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tv   Our World  BBC News  May 15, 2022 9:30pm-10:01pm BST

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hello, this is bbc news. the headlines. sweden's ruling social democrats have backed the country joining nato. it's after finland also confirmed it will apply for nato membership, in response to russia's invasion of ukraine. their membership in nato would increase our shared security, demonstrate that nato�*s door is open, and that aggression does not pay. a british military intelligence assessment suggests russia may have lost a third of its ground forces since the start of its invasion of ukraine. president biden says america must do all it can to end hate—filled domestic terrorism after ten people are killed in a shooting in buffalo. the uk government says it
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wouldn't be deterred from taking action over post—brexit trading arrangements in northern ireland to try to help restore power—sharing at stormont. now on bbc news, our world. for decades, temples across cambodia were looted and their treasures stolen and sold abroad, but now the cambodian government wants them back. temples across cambodia have been looted, their ancient treasures torn away. wow, 0k. i've got exclusive access to the sites they were stolen from, and speak to the temple raiders who did the looting. this one? for many cambodians, these cultures are much more than just stone objects.
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now cambodia is fighting back, demanding that some of the biggest museums in the world return their antiquities. these museums and these individuals are in receipt of stolen property, and the stolen property needs to come back. angkor wat is the beating heart of cambodia. this temple has been in continuous use for over 900 years.
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cambodia is one of the poorest countries in asia, but many will spend what little they have to come here. everyone, it's believed, has to make the journey to this complex at least once. but even though angkor wat is central to this population's identity, many of its greatest treasures are gone. so, this is a contrast you will see repeated over and over again in cambodia's most famous temple. here's a carving dating back to the 12th century in perfect condition, but, just one pillar over, this carving has been completely removed by looters and we simply don't know where it's gone. i mean, look at these bits. the head's been taken off, a hands been taken off, fingers are gone. on this one, i mean, it's just been lopped off right at the top. i mean, you canjust imagine
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a looter would cut that, take it, smuggle it across a border, probably into thailand, and then on into some auction house. we simply don't know where this has gone. the same thing has happened in thousands of temples, including this one, 100km to the east of angkor wat. for many cambodians, the missing statues are thought to have souls. they're notjust stone, are they, or bronze? they are definitely not just the stone for us. we never think this is only the statue, but the spirit of ancestor. sopheap meas is an archaeologist with the cambodian ministry of culture. when you saw the statue that's broken into pieces, how did you feel physically when you see something like that? ifeel pain, ifeel sad. ijust...sometimes ijust
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don't want to see it, too much to tolerate in the feeling, you know? i just don't want to see something like that. itjust hurts me a lot. sometimes i heard people talk how they destroyed the temple. ijust feel like, oh, my god, that is so painful to hear. this is very beautiful male statue. he have four arms. sopheap is trying to make things right again. she is part of a cambodian government investigative team that's working to reclaim stolen statues. it's a mammoth task. they're tracing the histories of objects across hundreds of museums and private collections, from sydney to san francisco. leading the team is american
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lawyer brad gordon. we're tracking about 100 museums, and so we've compiled, based on publicly available information, we've compiled lots of information about cambodian pieces that are out there, so there's a couple of thousands pieces we are tracking. we know that these statues were taken out of the ground, and we know the cambodian government didn't give permission, so we're now asking the museums and private collectors, "prove to us that you have a right to have these pieces." we're doing targeted excavations, so the excavations are coming up with remarkable finds, like arms and legs and pedestals, which, in some cases, using modern technology, we know that it's most likely a perfect match. you know, like a foot matches a piece that's in a major museum. that's exactly what happened with these huge warrior statues, the team's biggest success to date. the tops of the statues were once
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on display in the us, but it was the perfect match of their feet left behind in cambodia that proved they'd been stolen. they�* re now reunited, the pride of cambodia's national museum. the cambodian authorities are now on the hunt for more treasure. they're tracing the looters who originally dug up the antiquities. we have a whole network of informants who we're working with, and we are going site to site, where we understand they came from, and interviewing people in that area, and then collecting all that information. the former looters, who've become government witnesses, have all been given code names to try to protect
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their identities. right now, we're on our way to see a woman the iron princess doesn't want to be identified because she fears other looters may come after her for revealing crimes committed decades ago. the temple the iron princess looted stood for almost 1,000 years before being systematically dismantled in the 1990s.
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the iron princess looted during the aftermath of a dark period in cambodian history. for centuries, angkor wat was a monument to the culture of the khmer people of cambodia, but, now abandoned, it's a signpost to khmer atrocities. the khmer rouge government claimed the lives of up to 2 million of its own people between 1975 and 1979. even after they lost power, their influence was felt in the country for another 20 years. when it comes to these objects, this, for me, is one of the strongest argument — this is a time of conflict. you can argue that they're war crimes, that these objects were taken out during war,
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and the world made several attempts over the last couple of decades to stop this kind of practice. this former looter, codenamed �*red horse', was a child soldier forced to fight under the khmer rouge. he's working with the cambodian team, revealing sites he used to pillage. we're searching for the one of them, an abandoned temple. we're searching for one of them, an abandoned temple. god, this is it. look, you can see the stone right there, the stone wall, it's right in the middle of this vegetation. so, this is it. wow, 0k. this temple is 800 years old. it's now been reclaimed by nature.
