Dith Pran is Dead


Quote from Channel News Asia

NEW YORK : Dith Pran ,
whose experiences during the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s were
adapted into the award-winning movie "The Killing Fields," died on
Sunday at the age of 65.

Dith,
who had been battling pancreatic cancer since January, died in the
early hours at a hospital in New Jersey with his ex-wife at his side,
his friend, the former New York Times correspondent Sydney Schanberg,
told AFP.

"Pran was a special
person, a very special person. Messages are pouring in from people who
met him only once saying that he made a deep impression on them. And he
did, on everybody," said Schanberg, who was at Dith’s bedside until
late Saturday.

"He really meant everything to me."

Dith
had worked as a photojournalist at The New York Times since 1980. His
connection with the newspaper began when he worked with Schanberg from
1972 to 1975 covering the Cambodian civil war, a conflict that had
spilled over from neighbouring Vietnam.

When
American citizens were evacuated from Phnom Penh on April 12, 1975,
Dith and Schanberg stayed behind to cover the fall of the city to the
communist Khmer Rouge, who were then closing in on the capital.

Schanberg,
Dith and two other reporters were arrested by the Khmer Rouge and held
for execution, but Dith managed to persuade his captors that the three
Westerners were neutral French journalists.

The
four were later released and sought refuge in the French embassy until
foreigners there were asked to surrender their passports.

Dith
was then exiled to the forced labour camps in rural Cambodia that
became known as the killing fields, where for four years he suffered
starvation and torture.

Up to
two million people died of lack of food and overwork or were executed
by the regime, which dismantled Cambodian society in an effort to forge
a radical agrarian utopia.

Schanberg,
meanwhile, went on to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his coverage of
the conflict, accepting the award for himself and Dith, who only
managed to escape to freedom in Thailand in 1979.

"Pran
was my brother, that’s what we called each other," Schanberg told AFP.
"Pran lost his three biological brothers when they were killed by the
Khmer Rouge and we bonded when I started working with him.

"It
turns out we both had the same mission, which was to tell the rest of
the world what was happening to the Cambodian people – in Pran’s case,
his people – and that was the mission the rest of his life."

In
an interview with New Jersey’s Star Ledger newspaper in March, Dith
said he was not going to give into cancer without a battle.

"We
have already forced the enemy into the suburbs," Dith said of his
cancer after a round of radiotherapy. "Food, medicine and meditation
are good soldiers, and I am ready to fight."

Born
on September 27, 1942, near Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex, Dith
worked in the tourist business before joining Schanberg.

"Pran
was really a gifted reporter, not just a helper and assistant and
interpreter. It was he who made my work possible. None of what I did
could have been half as good as it may have been without Pran,"
Schanberg said.

Dith lost his
father, three brothers and one sister during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of
terror, but always remained hopeful for future generations.

"He
was always smiling. I wish everybody in the world had met him, because
they too would smile and would probably think more positive thoughts
and do more positive things," Schanberg said.

Dith went on to set up The Dith Pran
Holocaust Awareness Project, an organisation devoted to educating new
generations about genocide in the hope of avoiding a repeat of the past.

And in 1985, he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

"Part
of my life is saving life. I don’t consider myself a politician or a
hero. I’m a messenger. If Cambodia is to survive, she needs many
voices," he once said of his work.

"I’m a one-person crusade," he added. "I must speak for those who did not survive and for those who still suffer." – AFP/de

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9 thoughts on “Dith Pran is Dead

  1. Don\’t be fool by Hollywood and the New York Time paper. They just paintedhim to be God. The truth is he\’s nothing more than anyone else.

  2. Hey Voodoo, I agree with you in some degree, that he is just another "survivor" from the Khmer Rouge. However, at least, his story has brought much attention to us. "The Killing Field" also won 3 Oscar Academy… Don\’t we have pride in it?And, He had been Goodwill Ambassador, a rare and high rank. I, as a new generation kid, always want to look up to people with good background, with established past and great achievement.

  3. Denith, don\’t be foolish here. We normally don\’t look up to oscar winners. I mean people who pretend to be the Gladiator, sword fighter in Crouching tiger, or SantaClause, get it? What about Nobel prize winner, like Einstein? Even that you must use properjudment because a guy like Jimmy Carter doesn\’t deserved Nobel for peace in themiddle east because the middle east was never not at peace, okay?And screw the goodwill crap, they only give him the title so that he can brainwashpeople like you.And if you want to look up people with good background, you can start with peoplethat keep you alive everyday: People that give you food and clothing, people that keepthe country safe so that you don\’t become a homeless … but certainly not Hollywoodactor who pretend to be God.

  4. Hey Voodoo, I dont like the word "brainwash"… okay, coz if you talk about "brainwash"… then people do "brainwash" each other, no matter its SRP or CPP or any others. And about the Nobel Vs Oscar, I do think they all given to people who are special and worthy.

  5. Denith, there is nothing wrong with the word "brainwash". The word "education" is just euphemismfor the word "brainwash". so, you need not to be a shame of word. People naturally born with greedy mentality, for example, can be brainwashed to rinse out thatevil feature of him. To use the word "education" in this case would deemphasized the truth,and that is highly undesirable.

  6. Oopsie, I realized that I forgot to response to you about the Nobel vs Oscar.Yes, you are right that the award is given for special and worthy, but you needto know the field of recognition. In case of Oscar, it is for acting, producing, ordirecting, but certainly not for humanity or morality.

  7. Well… it turns out to be something different I expect here. But, lets enjoy this. Well, seems there is nothing much to talk around about one single person. Dith Pran is dead, and all I want is just to mourn a bit for him. Well! this continues so long.

  8. No problemo, mate, so long you treat all victims of the atrocity the same way.Otherwise, it would no be fair to them because they didn\’t get a chance to bea movie star like Pran.

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