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In Mandela, Lessons for Khmer Rouge Survivors, Former Ambassador Says

  • Reasey Poch
  • VOA Khmer

Mourners line up after waiting for hours to get into a bus to go to the Union Buildings where the casket of Nelson Mandela lies in state for three days in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.

Mourners line up after waiting for hours to get into a bus to go to the Union Buildings where the casket of Nelson Mandela lies in state for three days in Pretoria, Dec. 11, 2013.

The people of the 21st Century are very fortunate to have had the influence of Nelson Mandela, a former ambassador says.

And although he has left us, Mandela’s legacy will live on in generations to come, according to former US ambassador to the UN, Sichan Siv.

Speaking to VOA Khmer by telephone on Tuesday from his home in San Antonia, Texas, the former Cambodian refugee, who served under former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, said the lessons we all can learn from Mandela are of tolerance, non-violence and national reconciliation.

“The lessons we learn from Mr. Mandela can apply to all corners of the world whether it’s Europe, Africa, or Asia,” he said.

Mandela was in jail for 27 years in his fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Released from jail in 1990, Mandela forgave his jailers for the sake of national reconciliation. He went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize and become the first black president of South Africa.

Asked whether he forgives the Khmer Rouge, whose hardline communist regime was responsible for the death of his family members, Sichan Siv said he is willing to forgive.

“What happened to me and my family and my countrymen under the Khmer Rouge, I cannot forget,” he said. “But we must move on.”
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