‘NEW YORK, NY.-The Cambodian-born photojournalist Dith Pran, who survived the Khmer Rouge’s genocide, died Sunday [March 30th] at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, at the age of 65.
Dith Pran was a photojournalist best known as a refugee and Cambodian Genocide survivor and was the subject of the Academy Award-winning film The Killing Fields. (He was portrayed in the movie by first-time actor Haing S. Ngor, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.)
In 1975, Pran and New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg stayed behind in Cambodia to cover the fall of the capital Phnom Penh to the communist Khmer Rouge forces. Schanberg and other foreign reporters were allowed to leave, but Pran was not permitted to leave the country. When Cambodians were forced to work in forced labor camps, Pran had to endure four years of starvation and torture before finally escaping to Thailand in 1979. He coined the phrase “killing fields” to refer to the clusters of corpses and skeletal remains of victims he encountered during his 40-mile escape.His three brothers were killed back in Cambodia.
From 1980, Pran worked as a photojournalist with The New York Times in the United States. He also campaigned for recognition of the Cambodian Genocide victims. He received an Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1998 and was founder and president of The Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project, Inc. He was a recipient of The International Center in New York’s Award of Excellence.
Pran died on 30 March 2008, having been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer just three months earlier.”