3D technology comes to the rescue after the destruction of several world cultural treasures by the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
According to the United Nations, ISIS has destroyed and damaged 200 world heritage sites along with hundreds of statues and artefacts since 2014.
ISIS’ plan is simple. It is about erasing all traces of previous cultures to establish their own and take advantage of the media coverage following massing destructions of historic sites to grab the world’s attention. In addition, this cultural cleaning is a way for Daesh to finance their activities by selling to dealers and private collectors.
Yet those lost treasures that some call “blood artifacts” may not be lost forever.
Through her digital fabrication and 3D printing project “Material Speculation : ISIS”, Iranian artist and activist Morehshin Allahyari chose to focus on the reconstruction of selected artifacts and statues destroyed by ISIS in Iraq in 2015.
In addition, to repair history and memory, each 3D printed object comprises a flash drive and a memory card. The data in these flash drives contain materials: maps, images, videos and pdf files on the destroyed artifacts and sites. They were gathered thanks to a collaboration with different archeologists and historians, including and museum staff.
“Like time capsules, each object is sealed and kept for future civilizations.”
– Morehshin Allahyari
Just like Murehshin Allahyari artifacts, Palmyra has suffered numerous act of vandalism. The Syrian desert city known as the Venice of the Sands lost the triumphal arch from 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel.
Devastated, many archaeologists talked restoration and reconstruction such as American lawyer/archaeologist Roger Michel. Indeed, as the founder of Oxford’s Institute for Digital Archaeology, Michel has built a 3D facsimile arch from Palmyra’s destroyed Temple of Bel.
Thanks to 3D technology, Pamlyra’s rose again in London’s Trafalgar Square last April to coincide with world heritage week. It should then travel on to Times Square in New York City.
This 3D replica of the 15-meters arch that formed the temple’s entrance is a gesture of defiance against ISIS’ desire to erase cultural and historical evidence.
“My intention is to show Islamic State that anything they can blow up we can rebuild exactly as it was before, and rebuild it again and again. We will use technology to disempower ISIS.” Roger Michel
Moving for some or uncanny for others, this incredible public display of 3D reconstruction is the proof that new technology can restore entire parts of 20th-century historical sites. Although out of their original context and site, 3D monuments or artefacts might still conserve their precious sense of place and craftsmanship, thus preserving everybody’s heritage.
“They would pour boiling hot water on us” — Free Tibet submits torture evidence as China reviewed at UN Director meets Committee Against Torture
Campaign group Free Tibet and its research partner Tibet Watch provided oral evidence to the United Nations’ Committee Against Torture Monday, following up their written submission detailing the continued use of torture across Tibet. The groups’ report “Torture in Tibet” contains graphic testimonies from torture survivors, records deaths in custody as a result of torture and details how Tibetan prisoners continue to face degradation, abuse and mental and physical torture.
The submission and presentation form part of the Committee Against Torture’s (CAT) review of China’s compliance with the International Convention Against Torture which the PRC ratified in 1988. China was last reviewed by the committee in 2008, when it found torture across China and Tibet to be “widespread” and “routine” and expressed “great concern” about reported torture and state violence in Tibet.
“Torture in Tibet” (co-authored with Tibetan political prisoner association Gu Chu Sum) records the testimony of Gonpo Thinley, jailed following the 2008 Uprising in Tibet:
“They tortured us using electric batons, metallic water pipes and handcuffs. If our answers didn’t satisfy the interrogator, they would pour boiling hot water on us. They also tied both hands up on the ceiling and beat us on our feet with batons. We were hanging above the ground. Sometimes they also used electric batons in our mouth, which caused us to lose consciousness. During cold days or winter, we were put in cold water.”
A monk who wished to remain anonymous reported:
“They made us stand up in the sun for hours, even for the whole day following every interrogation, because we didn’t say anything. One of my friends was tied to the flagpole in the centre of the government campus for two days and two nights without food and water. They shoved me down over pieces of broken glass spread on the ground and beat me a lot with batons after I’d refused to confess. They said we were like animals because we said nothing in between beatings.”
In February, the three Tibet organisations submitted an initial joint report to CAT, providing case studies of tortured prisoners and those at risk of torture and detailing breaches of the Convention’s requirements. The committee subsequently raised these issues and cases with China as part of the preliminaries to the review. China’s delegation will be questioned by the committee on Tuesday and CAT’s final report will be issued early in 2016.
