Dear Youk,


First, I’m very please that you will be using the photograph for your magazine. I am a great admirer of your work and would like to help you in any way I can.


Now for the details of the photograph: I took the photograph in December 1978, about two weeks before the Vietnamese invasion. We were at Krek, near the Vietnamese-Cambodian border off National Route Seven in what was then known as the Eastern Zone. Comrade Pin is in the background. (As you know Pin was not only a top leader in the Eastern Zone but he was also associated with the security police headquartered at Tuol Sleng.) In the foreground are young soldiers whom I presume fought when the Vietnamese invaded a few weeks later.


We were the first and last Western journalists to see Cambodia under the rule of Pol Pot as well as the actual battlefield where the Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge had been fighting that summer.


We were under very heavy guard. We could hear the sound of artillery in the distance and far off in the direction of the border I saw clouds of smoke from artillery exchanges. Otherwise the battlefield was quiet and we saw very, very few people along the road or in the fields.


Comrade Pin was anxious to prove that the Khmer Rouge were in control of Krek and would fend off the Vietnamese invaders. He said that the party had “eliminated” the “agents infiltrated by the Vietnamese,” what I took to be a reference to the wholesale slaughter of the Eastern Zone cadres.


The Vietnamese captured Krek a few weeks later.


I was in the company of two other western journalists¾Malcolm Caldwell and Dick Dudman. Several nights later we were all attacked at the guest house in Phnom Penh and Dr. Caldwell was murdered.


Please ask if you need any other information.


Next year I hope to visit Cambodia and would like to see you then.


Best wishes, Elizabeth Becker