Dith Pran’s life was so extraordinary it could be have been a movie, and it was. Dith, who died Sunday at age 65, inspired “The Killing Fields,” which chronicled the bloody reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, during which an estimated 2 million died.
Dith was an interpreter and photographer working with New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg, covering horror of what was going on in Cambodia during the 1970s. When it became too dangerous to operate, Dith helped save the lives of many foreign journalists before being sent by the government to a death camp. He survived and his ordeal was the basis for “The Killing Fields” movie and book.
The New York Times hired Dith as a photographer in 1980 after he moved to the United States, and in my two years living in New York, I met him a few times and it was an honor every time I shook his hand. He was connected to many activities that helped student journalists and for seeking justice for the genocide victims in his home country and elsewhere.
There’s been many articles and obituaries published since Sunday honoring this great man. They are all well deserved. If you don’t know about Cambodia’s killing fields or Dith Pran, you should. Here are some links to get you started:
Dith Pran, photojournalist and survivor of Killing Fields, dies at 65 — New York Times
Remembering Dith Pran — Poynter.org
Dith Pran, pioneer, role model, legend, friend — AAJA.org
Interpreter of memories from the Killing Fields — Washington Post
This post can also be found on Hyphen magazine’s blog.