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First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

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First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. Loung Ung. Loung Ung was born in 1970 in Phnom Penh to a middle class family; she was the sixth of seven children. At the time of her birth her native country, Cambodia, was engulfed in a civil war.

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author s background
LoungUng was born in 1970 in Phnom Penh to a middle class family; she was the sixth of seven children.

At the time of her birth her native country, Cambodia, was engulfed in a civil war.

Ung’s mother was Chinese and her father was part Cambodian and part Chinese.

Author’s Background

A civil waris a war in whichpartieswithinthesame culture, societyornationalityfightagainsteachotherforthe control of politicalpower.

loung ung s literary career
Her memoir, First They Killed My Father has been published in eleven countries and translated into German, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, French, Spanish, Italian, Cambodian, and Japanese.

She has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe and the London Sunday Times.

Unghas been an active speaker on Cambodia, and an advocate about the dangers of landmines. She sits on the Advisory Board for the Cambodian Association of Chicago.

She recently completed her second book, Lucky Child: a Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind.

LoungUng’s Literary Career
before the khmer rouge
Before the Khmer Rouge
  • Cambodia, as part of Indo-China, was a French colony from 1863 – 1953.
  • The country, however, remained a monarchy (and is again today).
  • The monarch was ousted in a coup in 1970 by Lon Nol.
  • Lon Nol’s government was widely seen as corrupt.
the khmer rouge
The Khmer Rouge
  • The Khmer Rouge was the ruling political party of Cambodia after overthrowing Lon Nol’s government in Phnom Penh 1975, and retained power until 1979.
  • TheKhmer Rouge isrememberedforthedeaths of anestimated 2 millionpeopleunderitsregime, throughexecution, starvation and forced labor.
the khmer rouge 2
The Khmer Rouge, 2
  • Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge imposedan extreme form of social engineeringonCambodiansociety.
  • A radical form of agrariancommunismwasenforced.
  • Thewholepopulationhadtowork in collectivefarmsorforced labor projects.
the khmer rouge 3
The Khmer Rouge, 3
  • In terms of thenumber of peoplekilled as a proportion of thepopulation (est. 7.5 millionpeople, as of 1975), itwasone of themostlethalregimes of the 20th century.
  • After four years of rule, the Khmer Rouge regime was removed from power in 1979 as a result of an invasion by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
cambodia pol pot s shadow
Cambodia: Pol Pot’s Shadow

background information
Background Information
  • On April 17, 1975, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge stormed into Phnom Penh and forced families at gunpoint to evacuate the city.
  • Loung’s family, like most other families, was forced to move from city to city and live life on the run.
  • Loung’s family must conceal their identity; if the Khmer Rouge learns that her fatherwas an official in Lon Nol’s government, he will be killed.
background information 2
Background Information, 2
  • For the next four years under the Khmer Rouge, there is a constant state of fear, as well as violence, hunger and suffering.
  • Cambodia is like a prison; the citizens are forced to live in villages similar to labor camps.
  • LoungUng’s family is determined to save the children, and decides that the three oldest children must move out of the house to increase the chance of the family’s survival.
pre reading questions
Pre-reading Questions
  • Do you believe that we (as humans) are naturally good? Why? Why not?
  • Do you think it is possible to calculate the cost of war? What factors would go into calculating cost?
pre reading questions 2
Pre-reading Questions, 2
  • How can power facilitate corruption?
  • Is it possible for a society to recover from war? How can people return to an original, uncorrupted state?
and for the next class
And for the next class:
  • How is “ethnic cleansing” defined?
  • What are some of the countries that have done this?
  • What effects does ethnic cleansing have?

Come prepared to share

your research.