Amanda Mustard November 17, 2014Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in China.
Cheng Yun, 75th Anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre. Nanjing, China 2012
Amanda Mustard (b. 1990, USA) is a freelance photojournalist based in Cairo. Born and raised on a Pennsylvania Christmas tree farm, she has worked on stories in Mid-East, China, and across Southeast Asia for Redux Pictures, Wonderful Machine, ZUMA Press, and Polaris Images. Amanda is a member of the Kōan Collective, Makeshift Magazine Editorial Board, and the Frontline Freelance Register Board. In 2013, she attended the New York Times Portfolio Review, Eddie Adams Workshop XXVI, and RISC (Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues) Training. She is one of Photo Boite and the Telegraph’s 30 Under 30 Women Photographers for 2014.
About the Photograph:
“This is a portrait of Cheng Yun, a 92 year old survivor of the 1937-38 Japanese invasion of China’s then-capital of Nanjing. In 2012, I began a Kickstarter-funded project to track down the few remaining survivors of the ‘Rape of Nanjing’, the 6-week occupation that claimed the lives of over 350,000 civilians, 80,000 of which were brutally raped. Cheng sat on his bed in an icy one-room flat in a slum that was, ironically, across the street from the multi-million dollar Nanjing Massacre Memorial complex. Surrounded by photos of his days as a military man in the Nationalist Army of the Republic of China, he divulged the true story of his past, only after learning that my good friend and translator’s grandfather escaped to Hong Kong when the Communist party took power. Unable to escape to Taiwan with his comrades, his subsequent refusal to tow the new party line landed him in a reeducation camp for eight years, and his pension and military merit were stripped from him. Today, he’s paraded as a ‘war hero’ by the party, but agrees to the public showings out of respect to the past, and in the hope he could somehow restore his standing.”
“Cheng took a risk that gave a whole new meaning to the project I had come to work on. Publishing his candid account of the current party’s faults could have had dire effects on him and his nephew, who was his only remaining family member and full time caretaker. In the meantime, I shared Cheng’s story with my Facebook friends and Kickstarter backers, asking for donations that could be given directly to him to help with his living costs and medical bills. In less than 24 hours, we received $1,100. Two years later, I found news that he had passed quietly in his sleep. Media reports surrounding his death are surreal, tailoring, omitting, and editing his statements to the point where his last words aren’t consistent. His suffering will never be easy for me to accept, but his perseverance and devotion to justice and the truth is something I will always carry with me both personally and as a journalist.”