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
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.
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.
wishes, Elizabeth Becker