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'Killing Fields' Journalist Dies

By: Expat Advisory Posted: April-01-2008 in
Expat Advisory

A photojournalist for The New York Times since his harrowing escape from the Khmer Rouge, Dith Pran died Sunday at a hospital in New Jersey from pancreatic cancer at the age of 65.

Reporting on the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975 with journalistic partner Sydney Schanberg, he was enslaved into forced labour camps and subsequently endured four years of torture, starvation and desperation. Upon escaping, he crossed the border into Thailand and moved to New York where he re-established his life.

Pran's ordeal during the Pol Pot genocide was adapted into the 1984 award winning film, 'The Killing Fields'.

Despite losing his father, three brothers and a sister during the Khmer Rouge's reign of terror, Dith remained optimistic for the future and went on to establish The Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project, to educate new generations about genocide in the hope of avoiding a repeat of the past. In 1985, he was appointed a goodwill ambassador by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

While his friend Schanberg described Pran as a 'true reporter, a fighter for the truth and for the people', Pran described himself as a mere 'messenger... I must speak for those who did not survive and for those who still suffer."

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