Thursday, August 15, 2013

The first director

Ung Pech's pictures on the walls of Tuol Sleng, the museum's first director
In the first of John Pilger's programme's on Cambodia in 1979, Year Zero, he interviewed one of the survivor's of Tuol Sleng, Ung Pech (pictured above), whose life was spared because of his skill as a mechanic. Arrested in Kompong Som in 1977, he was sent to S-21 and survived. He went onto become the first Director of Tuol Sleng when it opened to the public as a Genocide Museum on 7 January 1980, a year after its liberation. In the interview he described how he lost his wife and five of his children to starvation and how he himself was tortured. Ung Pech remained as Director until the early '90s and traveled with Mai Lam (a Vietnamese colonel assigned the task of converting S-21 into a genocide museum) to France, the USSR, and Eastern Europe in the early 1980s to visit museums and exhibits memorializing the Holocaust. Pech passed away in late 1996. A couple of months ago, a German Rolleiflex model camera from the 1930s or 1940s was handed into DC-Cam by Pech's only surviving son, Ing Veng Eang, after years in his family’s possession. He told DC-Cam that his father used the camera to document Khmer Rouge crimes, including mass graves in the countryside. “This camera was kept by my father until 1996 when he had to travel to the US for heart surgery. I just kept it in a box and never used it because there was no longer any suitable film. I never thought of the camera’s importance [until now],” Veng Eang said. You can see Pech on the    group of survivors photo that was taken in 1979, when only seven survivors had been identified. They were: [RtoL] Chum Mey, Ruy Neakong*, Im Chan*, Vann Nath*, Bou Meng, Phan Than Chan* and Ung Pech*. Only two of those pictured survive today - Chum Mey and Bou Meng.
The 7 survivors pictured in 1979. Pech is on the far right.

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Blogger Noran Ing said...

very surprise to see my dad pictures after so many yrs

February 13, 2014 at 2:36 PM  

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