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0w. these dead vines are covered in really sharp thorns. it's not easy to walk through here. oh, and there are hornets, too. so, this was one of the top ten spots where the looters pillaged, really up until the late �*90s. they hid here, this was a khmer route hiding spot. red horse shows me where he says he unearthed a statue in the 19705. so, what exactly did you find and how did you get it out? i show red horse photos
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of objects from the british museum's collection. this thing, this is what you... ..took it from inside there? the investigative team has carefully traced the statue�*s likelyjourney. they're confident the one red horse identifies matches the artefact seen here on the british museum website. it's a cambodian priority to get it back. in response, the british museum told the bbc: i also showed the iron princess
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a selection of antiquities that are currently held in london. 0k, these are items in the victoria and albert museum. standing ganesha. 0h, 0k, first one. now, this is beautiful. it's a shiva statue, bronze, completely intact. i mean, how much would you have sold this for, do you know? 17,000 thai baht. that's around us$500. iron princess says she sold a statue that looks like this one in the v&a, but the team is yet to make a direct match. now, looters like the iron princess want to help fix what they've done.
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the v&a told the bbc: questions about cambodia's illicit antiquities trade have led investigators to some strange places. bangkok, 2010 — the latchford classic. the entire contest is named after this man, douglas latchford. he was also a high—profile art dealer, believed to be at the very centre of the trade in stolen antiquities. latchford agreed to a rare interview in the 2014 documentary the stolen warriors.
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the filmmakers asked latchford about a civil complaint filed by the united states attorney's office in 2012. in the court files, they speak of smuggling networks, and you being a part of a smuggling network. what do you feel when you read it? um...their imagination has gone wild. they've seen too many indiana jones films. as far as i know, there is no such thing as a smuggling network, and i certainly don't belong to any smuggling network. despite latchford's denials, us prosecutors closed in. in 2019, latchford was indicted for art trafficking. he died a year later, before going to trial. this book, co—authored by douglas latchford, has become a valuable source of information for investigators. it contains many of the masterpieces that
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were taken out of cambodia, things that most cambodians will never dream of seeing in person. and it's been used as proof that these items were at least known to latchford and his circle. investigators are still unravelling latchford's connections to objects that were auctioned off decades ago. we have a special report on the worldwide trade of illicitly exported art treasures. back in 1988, the bbc was asking questions about objects on the auction block. wesley kerr reports. at sotheby's biggest ever sale of the highly prized art of south east asia, this four—armed vishnu sold for £209,000. but were the statues originally stolen? the cameroonian royal family tried to stop the sale, but failed. now, brad is in london. the cambodian authorities are writing to major museums and the british government for help.
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i showed him the newsnight story from 1988. what was your gut reaction to it? amazing that the bbc had picked up on this in �*88. we need to find this. this needs to come home. it's very important. so, we have the archival photographs from 1936, when the french inventoried it, and it was taken to the conservatory. the conservatory is a secret warehouse just outside angkor wat where statues are still stored for safekeeping today. that's just incredible. i mean, we've got an elephant, we've got a lion dog, we've got lintus from angkor. no—one�*s been granted access to see this complex in decades. brad thinks the four—armed vishnu was stolen from here and sold on. so, where is the statue now?
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the latest information we have is that we've been going through the files of materials handed over to us by the latchford family, and we found a photograph, and the photograph is an image that is identical to the statue that featured in the programme back in 1988, and so, we looked at that photograph and it actually had a label on it. latchford's photo is labelled with the name of one of his old customers. brad thinks this customer or the customer's family might still have the statue. we're not sure yet if they have it or not, but hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, we will find out. what chance do you have of getting that statue back? i think we have a very good chance, and especially now that we understand a lot more of the history, i think we should get a good result.
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the cambodian authorities believe douglas latchford's personal collection contained more than 100 pieces. so far, five major works and some smaller ones have been returned to cambodia. now, the cambodian government is eager to recover the rest. douglas latchford's daughter, julia, told us in a statement: there were more items on sale at sotheby's back in 1988.
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this khmer sculpture of a five—headed shiva broke all records when it fetched a total of £319,000. brad and his team have tracked down the five—headed shiva. it was sold at sotheby's to a private collector. in 1993, it was donated to the met museum in new york, where it's on display today. what would you like the met to do? we would love to come back next week, you know. i think it's an important piece for the cambodians and it needs to come home. a spokesperson for the met told us: retrieving the statues would look good politically for the cambodian government ahead of an election year in 2023. prime minister hun sen has been
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in power for three decades. most of his rivals are in prison or in exile. i sat down with the cambodian minister of culture and fine arts. this week, she wrote to the uk government to demand their assistance. minister, some people will say your country has problems with corruption. it has a worsening human rights record. why should the uk authorities co—operate with cambodia? i think that every country has a problem about corruption, even in europe, in us, in asia. it's not... tell me one country don't have any corruption. i don't defend that. but don't confuse the corruption with something else. the statue belongs to us, belong to cambodian people.
