First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers





Under the pretext

that there is a war necessity,

they come into Cambodia.

The Nixon Doctrine

for Southeast Asia appears to have failed.

The war that began in Vietnam

has now engulfed Cambodia.

There is anger and frustration

at the US bombings.

Thousands of lives lost.

Farms and livelihoods destroyed.

Many are now turning to the Khmer Rouge,

who promise to reclaim Cambodia

from the government of General Lon Nol,

which is backed by Washington.

But little is known

of the Khmer Rouge's leaders

or their true intentions.

The communist insurgents

now surround the capital, Phnom Penh.

President Ford's speech yesterday,

in which he asked for

no more military aid for Cambodia,

apparently has had an effect,

prompting the embassy to pull out.

APRIL 1975

Word that the US was pulling out

of Cambodia came early Saturday morning.

Journalists and foreign residents

have been told to assemble

at the US embassy before 9:00 a.m.

A school several blocks from the embassy

is serving as the makeshift landing zone.

The helicopter evacuation is

being carried out by American marines.


Loung. Get down!

Be careful. You'll fall.

You are so dirty...

You've finished it!

Let's go and wash your hands.

Have you had fun with your brothers?

I can't dance like Khouy.

It's too hard for me.

That's no problem. I'll teach you.


I'm worried, Captain.

The Americans have abandoned us.

They've evacuated their embassy

down to the last man.

It was a mistake for us

to have trusted them.

The Khmer Rouge could reach the city

at any moment.

Who knows what will happen to Lon Nol

if they get this far?

We are all Cambodians.

So much damage has been done.

If there is a chance to rebuild,

we have to take it.

Help each other to some rice.


Just a spoonful?

So you won't get chubby!

Give some to Chou.

An egg for you?

Stop that and eat up.

Let me give you some sauce.


Loung! Chou!

Come inside!


Unity! Unity!

The Americans are gone!

Cambodians must unite!

Chou, come on!

We must welcome our brothers!

Cambodians unite!


Chou, Loung, go and get some lunch.

What's happening outside?

Brothers, you are welcome.

We don't want any bloodshed.

We are all Cambodians.

Our country is in our hands.

Angkar has prevailed

throughout the country.

Surrender your weapons.

You now answer to Angkar!

Meng, Khouy, come inside.


Go and eat something.

Pa said we have to pack.

Loung, what's happening?

I don't know.

Khouy! You can't take this.

Just take what's important.

Loung! Time to pack.

Only take what we really need.

Ma, please can we take

our New Year's dresses?


I'll take them.

Go and help Geak get changed.


Don't stand there.

Go and change, quickly.

You have to leave the city for three days!

Loung, come on!

Pa, let's take the car.

No, we're taking the truck. Come on!

The Americans are going to bomb the city!

You can return in three days!

Come on, children. Climb up.

Sit down.

Stop that!

Take off your shirts!

And your shoes!

Why are you doing this?

Get them onto the trucks!

Keep moving!

The Americans are going to bomb our city.

You all have to leave!

You'll be safe in the countryside.

You can return in three days.

Do not question Angkar.

Leave! Hurry up!

It's Pa's friend.

Get down, Loung.

Loung, come on, sweetie!

Darling, what are we doing?

It's okay.

We'll have to stay here tonight.

We can't go any further today.

Let's get ourselves organized.

Leave! Now!


Get moving!

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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