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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cowards and heroes

Cowards and heroes

The Editor,

It is hard to believe that Beat Richner tries to defend his action or inaction

in refusing emergency medical treatment to the grenade blast victims following the

Easter Sunday massacre, only 100 yards from the gates of his new hospital.

In his own country, or any nation of laws, he would be held accountable. He would

be held liable and suffer the legal, if not the moral and ethical, consequences of

his acts.

The day after the article appeared in the Phnom Penh Post, an English NGO worker

told me that she knew the woman who left the bloody footprints outside Kantha Bopha

II hospital. She said that the woman had the first gate closed in her face and then

she ran to the second gate, only to find it too closed. She collapsed there, and

was put in a cyclo. She died as the cyclo driver reached Calmette Hospital.

I still have the photos I took that day of bloody footprints going past Kantha Bopha.

The photos are haunting. One can almost feel the terror of the poor bleeding victim...pain,

terror, fear and then bewilderment and confusion at being turned away from the very

gates of the most famous hospital in Cambodia! She died before she could feel the

anger and indignation that has been expressed by many.

The photos of the bloody footprints seem to symbolize much of the horror of that

day...the innocent demonstrators, senseless violence, incredible inhumanity, and

then acts of extreme bravery and heroism. The photos serve as a memory of those victims

and those heroes who risked their lives to assist...those nameless heroes who carried

the wounded...the cyclo drivers, and the medical professionals who dared to behave

as professionals, even perhaps at the risk of angering the murderers.

Interestingly, the day after the blast, the bloody footprints were washed away from

the front of Kantha Bopha II. Perhaps someone wanted people not to know...or wanted

people to forget.

The people will not forget. For every coward who caused the violence and every doctor

who slammed a gate, remember there were many heroes. Cambodia will hopefully always

have those heroes.

- Bert Hoak, Phnom Penh.



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