First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

  • Evacuation and the Seven Day Walk

    Evacuation and the Seven Day Walk
    ArticleApril 17th, 1975 the Khmer Rouge troops arrived in Phnom Penh, and everyone was forced to evacuate their homes. Loung Ung and her family left their home with what few belongings they could stock in their truck. Once the truck ran out of gas their 7 day walk began, they only stopped at night to sleep and search for food.
  • Arriving in Krang Truop

    Arriving in Krang Truop
    Loung Ung and her family arrived in Krang Truop on April 24th, 1975. They only spent a few months there becuase Loung's father was affraid that others would recongnize him. Any Cambodian's that had any type of education, job, or even had money were killed cause the Khmer Rouge thought anyone associated with the government would turn on them.
  • Ro Leap

    Ro Leap
    On August 18th, 1975 Loung Ungs family was moved to Ro Leap, another camp for all the 'pesant Cambodians'. This was the Ung's home for the next eighteen months. Cut off from all outside communication and constantly in fear of soldiers who patrolled the village, the Ungs were forced by the Khmer Rouge to work long hours with very little food. Near-starvation and physical exhaustion became a way of life.
  • Sent Away

    Sent Away
    A few months after their arrival at Ro Leap, Loung's oldest brothers, eighteen-year-old Meng and sixteen-year-old Khouy, and her oldest sister, fourteen-year-old Keav, were sent away to work in different camps. The soilders forced them to separate from their family.
  • Keav Dies

    Keav Dies
    Six months later, in August 1976, Keav died of food poisoning at the teenager's work camp at Kong Cha Lat.
  • The Last Time They Saw Their Father

    The Last Time They Saw Their Father
    In December, two soldiers came to Loung Ung's hut and demanded the help of Loung's father to free a stuck wagon not to far from their hut. He was gone for several hours, and Loung and her family waited all day and night for him. They never seen or heard from him since then.
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    Loung and her brother, eleven-year-old Kim, and her two sisters, nine-year-old Chou and four-year-old Geak, remained in Ro Leap with their mother until May 1977. During this time, they avoided starvation with the help of Meng and Khouy, who brought them what little food they could from their work camp, and by Kim, who risked his life late at night by stealing corn from the crops guarded by the soldiers.
  • Separating

    On May 27th, disturbed by screams in the night and the sudden disappearance of a family living close by, Loung's mom sent Kim, Chou, and Loung away from Ro Leap with instructions to pretend they were orphans and never to come back. Kim separated from his sisters, while Loung and Chou found a nearby children's work camp where acting as orphans they were accepted.
  • The New Camp

    The New Camp
    On the 28th of May 1977, after a day of walking Loung and Chou made it to the camp. Here they gained strength with improved food rationing, but still worked all day. It was an all girl camp, but Loung and Chou were bullied but stuck together.
  • Leaving Chou Behind

    Leaving Chou Behind
    On August 8th, 1977, Loung, now seven years old, was assigned to a training camp for child soldiers, and was forced to leave her sister younger sister Chou behind.
  • Period: to

    Learning To Fight

    For the following months, Loung Ung learned how to fight the Vietnamese soldiers.
  • Missing

    In November 1978, Loung left her camp at night without permission, and returned to Ro Leap to see her mother and sister Geak. When she arrived, she found the hut empty, although her mother's belongings were still there. The woman in a hut near by told her that her mother and Geak had been taken away by the soldiers. They also were never seen again.
  • The Vietnamese

    In January 1979, the Vietnamese army gained control of Phnom Penh and continued their invasion westward. Mortar explosions in Loung's camp forced her and the other villagers to flee for their lives. Throughout the chaos, her brother Kim and sister Chou found Loung on the road, and they set out for Pursat City, stopping only to rest and find food.
  • Unexpected

    6 days later, they entered Pursat City, a refugee camp in the control of friendly Vietnamese troops, and eventually they were given shelter by families willing to take them in. The camp was unexpectally attacked by Khmer Rouge soldiers, and Loung and her two siblings, saw more of the horrors of warfare.
  • Reunited

    In March 1979, Meng and Khouy, both who had also escaped their camps when the Vietnamese invaded, arrived at Pursat City.
  • Leaving

    The reunited siblings set out on an eighteen-day walk to Bat Deng, where they stayed with their uncle Leang. During this time Meng married Eang, a 22 year-old Chinese girl who was separated from her family. In time, they learned that Eang's family were safe in Vietnam. Meng and Eang went to see them. They made a plan to get to Thailand and then hoped to the United States.Meng returned alone to Bat Deng. With little resources, he could afford to take one family member with him; he choose Loung.