace” from Mr Sutton and MAG.
Sutton has worked as a photojournalist for the British press as well as development and aid agencies, covering many of the conflicts that have scarred history over the years. He took on the position of MAG’s information manager in April 1997.
For the past 10 years, Sutton has traveled with MAG projects from Kosovo to Sri Lanka and Iraq, Lebanon and Sudan, documenting the humanitarian impact of landmines, unexploded ordnance, small arms and other deadly remnants of conflict, and the solutions that MAG provides.
‘Surviving the Peace’ is a timely reminder of the devastating impact that mines and unexploded ordnance have on many communities across the globe.
The 125 photos on display were taken during the 20 years that Sutton spent in 14 countries like Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia, Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan.
They are here in Ho Chi Minh City to document the impact that armed conflicts have had, and continue to have, on people throughout the world many years after the fighting has stopped.
Equally importantly the exhibition presents an image of hope, humanity and courage rather than a picture of doom and gloom.
Sutton’s work has been exhibited throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and the US, including at the prestigious Visa Pour L’Image International Photojournalism Festival in Pepignon, France and at the Royal Geographical Society in London, where Princess Diana was given a private viewing.
Here is what Sutton said: “I have spent the last 19 years photographing communities in the most impoverished places on earth. The reason for this is to try to make a difference and to show to the public and the decision makers in governments the realities facing these people.
“In so many places after conflict, the explosive remnants – the mines and the bombs – are the biggest problem facing communities trying to rebuild their lives… That’s what this exhibition of photographs is all about. It’s not all about doom and gloom. It’s about hope, humanity and courage”.
It’s the second joint exhibition by the War Remnants Museum and MAG. In 2003, they put on a photographic display named “Mine Remnants in Quang Tri”.
Quang Tri in the central region was the site of MAG’s first operation in Viet Nam, back in 1999. This province encompasses the former DMZ (demilitarized zone), which divided Viet Nam and saw the majority of fighting and bombing during the 1960s and 70s. MAG’s operations were expanded in early 2003 to the adjacent province of Quang Binh.
Much of MAG’s work is mobile explosive ordnance disposal operations, whereby teams systematically work though every village in a commune, clearing all known items of unexploded ordnance and suspect areas.