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The Cambodian people should no longer be left behind as in the “Killing Fields.”

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October 4, 2017

The Honorable Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Secretary-General of the United Nations

 Dear Honorable Secretary-General Guterres,

My name is Justin C. Sok.  I am a Cambodian American, residing in Long Beach, California.  As you aware, there are hundreds and thousands of Cambodian Americans staging a peaceful protest across our great nation. The majority of us, and including myself, have lost our loved ones during the Khmer Rough regime.

After Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979, I learned from my father that all of his siblings and many of his relatives from his side of the family were executed during the Khmer Rouge regime.  And due to the horrific news he received, my father became physically and mentally demoralized.  He became very ill and bedridden.  And due to the lack of medical care and poor nutrition, my father succumbed to death in 1981 in the Thai refugee concentration camp.  Like many thousands of Cambodian survivors, I am a living proof of the Khmer Rouge regime.  Therefore, it is fair for me to say, “It was the worse time to be human.”

It was almost 40 years ago and you may ask, “Why do Cambodian Americans have yet to move on with their lives?”  Physically, maybe we are doing better.  But psychologically, we are still drenched in sorrow.  Our hopes, dreams, and lives were crushed.  We are still engulfed by the horrific experiences we went through during the Khmer Rouge regime.  The older ones have developed posttraumatic stress disorder and other associated psychiatric symptoms.  They have somatic complaints, and endure multiple medical problems.  And again, although it has been almost 40 years ago, and sadly, the recovery and healing process have yet to begin.

Everyday, our Cambodian people back home are still living in the trenches of fear.  Their daily lives are like worms, squirming in a chicken barn.  The Cambodian people are terrified by the fact that the man who was a former Khmer Rouge cadet, and had his hands stained with blood of innocent Cambodian people, has been able to hold on to power for more than 3 decades.  This man is, Mr. Hun Sen!

While the world is currently facing with multiple crises: Iran is trying to access to nuclear weapons; there is an on-going civil war in Syria and Venezuela; the refugees crisis in Europe; Isis; famine in Africa; and the most recent threats by the North Korea to “reduce” us and our American allies into “ashes and darkness” with their nuclear power.  And Mr. Hun Sen is seizing this opportunity to close the door on the Cambodian people. 

The general election is set to take place in July of 2018, and in order to secure for another 5 years in office, he has promoted his elder son, Hun Manet, to Lieutenant/three-star General for the Royal Cambodia Armed Forces.  Manet also heads the Cambodia’s National Counterterrorism Task Force and is Deputy Commander of his father’s much-feared Bodyguards Unit.  The second son, Hun Manith, is a Brigadier General, while the youngest son, Hun Many, is the head of the Cambodia’s People Party, Youth Movement.  Mr. Hun Sen has enlisted hundreds and thousands more young men to serve as his bodyguards, and has promoted and bribed his generals to protect him and for his families.

Within less than a month, Mr. Hun Sen had his paramilitary and bodyguard units arrest and jail, Mr. Kim Sok, an independent political analyst.  He closed the door on the independent media outlets including Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, The Cambodia Daily newspaper, freelance journalists, foreign nationals, and foreign Non-governmental Agencies.  Mr. Hun Sen has publicly announced that he would shed of blood of another 100, 200, or more, if he were to lose the next general election. 

On Sunday, September 3, 2017, Mr. Hun Sen had his paramilitary and bodyguard units, storm into the house of Mr. Kem Sokha, President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), who was then arrested and jailed without respect to his guarantee due process and his parliamentary immunity.

The Cambodian American and Cambodian people across the globe would like to raise awareness around the world about our recent past and present ordeals.  Mr. Hun Sen is the longest serving dictator in Southeast Asia.  For more than 3 decades, Mr. Hun Sen and his corrupted regime have continuously imposed a failed ideology, which has inflicted pain and suffering on the Cambodian people.  President Donald Trump gives a historic first speech to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly,

“America stands with every person living under the brutal regime.  Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action.  All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their well-being, and including their prosperity.”

The Cambodian people are also the people of this world community.  We embrace the dreams of living in peace, freedom, and prosperity.  The Cambodian people should no longer be left behind as in the “Year Zero” (also called the “Killing Fields”) and we should not have to endure such insufferable ordeals under this cruel and barbaric regime again.

Under the banner of democracy and with this glorious United Nations, the Cambodian people plead that you issue a strong statement, condemning Mr. Hun Sen for his inhumane treatment and unjust criminal acts against the Cambodian people and his political opponents.  We call for your immediate attention and cooperation to demand for:

1)    The immediate release of Mr. Kem Sokha, President of CNRP, with no conditions;

2)    The immediate release of all other political activists;

3)    Allowing the return of Mr. Sam Rainsy (former President of CNRP), with no conditions;

4)    Allowing the return of the independent media outlets (The Cambodia Daily Newspaper; freelance journalists; foreign NGO’s; Voice of America; and Radio Free Asia) to continue their daily operations; and

5)    To guarantee a “free and fair” election in July 2018.

Honorable Secretary-General Guterres, we fervently implore you to acknowledge the atrocities occurring under the current political regime in Cambodia and humbly request your immediate action if we are to have any hope of securing justice for the Cambodian people.

Please do not abandon Cambodia again!


 Justin C. Sok, survivor of the “Killing Fields

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