Free Tibet and Tibet Watch director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:
“In their responses so far, China would have us believe that there is no torture in Tibet and our evidence is false. Today we will be urging the Committee Against Torture to press for answers on the questions China would rather avoid. If the Committee’s past performance is anything to go by then tomorrow we’ll see China squirm under international scrutiny and be asked to account for the Tibetans who have been convicted on the basis of confessions extracted by supposedly illegal torture and those who have left Chinese prisons either dead or permanently injured by years of torture and abuse.”
Dong-Hyuk Shin, the only North Korean prison camp escapee, revealed that the inaccurate details in his autobiography “Escape from Camp 14” were neither lies nor confusion about his memories following his traumatic experiences. He just wanted to keep some painful experiences to himself.
“First of all, let me tell about the controversial issues surrounding my book, as some people are still regarding me as a liar. For what and how would I make up those horrible memories? I just wanted to hide a part of my life in the book. Isn’t that a choice I am free to make?” Shin said.
According to the book, Shin underwent torture in North Korea’s most notorious political prison camp, No.14, at the age of 13. He later corrected this claim, however, to say that it was actually in Camp 18, known to be less controlled, when he was 20 years old, after moving out of Camp 14 at age six. Shin was transferred back to Camp 14, again, so he escaped from No. 14 in the end.
He said that he also had to correct the inaccurate report about his confession from United States media. The author of his book, Blaine Harden added in a new forward of the e-book that, “Trauma experts see nothing unusual in this.”
Shin, however, strongly denied the loss of memories, as Harden explained. “I didn’t forget any of the memories of my life. In reality, I couldn’t forget them even if I tried. Every time I tried to erase those terrifying moments, they remained in my head more clearly,” he said.
The prison camp survivor has undergone a tough time since the end of last year, when he arrived in South Korea. Last October, North Korean authorities produced a video called “Lie and Truth” to attack Shin, who had given evidence of North Korea’s human rights violations in front of the UN Commission of Inquiry. In the video, Shin’s father — whom he believed to be dead — contradicted his story.
“I found out that my father was still alive when I watched the video. I believed that he died in the prison camp where he was transferred. When I saw him in such a ridiculous video for the first time, I wasn’t happy at all, but I felt despair. I thought that he would’ve rather died than lived, because I can imagine how much he suffered and is still suffering tortures in the country because of me.”
“If I knew that my story would have gained this much fame at that time, I would’ve disclosed every single detail to the writer.”
The video and the presence of his father ultimately made him reveal what he did not explain in the book. Amid condemnation from many people, he could not stand the criticism of other North Korean defectors.
“I didn’t care about the South Korean media that only focused on the numbers, such as Camp 14 and 18 and my age, while ignoring the scars of prison camp torture on my body. But I was very sad and even enraged because of other defectors who had suffered in North Korea like me,” he continued.
“Some of them denounced me by showing the video produced by North Korean government. I felt miserable, as they didn’t know my true intention, which was to save the dying. I think that they might be jealous of my fame and money. But to be honest, I didn’t earn any money while working for human rights. And the fame had nothing to do with my life, since many North Koreans are still being killed. If I knew that my story would have gained this much fame at that time, I would’ve disclosed every single detail to the writer.”
He alluded to discontinuity in the campaign on his Facebook page this January, but a month later he restarted it.
The prison camp survivor has been involved in North Korean human right activity since 2007. But recently he has felt that everything that he has done was in vain, as nothing has changed yet compared to eight years ago.
“I started this campaign desperately to save tens of thousands of maltreated North Korean residents, because I was also one of them. I didn’t have time, as people were dying every second.”
He was particularly skeptical about the UN’s inquiry into the human rights situation in North Korea, launched in 2013.
“For what did the United Nations establish the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea? What did they do for North Korean residents? It took more than one year for the UN General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee to adopt the resolution. What is next, then?
“I gave all evidence to them in order to save my family and friends — not to lay flowers on their graves. I don’t think that the officials of the UN would understand how serious the real situation in North Korea is, because most of them have not lived that kind of a desperate life.”
