Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Murderous Revolution

The Murderous Revolution
Bun Heang Ung's Life with Death in Pol Pot's Kampuchea

'The Murderous Revolution' is the real-life story of Bun Heang Ung and his daily struggle to survive the constant danger, fear, forced labour, disease and starvation, mass executions and the disappearance of family and friends, during the horrific reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. What separates Bun from the majority of his fellow survivors is his ability to recall those indelible and vivid images from his memory and record them onto paper. Bun is an accomplished artist and his drawings provide a unique window and invaluable testimony into those tragic times.

Forced to flee Phnom Penh with his family in 1975, Bun, then a 23 year old university student studying art, headed for his home village, Maesor Prachan, 40 kilometres northeast of the capital in Prey Veng province. Assigned to work units repairing paddies, planting and harvesting rice or building dams, Bun was hospitalised, he witnessed atrocities and executions, purges of Khmer Rouge cadre and the massacre of more than thirty of his own relatives. In 1977 he married Phiny and they survived together until the arrival of the Vietnamese liberators two years later. They returned to Phnom Penh and Bun found work as an animator but wasn't happy. In December 1979, they headed for the Thai border and stayed in the Khao-I-Dang refugee camp before accepted for resettlement in Australia, arriving six months later. Miraculously, all of Bun's immediate family had survived an ordeal lasting nearly four years from which few families emerged unscathed. Phiny wasn't so fortunate. She lost her father, three brothers, two sisters and more than fifty other relatives.

Today, Bun and Phiny are settled in Sydney. They have four children, the eldest at university. He now draws cartoons for feature films and is the political cartoonist for the Far Eastern Economic Review, while Phiny is an ethnic communities liaison officer. They have both returned briefly to Cambodia, where Phiny was the subject of a TV documentary, but they intend to remain in Australia, where they have made new lives for themselves. However, the spectre of those harrowing days is never far away. On a Sydney street one day, they came face to face with the former Khmer Rouge chief of their home village, now a 'respectable' businessman in the same community.

'The Murderous Revolution : Life and Death in Pol Pot's Kampuchea' is available through Orchid Press in Bangkok. Martin Stuart-Fox has written the text, weaving Bun's personal testimony into the national perspective as the Khmer Rouge reign unfolded. Bun produced over 90 black and white drawings for the project, of which 60 were used in the book. It was first published in 1985 and was reprinted in 1986 and again in 1998. Some pictures from the book can be found here, along with other political and caricature drawings from this very talented artist.

- Text quoted from Andy Brouver's Cambodia Tale -

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Anonymous said...

Can you share the book for free?

Anonymous said...

Is there a place I can buy this book?