Author of First They Killed My Father, a daughter of cambodia remembers comes to HWS
March 14, 2000 GENEVA, NY – From 1975 to 1979 — through execution, starvation, disease, and forced labor — the Khmer Rouge systematically killed an estimated two million Cambodians, almost a third of the country's population. Loung Ung, a survivor of the Cambodian genocide who is now author and national spokesperson for the Campaign For a Landmine Free World, will present a talk titled “First They Killed My Father, a daughter of cambodia remembers” (after her recently released book). The talk will be given at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, in the Geneva Room on the Hobart and William Smith Colleges campus. The event is free and open to the public.
Ung's parents and two sisters were killed during the Cambodian genocide. Ung was next to the youngest of eight children and was five years old when the violence began.
The story she comes to tell at HWS is the story of her survival. She was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans while other siblings were sent to labor camps. She eventually emigrated to the United States and settled in Vermont. Loung's subsequent campaign against landmines is a result of witnessing firsthand how her famished neighbors, after dodging soldier's bullets, risked their lives to traverse unmapped minefields in search of food.
By sharing her experiences, through public addresses such as this one at HWS and through her book, Ung hopes episodes like the Cambodian genocide and the use of antipersonnel mines will be horrific chapters in history, rather then present-day fears.
“Responsibility has a lot to do with how much you know about what's going on,” Ung told a Chicago Tribune reporter. “When the war in Cambodia happened, no one knew. So how can I expect students to take responsibility and take action against land mines when they don't know about them? It's not just a job, it's a mission for me. It's very idealistic, I know. But in a small way, I think I get to change the world.”
The event is a part of the HWS Genocide in the 20th Century lecture series, and also sponsored in part by the Colleges club chapters of Amnesty International and Refuse and Resist. Ung will be available after the talk to autograph her book.
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