The 33-year-old activist begged people to see the invisible reality: “When I told my story to the UN, at first they asked me whether I could prove it,” he said.
“Six million Jews died in the Holocaust over the course of about three years. Who imagined that many people were killed in that short a time? It is exactly same as 70 years ago. We can’t see what is happening in North Korea, but the fact is that people are being publicly executed at this very moment.”
“I felt miserable, as they didn’t know my true intention, which was to save the dying.”
Despite of his sense of futility over his human rights campaign, he said that he will never give it up.
Currently, Shin is planning two projects for the near future. “I’m thinking to publish a magazine about ordinary South Koreans’ lives and to send them into North Korea through the Chinese border with North Korea,” he said.
Similarly, South Korea’s activist groups, led by North Korean defectors, have sent anti-North propaganda leaflets, attached to large balloons, from near the border for several years. This activity, however, escalated tensions between the two Koreas, and North Korean authorities even threatened South Korea with military action.
“North Korea’s sensitive reaction indicates that these flyers are quite influential in society. I chose to produce a magazine to describe South Korea more specifically. I would like to feature photos of couples holding hands, drinking coffee in the cafe, and walking freely in central Seoul. And I wish North Koreans could realize that they also have a right to live like that.”
“I found out that my father was still alive when I watched the video. I believed that he died in the prison camp where he was transferred.”
He said that the second project is a bit more personal. “I’m aiming to make a video that rebuts every part of the video ‘Lie and Truth,’ before a conference at the United Nations in Geneva this September,” he said.
Through the video, he is hoping to send two messages to the North Korean government. “My ultimate goal is to enter North Korea with a delegation to the UN, and I want to visit Camp 14 where I was born and lived. If I can do that, no one will dispute my life, and finally I can prove the human rights violations,” he said.
The other message seems to be more important for In-Gun Shin — that was the original name of human rights activist Dong-Hyuk Shin.
“I’ll request the authorities let me meet my father either in North Korea or in a third country before he dies. And firstly, I’ll ask him why I was born in the prison camp. I then will say ‘I love you’ to my father for the first and last time.”
SEOUL, South Korea — Nongovernmental organization Justice for North Korea (JFNK) launched a street campaign last Saturday in Insadong Street, Central Seoul to bring attention to the North Korean crisis.
Founder of JFNK and activist Peter Jung and street campaign coordinator Aaron Peterson held the campaign with four volunteers. Three people handed out flyers which explained about the organization and North Korea’s situation briefly in Chinese, English and Korean, while the remaining volunteer helped Jung and Peterson to role-play as an arrested defector, Chinese and North Korean soldiers.
The main purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of human rights violations in North Korea and to protest against China’s repatriation of North Korean refugees.
“The reason why we are role-playing is to give a more specific idea about how North Korean defectors are treated inhumanely, as well as to call on the Chinese government to stop the policy of repatriation. We also collect donations to support the process of bringing them over to South Korea safely,” Peterson explained.
Peter Jung founded JFNK in May 2007, when he staged a demonstration alone against Chinese authorities for 444 days, beginning May 23, 2007. He continued the protest until the first day of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Aug. 8, 2008.
“There are still many defectors who are in need of help. I still contact with them, so I can’t abandon this campaign,” he said.
According to a White Paper published by the South Korean think-tank Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) in 2011, China and North Korea have been cooperating in the strict controls over North Korean refugees near the border under a “Bilateral Agreement on Mutual Cooperation for the Maintenance of State Safety and Social Order.”
The UN Commission’s report states that Chinese authorities started to oppress North Korean refugees more severely by tightening border security and cracking down at the end of 2013. The report condemns China for breaching international human rights and refugee laws, as North Korean refugees’ lives are threatened in their country once they are sent back.
The 1951 Refugee Convention describes a refugee as one who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
Despite the international community’s criticism, China has been sticking to its position, considering defectors as illegal immigrants.
Jung emphasized that the South Korean government has to discuss North Korean defectors with China as soon as possible. “If they are forcibly repatriated to North Korea, they will either face the most severe punishment in the political prison camp or be publicly executed. Therefore, the South Korean government should urge the Chinese government to stop it through diplomatic negotiations. Also, the South Korean embassy needs to accept them,” Jung said.
