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Foreign Correspondents To Honor Fallen Comrades

Foreign journalists who covered Cambodia’s conflict will return in April to hold a ceremony for nearly 70 fallen comrades and establish a memorial in Phnom Penh.

Reporters and photographers from various Western agencies will join Cambodian colleagues from their past to remember the reporters who died covering Cambodia as it descended into war in the 1970s.

The group will arrive just after April 17, the 35th anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh to Khmer Rouge guerrillas.

“The presence of those journalist was a historic event that we did not pay attention to, so we should build a small stupa carved with all their names,” Chhang Song, who was a Lon Nol information minister and is helping organize the event, told VOA Khmer.

“I think that they came and died to find out the truth in Cambodia, and they had honorable value,” he said.

A similar memorial in France carries the names of 14 journalists and photographers, many of them Cambodian.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said last week a memorial will be built for the fallen reporters.

More than 20 Cambodian reporters died covering the conflict, along with more than 40 foreign reporters, from the US, India, Australia, France, Japan, Switzerland, Laos and Germany.

April’s visiting journalists plan to visit a pagoda outside of Phnom Penh where nine journalists were ambushed and killed by the Khmer Rouge.

The reporters were eyewitnesses to the Cambodian tragedy, Chhang Song said. They hated the war, but have since “lost view of Cambodia.”

“Some of them after 40 years do not know where Cambodia is going now, and this is a big event to make them realize that Cambodia survived,” he said.

The reunion will be a first for the reporters, and for many it may be the last. Most of the journalists who covered the war are now between 60 and 80 years old, Chhang Song said.