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First They Killed my Father: Excerpt

{Book cover photo and Loung Ung photo by Gigi Cohen, 2000}

As I am too young to remember anything about Cambodia, I learn from stories from my family and more recently from another daughter of Cambodia Loung Ung in her powerful book "First They Killed My Father." Although she is not able to find time to be a guest writer for the 30 days of hope postings, it may be more suitable to use her words from her book. In the beginning author's note from the book, she writes,

"This is a story of survival: my own and my family's. Though these events constitute my experience, my story mirrors that of millions of Cambodians. If you had been living in Cambodia during this period, this would be your story too."

I wanted to share two excerpts with you: one that also details further my family's story and one that my the grace of God is an experience we were spared.

{base people refer to peasants that have always lived in rural Cambodia and new people refer to those from the city who haven't worked in the fields and thus are lighter skinned}

"Though the Angkar says we are all equal in Democratic Kampuchea, we are not. We live and are treated like slaves. In our garden, the Angkar provides us with seeds and we ma plant anything we choose, but everything we grow belongs not to us but to the community. The base people eat the berries and vegetables from the community gardens, but the new people are punished if they do. During harvest season the crops from the fields are turned over to the village chief, who then rations the food to the fifty families."

"I do not care why or how the Angkar plans to restore Cambodia. All I know is the constant pain of hunger in my stomach."

Below is one that my the grace of God is an experience we were spared:

"Many of the girls who are forced to marry soldiers are never heard from again. It is rumored that they suffer greatly at the hands of their 'husbands'. The soldiers are often heard saying women have their duty to perform for the Angkar. Their duty is to do what they were made for, to bear children for the Angkar. If they do not fulfill their duty, they are worthless and dispensable. They are good for nothing and might as well die so their food rations can go to those who contribute to rebuilding the country. There is nothing the parents can do to stop the abduction of these young girls because the soldiers are all-powerful. They have the power of judge, jury, police, and army. They have the rifles. Many girls choose to escape from their abductors by committing suicide."

Loung Ung is an activist, lecturer, and author. You can read more about her at http://www.loungung.com/

One of the 30 days of hope auction items is an autographed copy of this book, a collectible first edition.

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