Peterson started to get involved in JFNK two years ago. “I first heard about the North Korean crisis through a National Geography documentary, I was completely shocked — when I watched how North Korean people were brainwashed and isolated from the whole world. This made me become a North Korean activist, because I didn’t feel like enough people knew about what is happening in North Korea,” Peterson said.
The American activist said that he has felt some changes since he began the street campaign. “I can see more and more people are starting to pay attention. Of course, some South Koreans don’t seem to care much, but a lot of them are starting to take pictures of our demonstration and ask for flyers. Most people are very supportive. We would like to see more of that. I’m sure that it will become something that the world leaders have to address in the future,” he said.
Jung and Peterson said that they will not stop this campaign. “We will continue it until North Korean refugees settle down in South Korea or third-party countries, not being repatriated,” Jung said.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean defector Dong-Hyuk Shin has revealed photos of scars on his body, which he says were suffered in a prison camp in the hermit kingdom. Shin published the photos to his Facebook page last week after admitting to several inaccurate accounts in his autobiography in January.
Shin is famous for being the only survivor to have escaped from a North Korean political prison camp.
Between Feb.27 and Mar. 3, he posted photos to his Facebook page of scars and other marks on his ankles, back, left hand and fingers, which he says he received during his time in the camp.
He wrote in the first post that he showed these wounds because he decided not to be afraid of fighting against North Korea any longer. He wrote that the scars on his ankles were received due to being handcuffed and hung upside down.
The following day, he continued to post photos, displaying his back, also burned from during torture. He added that, “I feel embarrassed to show such a photo and it’s shameful. But I must reveal the evil of the dictator and his regime.” Shin’s reference to North Korea’s leader as “the evil of the dictator” was notable, as such an utterance is an unthinkable remark for ordinary citizens of the secretive state.
In the last post, he concluded that, “If I don’t share these photographs, I have no other way to explain how horrible and vicious the N. Korean regime is!” This message was accompanied by photos of his left hand and little finger, still bearing the aftereffects of mistreatment by prison guards.
The photos could support Shin’s testimony about the violation of human rights in North Korea, regardless of the accuracy about “which prison camp” he was tortured in.
Shin acknowledged his inaccurate details in his autobiography, “Escape from Camp 14,” in January. According to the book, he underwent torture in the most notorious political prison camp, no. 14, at the age of 13. He however later corrected this to say that it was in Camp 18, known to be less controlled, when he was 20 years old, after moving out of Camp 14 at age six.
The writer of the book and former Washington Post journalist Blaine Harden told the Washington Post that “he is still saying that all of this [torture] happened at different times and places.” He added that Shin’s confusion about experiences is totally understandable, as he has suffered from trauma for a long time.
Despite the controversy, Harden will not fix the story, because, he said, “Even the new disclosures in the revised forward may not reveal the whole truth.”
Shin made a public apology about the errors in his accounts on his Facebook page on Jan. 18. He also alluded to discontinuity in North Korea’s human right campaign, writing that, “These will be my final words and this will likely be my first post.”
He restarted activity on his social media page last February, and indicated his will was to keep it up until the day when the regime would be overthrown, amid continuous refutation of him from North Korean authorities.
North Korea has been strongly denying Shin’s story and the existence of Camp 14. Its propaganda television channel Urimizokkiri produced a video, “Lie and Truth,” at the end of October 2014, and showed interviews of his father and relatives who still remain in the country, in order to contradict Shin.
“We never lived in a so-called ‘political prison camp’,” his father said in the video. “You [Dong-Hyuk Shin] will regret forever if you don’t come back to your country.”
The video described Shin as a criminal who fled to South Korea to avoid punishment for his crime. Moreover it strongly blamed him for taking the initiative in fabricating the human rights situation in North Korea.
Who is Dong-Hyuk Shin?
His real name was In Gun Shin. He was born inside Camp 14. He made his escape from the prison camp in 2005. He arrived South Korea via China in August 2006 with the aid of a South Korean journalist. Later, he changed his first name to Dong-Hyuk, named after the journalist.
In 2013, he gave evidence of North Korea’s human rights violations, based on his memoir in the prison camp, in front of the UN Commission of Inquiry. He became a key witness who fostered calls for the North Korean government to be charged with crimes against humanity.