March 30, 2008

'The wind whispers of fear and hate'


Dith Pran, the New York Times photojournalist who survived Cambodia's ethnic cleansing campaign, has passed away at the age of 65. He died from pancreatic cancer.
His harrowing tale of survival and escape was detailed in the film "The Killing Fields", one of my all-time favorites. As a naive (read:clueless) teenager living a comfortable life in Manila, it was jarring and heartbreaking to learn that 2 million (out of a population of 7 million) people who looked like me and lived not too far away from me were murdered. (of course, the Philippines has had its share of killings, torture, disappearances from the Marcos era until the present.) I can't watch the movie and keep a dry eye. Who could forget this exchange?

Sydney Schanberg: Do you forgive me?
Dith Pran: Nothing to forgive Sydney, nothing.

It is unfortunate that Pol Pot died without being held accountable for the genocide. Dith Pran became a goodwill ambassador for the UN High Commisioner for Refugees and founded the Holocaust Awareness Project. May his soul be rested now.

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