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On the book’s cover, above, is, on the left, the heroine, Sovan; I’m on the right. In the background is Cambodia’s most famous temple, Angkor Wat. We both worked for UNTAC, United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia, which was organizing and directing the 1993 election in Cambodia that ended Cambodia’s civil war.
I was there from the beginning to the end of the operation. Sovan was hired a few months after I was.
In 1992, and in the first months of 1993, many people started either returning to or going to Cambodia for the first time–some of them came back from the border camps in trains while others, like Prince Sihanouk, the former king; Khieu Samphan, the spokesperson for the Khmer Rouge; United Nations officials, and me, flew in.
The next 11 pictures show life in Phnom Penh in 1992 and 93. At that same time, in the countryside, de-mining operations were in full swing as were efforts to provide land mine victims with artificial limbs.
Just outside of Phnom Penh is a “killing field,” Choeung Ek.
I had only been in Cambodia a few weeks when I was sent around Cambodia to collect statistics related to the upcoming election. Among other places, I visited Seam Reap, Angkor Wat, and I was in the first helicopter to fly to the remote province of Preah Vihar.
Most of the remainder of my time in Cambodia was spent working for the “Electoral Component” and much of that time was spent in the Computer Center and Electoral Headquarters.
One of my assignments was to design the ballot for the election.
It sounds kind of boring but during that time bullets were flying, some of which hit and killed the four Electoral Component colleagues I dedicated the book to, and I was having what I thought was the romance of a lifetime. So it was the opposite of boring, sometimes, way too much the opposite of boring.
As election time grew closer terror incidents, gun battles, and massacres were happening every day.
The last few pictures are from the jubilant election day and the counting of ballots. The final picture was taken as the computer center was closing and the staff posed with the international staff for a final picture.
For the details of life in Cambodia as the civil war was ending, the election, the fighting, the nightlife, the romance, and everything else, you will have to read the book which is available from Amazon.com and Guernicaeditions.com .