In reality violence, intimidation and corruption do not stop people from supporting the party they believe in.
If people cannot show their support for one party or another due to fear, what can the future hold for them? People
fear the harm the Khmer Rouge can cause by refusing to disarm. They don't trust anybody, including their neighbors.
Party members and supporters rights have not been protected and there are incidents of violence happening everywhere.
During the civil war, most Cambodians living inside the country did not deal with politics because their goals
were to find food for their family and try to stay alive. Matters became much worse when the Khmer Rouge took power
in 1975. Many Cambodians living overseas did not get involved in politics either because they enjoyed living in
their new countries which provided them freedom and happiness. They were busy working to pay their mortgage and
college tuitions for their children. If Cambodia was safe, these expatriates would love to help rebuild their native
homeland. They would advocate human rights and promote democracy for the Cambodian people.
The Cambodian people do not want war to continue but if the Khmer Rouge faction is still outside the election process,
they predict that the civil war will escalate. With the signing of the peace accords in Paris, the world has begun
to take care of Cambodians, but the war still goes on. People are getting killed and wounded everywhere, including
U.N. teams who are being evacuated like refugees from some areas.
After suffering for more than two decades, the Cambodian people would love to see their country return to peace,
freedom and democracy. They want to see their leaders walk away from the bullets and into the ballot box. Traditionally,
Khmers do not like to talk about politics, but they know how to use their power at the voting booths. They understand
human rights. They understand what it is to be free. And, they greatly desire to participate in the upcoming historical
I salute any politician who believes in non-violence. I appeal to all political parties, including the Khmer Rouge,
to follow the principles of non-violence, non-intimidation and non-corruption.
- Dith Pran is a New York Times photographer whose story was told in the 1985 film
"The Killing Fields."