Dith Pran (1942-2008)
“I’m a one-person crusade. I just speak for those who did not survive and for those who will still suffer.”
Pran is recognized for his extra ordinary bravery and risk for agitating what ought to be right during war times. Suffered four years of abusive treatment after the Communist Khmer Rouge forces took over his country in 1975.
The violence that ensued in 1975 the Khmer Rouge (from murderous followers of dictator Pol Pot who seized control of Cambodia) that claimed the lives of two million innocent people.
Pran was a Cambodian war respondent who used the U.S media to expose horrors endured in the world, under the murderous dictator’s rule of Pol Pot being a photo journalist.
Dith Pran got captured, along with three U.S journalists with whom he was working with.
He saved the American lives by risking his life to negotiate with the captors for their release.
Pran, meanwhile, was stuck in the new Cambodia, or “Kampuchéa” as the Khmer Rouge had renamed it, under force labour and starvation for four years.
He dressed like a peasant and pretended to be a simple villager. It was a wise decision.
The Khmer Rouge had orders to execute anyone who wore eyeglasses, perfume, makeup, watches, or other evidence of Western influence. As a symbol of the fact that Cambodia was starting over, 1975 was referred to as “Year Zero.”
Pran made his way to a village twenty miles from Siem Reap, where he and other villagers were forced to harvest rice while receiving political instruction at night. The workers were allowed to eat just one spoonful of rice per day. Pran and the other starving villagers ate anything they could find: bark, snakes, snails, rats, and even the flesh of dead bodies.
One night Pran dared to sneak out to try to eat some raw rice. For this the guards ordered his fellow villagers to beat him and leave him outside in a rainstorm.
He endured those four years of starvation and torture before he escaped and treked 60 miles through landmile-riddled terrain to gain his freedom.
Pran began to devote his spare time to helping fellow Cambodians who had suffered under the Khmer Rouge by taking several trips back to Cambodia and attempted to bring the Khmer Rouge to justice before the World Court
Dith Pran founded the Dith Prans Holocaust Awareness project to educate people on the wrong doings he witnessed in the hopes it would prevent future atroicities.
He became a good will ambassador to the United Nations and his story inspired the movie The Killing Fields.
Pran passed away on the 30th of March, 2008, yielding to pancreatic cancer, but then his extra ordinary bravery is one to be remembered for .
Your character counts a lot.