Cambodian journalist Thet Sambath, whose work reporting on the Khmer Rouge over a decade was made into an award-winning documentary, was presented the Knight International Journalism award in Washington Tuesday.
But he said more work needs to be done before the secrets of the Khmer Rouge perish with the aging members of the regime.
“This is an honor for me,” he told VOA Khmer at the awards ceremony in Washington. He also acknowledged two other award-winners, Rocio Idalia Gallegos Rodriguez and Sandra Rodriguez Nieto, investigative journalists from Mexico who have reported on drug cartels.
“I think he really deserves it,” said Rob Lemkin, who co-produced “Enemies of the People,” with Thet Sambath. “It’s an incredible honor to be given this award for him and really is genuine recognition of his ten years of incredible journalism, research, and investigation that he did. Many years on his own he struggled, not knowing whether he would ever complete his task.”
The three journalists joined famed TV news journalist Christiane Amanpour, who was presented the International Center for Journalists’ Founders Award for Excellence in Journalism.
“These extraordinary journalists dare to tell stories that few have the courage to address,” ICFJ President Joyce Barnathan said in a statement. “Because of them, we have an essential understanding of the tragedies faced by citizens in Mexico and Cambodia.”
Thet Sambath said his work contributed a small part to the Khmer Rouge history.
“If our Cambodian journalists want to do research on the Khmer Rouge regime, there is a lot more,” he said. “We don’t need to wait for 30 more years; if we do, then those who know the real stories of the Khmer Rouge regime will all be gone. We will lose the chance.”