Loung Ung was the next to youngest of eight children born into a middle-class family living in Phnom Penh, and the daughter of a former member of the Cambodian Royal Secret Service under Prince Sihanouk. Conscripted as a major into the new government of General Lon Nol, her father was the incarnation of all that the Khmer Rouge wanted to obliterate when they stormed Cambodia’s capital city on April 17, 1975, beginning their reign of terror. Fleeing with her family into the countryside, along with thousands of others who were evacuating Phnom Penh, Loung learned the first of many hard lessons. In order to survive, she had to hide her identity, her education, her former life of privilege. It was no longer safe to trust anyone. “To talk is to bring danger to the family.
At five years old, I am beginning to know what loneliness feels like, silent and alone and suspecting that everyone wants to hurt me.” Posing as peasants, Loung’s family moved from village to village, hoping that no one would recognize and expose them as enemies of the Khmer Rouge government. Working 12-14 hour days and barely surviving on their meager rations, they supplemented their diet with roots and leaves or small animals that they trapped. When those became scarce, they caught beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, and frogs for food. “In Phnom Penh, I would have thrown up if someone told me I would have to eat those things. Now, when the only alternative is to starve, I fight others for a dead animal lying in the road. Surviving for another day has become the most important thing to me.” Although Loung’s three oldest siblings – her brothers, Khouy and Meng, and her sister, Keav-were forced to go to different labor camps, the rest of the family struggled to stay together. After the soldiers came for Loung’s father, they separated to survive.
Jack Davis’ 1986 play No Sugar is a realist drama which examines the trials, tribulations and eventual survival of Millimurra-Munday family through the Great Depression as they are forcibly removed from their homeland in Northam to Moore River Native Settlement. The survival of their culture is dependant on the way that individuals shape their identity and in this play Davis shows how family is ...
Finding her way to a work camp for orphans, Loung began training as a child soldier and was subjected to brainwashing. Faced with the excruciating knowledge that half her family – both parents and two sisters – were now dead by execution, starvation, or disease, Loung channeled her rage and her hatred of Pol Pot into an indomitable will to live. She had just turned eight. As the Vietnamese began liberating the Cambodian people from the Khmer Rouge, Loung, her remaining siblings, and other relatives were miraculously reunited. However, as her family started talking about the war, she pretended to have no memory of it. “Children are not asked for opinions, feelings or what they individually endure.
I do not volunteer information about my indoctrination as a soldier, escape from being raped, or how I lost three days of my life when I found out about Ma.” In 1980, Loung, her brother, Meng, and his wife left Cambodia and joined the thousands of other refugees being smuggled into Vietnam. After months of waiting in a refugee camp, they eventually immigrated to the United States and settled in Vermont. Today, Loung Ung is the national spokesperson for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) and works to raise public awareness about the worldwide consequences of landmines. VVAF co-founded the 1997 Nobel prize-winning global campaign to ban landmines. “As I tell people about genocide and the aftermath of war , I get the opportunity to redeem myself. I’ve had the chance to do something that’s worth my being alive.” Between 1975 and 1979, through starvation, disease, forced labor, torture and execution, the Khmer Rouge systematically killed an estimated two million Cambodians. Almost one-fourth of the entire Cambodian population – men, women, and children – lost their lives in this tragic genocide. With First They Killed My Father, Loung Ung bears poignant witness to this senseless slaughter.
Child pornography and prostitution are two of the most disturbing issues in the world today. Millions of children, in virtually every country in the world, become victims of sexual exploitation. Access to child pornography and prostitution in Southeast Asia has increased during the 1990s due to the lack of government legislation and enforcement protecting children. Japan is the worlds global ...
Her harrowing story of the degradation of the human spirit and the loss of innocence, of the atrocities she saw and her struggle to survive against all odds is one of incomprehensible tragedy and inspirational triumph..