I am a doctor. I have come to Cambodia to treat sick people and to teach. On Fri.,
Feb. 26th at 2 p.m. in Trapaing Khlong Village, Danbok Roung Commune, Phnom Srouch
District, my three Khmer assistants and I were detained for an hour and robbed. The
robbers were armed with automatic weapons, we were armed with malarial pills. We
were carrying out a normal NGO community health visit in a so called Government area.
There had been no infringement of demarcation zones. The robbers were three uniformed
NADK soldiers. They were identified as such by the assistants, the villagers, and
by the soldiers themselves. They took watches, money, and the assistants neck-chains
and our drug supplies. Many villagers looked on in silence. Disgust was written all
over their faces.
So..just another robbery. You don't have to come to Cambodia for that-it could occur
in New York, Bangkok, Rome or Van-couver. What was so obvious however was the harm
the incident did for the organization which the robbers represented. Our visit was
purely medical and health educational. There was no political component of any kind.
The villagers had greeted us warmly and happily. We were all enjoying each others
company, talking, laughing and educating when the soldiers arrived. How much better
it would have been for the NADK or any other political faction who might have been
present to welcome us to assist us a bit in our work and perhaps then arrange for
another visit before we went. How much that would have been appreciated by the village
and how much good publicity for the political organization whose uniforms were being
worn. Instead, that priceless commodity was all thrown away for a couple of watches,
some riels and Paraceta-mol tablets. They brought fear, disillusionment and disgust
and have now by their actions sent out the message all over the district that the
NADK prefers a few western trinkets over help for the sick and suffering and the
prevention of disease.
There is no political message in this letter. Some, reading it will be pleased, others
cynical at my expectations, others perhaps disappointed. I have no idea if NADK or
representatives of any other political groups read these pages or not. My plea to
any group however is-please sometimes put the sick and suffering and uneducated above
your political aspirations. Why not wear your uniforms as 'ambassadors to your cause'
and not as apocalyptic shrouds. Wouldn't it make you proud to be immediately identifiable
as a bringer of order, assistance and friendliness..? One kind action goes a great
distance, many will help create utopia.
And finally a last request to the NADK-can I have my watch back please. I need it
to measure pulse rates...