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
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.