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tv   Our World  BBC News  June 12, 2022 3:30am-4:00am BST

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this is bbc news, the headlines: hundreds of marches are being held across the united states to pressure congress into making changes to gun laws. following a spate of mass shootings, the rallies are being organised by the group march for our lives. president biden says guns should be a key issue in the coming elections. with fighting intensifying in ukraine, officials warn their army is running out of ammunition as it engages in intense artillery battles with russian forces. western countries are being urged to speed up their delivery of long—range weapons and ammunition to help ukraine strike back in the south and east. royal officials in britain have insisted that prince charles remains politically neutral, following a report that he has
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strongly criticised government plans to send some asylum seekers to rwanda in central africa. an unnamed source told the times newspaper that prince charles has described the policy as appalling. now on bbc news: our world. 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 sculptures are much more than just stone objects. now cambodia is fighting back,
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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. cambodia is one of the poorest countries in asia, but many will spend what little they have to come here.
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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's 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, the fingers are gone. on this one, i mean, it's just been lopped off right at the top. i mean, you canjust imagine 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
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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 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 comes...it hurts me a lot. sometimes i heard people talk
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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's 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 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
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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 on display in the us, but it was the perfect match of their feet left behind in cambodia that proved they'd been stolen.
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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 their identities. right now, we're on our way to see a woman they call the �*iron princess'. the iron princess doesn't want to be identified
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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, and the world made several attempts over the last couple of decades to stop this kind of practice.
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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 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. 0w. these dead vines are covered in really sharp thorns. it's not easy to walk through here. oh, and there are hornets, too.
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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 1970s. so, what exactly did you find and how did you get it out? i show red horse photos of objects from the british museum's collection. this thing, this is what you... ..took it from inside there?
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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 a selection of antiquities that are currently held in london. 0k, these are items in the victoria and albert
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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. the v&a told the bbc:
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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. the filmmakers asked latchford about a civil complaint filed by the united states attorney's office in 2012.
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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 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
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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 cambodian 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. i showed him the newsnight story from 1988. what was your gut reaction to it? amazing that the bbc
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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? 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,
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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. the cambodian authorities believe douglas latchford's personal collection contained more than 100 pieces.
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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. this khmer sculpture of a five—headed shiva broke all records when it fetched a total of £319,000.
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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 it 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 in power for three decades. most of his rivals are in prison or in exile.
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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 cooperate 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. this statue belongs to us, belong to cambodian people. 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...
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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, 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
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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, it's a living god.
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hello there. 15 hours of sunshine for some south—eastern areas, where the temperatures got up to nearly 2a degrees celsius on saturday. it was a little different though further north, as you will see. we had a wet and a windy spell. we had nearly two inches of rain in the past 2a hours, across parts of scotland. gusts of wind, 40—50mph quite widely, and even as far south as the llyn peninsula of wales, and that's because of this unusually deep area of low pressure, which is pulling away. so, gradually the winds will ease down but they will still continue to bring in a few showers through the early hours of the morning, particularly in the north and the west. temperatures though under starry skies further south perhaps as low as eight or nine, so a little bit on the cool side, sunday morning,
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but plenty of sunshine will follow, particularly for england and wales. the cloud bubbles up. the showers are around for northern ireland, particularly north—western parts of england and wales, and particularly across scotland. still some heavy ones here, but generally fewer heavy ones than we had during saturday, and fewer showers. still quite blustery really for the time of year but, again, the winds won't be quite as strong as we saw on saturday. temperatures will be on a par with those on saturday, about 16 to 22 degrees celsius. so some sunshine to be found for most parts and the showers tended to ease later but still some very high levels of pollen, particularly across england and wales. now, as we take the forecast forward then through sunday night and into monday, we start to see those showers fading for a time. weak weather front pushes close by to the north—west of scotland. the winds are easing down a notch as well, so temperatures mightjust be a little bit lower, again, on monday morning, but, again, only 7s and 8s — a fresh start to our monday morning. plenty of sunshine will follow. rather more cloud though, as you can see, across the northern half of scotland.
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showery outbreaks of rain to come here, but not as windy. still pushing into the low 20s, though, further south, with that strong june sunshine. then, through the week ahead, this high pressure starts to push its influence further north, so still weather fronts around but little appreciable rain away from the far north of scotland, and actually that high pressure is going to tap into some of that heat that we're seeing further south, so temperatures are likely to rise, particularly for england and wales, but even further north we'll start to see some warmth arriving later in the week. as ever, it's one to watch. we'll keep you posted, there's more online.
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this is bbc news. i'm lucy grey. our top stories: hundreds of thousands across the usjoin marches to push for reform of gun laws. are you ready, young and old and in between, to be the generations that make ourselves heard from ballots, not bullets? ukraine's army says it urgently needs more ammunition as battles intensify. so why are western—made arms taking so long to reach the front line? ajudge in los angeles dismisses a rape allegation lawsuit against footballer cristiano ronaldo. not floating, but sinking: hong kong's famousjumbo restaurant is to disappear after nearly 50 years.

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