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we are driving to a village that lies in the shadows of the scene of industrial scale looting. up here is the way that go to the market in the... satia was born here and comes from a family of looters who struggled to survive under the khmer rouge. my older generation, my grandfather, my father, they already did that, they don't have choice. at that time, it's a civil war in cambodia. like, if you are starving, then finding some statues to sell for them so you could have money to feed your family, and i think that's what my father think, and that's why he did that. satia now works as a key member in the cambodian investigative team, fighting for the return of the country's antiquities. i grew up in this village next to the temple. some of the older generation, theyjust to see the gods in the temple,
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so i want them to see that again. i want them to see the beautiful temple with the god, with the statue. so, i think it is my obligation as a younger generation to bring those gods back home. in cambodia's capital, phnom penh, this dance was created to welcome some beloved statues that were returned last year. these dancers are hoping they'll have good reason to perform again. the statue for here, for this environment, for this temple, for these people. i think it's important that the statues are coming back, to our country, our people, because people need to. . .to pray. they pray. it's a living culture,
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it's a living god. hello there. sunday saw a significant change in the weather across the uk. the high pressure that brought us the warmth and the sunshine on saturday has been pushed away, and with lowering pressure and the breeze picking up, we're continuing to see areas of rain moving northwards. and that rain's still potentially heavy and thundery in places during monday, again moving northwards. we should see sunshine developing more widely in england and wales and later in northern ireland, but that will lead to a few heavy and thundery showers. it will be warmer, temperatures up to 22 or 23 degrees in the sunshine.
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a different story in scotland, where the rain sets in during the afternoon. temperatures are going to be a lot lower. it could be only 11 degrees in aberdeen with that rain and the wind coming in off the north sea. that wetter weather continues to move northwards during monday evening to move away, and then we're looking at this rain coming into the far south—west. but for many it will turn dry, it'll turn clear. one or two mist and fog patches. not quite as warm, not quite as muggy, i think, by tuesday morning. but we await another band of rain coming slowly into western areas. that's going to hang around for a while, and ahead of it, though, we've got a southerly breeze which will bring us some warmth. many places will start dry, i think, on tuesday with some sunshine, but along that weather front this rain is going to develop and could turn heavy into the afternoon, particularly for northern ireland. ahead of it, with some sunshine, and that southerly breeze, it's going to be warm, 26 degrees likely in the south—east of england, the warmest day of the week ahead. that heat could trigger one or two late—in—the—day storms, but most of the rain is coming on that weather front
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in the west during the day. that will push eastwards overnight and tending to clear away for most areas, i think, by wednesday. so, we may well start dry with some sunshine around on wednesday, and many places stay dry as well. down towards the south—west, we're looking at thickening cloud and some much wetter weather beginning to arrive. ahead of it, it's going to be warm in the sunshine, but we need to keep an eye on that rain, because it's likely to develop more widely, pushing northwards and eastwards and giving many parts of the country a soaking on wednesday night but tending to move away from most areas by thursday. we could still have some rain just lingering towards the far south—east of england. we've got one or two showers running up towards the north—west of the uk. the breeze coming in from the south—west, and many places will be seeing some sunshine, and it'll still feel warm, temperatures around 18 to 22 degrees. now, this is how we end the week. we've got low pressure to the north—west of the uk and probably a weather front here bringing some rain into scotland and northern ireland, but a weak ridge of high pressure for england and wales.
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but it is very weak. we still can't rule out some showers, particularly later on in the day. most of the wet weather looks like coming into western scotland and northern ireland, so it's going to be cooler here. elsewhere, for england and wales there will be some sunshine but perhaps some showers, as well. now, the detail of the downpours is really going to be quite difficult over the week ahead, but we do have this theme of some warmth and some sunshine at times but the potential for some heavy and thundery downpours, as well. and thundery downpours as well. now, looking further ahead into the weekend and beyond, we're going to find high pressure tending to build up from the south—west towards the uk. the position of the high may change a little bit. with that sort of orientation, we start to bring down more of a northerly breeze. but at least we'll lose the heavy, thundery downpours. it starts to dry off over the weekend, although early in the following week, with that northerly breeze, temperatures may be lower with showers towards the east. that's it. goodbye.
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tonight at 10: the bbc sees more evidence of apparent war crimes committed against ukrainian civilians by russian forces. the bodies of more than 1,000 people have been discovered in the bucha region, outside the capital — now it's revealed that more than half of them were shot. now we still don't have a full picture of exactly what happened, but from the evidence that we've found underground here, it's clear they were executed. nato foreign ministers meet in berlin as finland and sweden — neutralfor decades — apply tojoin, a decision hailed by the alliance�*s secretary general. this would be an historic moment. their membership in nato would increase our shared security.
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the northern ireland trade row, post—brexit.


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