Cambodian played flute to escape death in Khmer Rouge labour camp


Arn Chorn-Pond was a child in Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. Born into a family of artists and musicians, he was sent to a children's labour camp where he escaped death by playing his flute for the camp guards.

His brother and sister starved to death and he had to attend daily executions at the camp before he finally fled his captors when Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia in 1979.

In a refugee camp in Thailand, Peter Pond, a Lutheran minister and aid worker, adopted him in 1980 and took him to the United States.

Today, Arn Chorn-Pond is a musician and activist. He created several organisations, including Children of War, and Cambodian Volunteers for Community Development.

He has just launched Season of Cambodia in New York, the first major Cambodian cultural festival in the US, including performances from 125 Cambodian artists.

As a Cambodian-American, he considers the festival his personal answer to the US bombing of Cambodia. "The US bombed Cambodia," he says. "I am carpeting New York with artists."

Produced by Anna Bressanin; camera by Ilya Shnitser

First Person

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