CONTACT: SCOTT HAUSER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
'Killing Fields' journalist lectures at UI Oct. 27
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Dith Pran, the celebrated Cambodian journalist whose
harrowing escape from his native country was portrayed in the movie "The
Killing Fields," will present a lecture at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27
in the Buchanan Auditorium of the Pappajohn Business Administration Building
at the University of Iowa.
Pran, who describes himself as a "one-person crusade" in reporting
about the genocide that took place in Cambodia in the 1970s, will visit
the UI as an Ida Beam Visiting Professor sponsored by the Office of International
Education in the UI College of Education.
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is presented in conjunction
with "Global Focus '98: Human Rights," the UI's year-long commemoration
of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"Dith Pran is a testament to the power of the human spirit to endure
the kind of political evil that most of us couldn't imagine, let alone
survive," says Paul Retish, director of the Office of International
Education. "He speaks humbly, but powerfully, about individual liberty
and conscience in a way that goes to the heart of what human rights are
Pran and New York Times correspondent Sydney Schanberg reported on the
civil war in Cambodia from 1972 to 1975, staying to cover the fall of Phnom
Penh after other Americans and Cambodian dependents were evacuated. When
the communist Khmer Rouge took over the capital, Pran, Schanberg and two
other journalists were captured and sentenced to death.
Pran convinced Khmer Rouge officials that Schanberg and the other journalists
were neutral French journalists, winning their release. Pran was sentenced
to the Khmer Rouge's forced labor camps, known as the "Killing Fields,"
where he endured starvation and torture. He escaped to Thailand in 1979.
Schanberg won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Cambodian civil
war, accepting on behalf of Pran and himself.
Pran, who has worked as a photojournalist for the New York Times since
1980, lost more than 50 relatives to the Khmer Rouge regime, including
his father, three brothers, a sister and their families.
He is the founder of The Dith Pran Holocaust Awareness Project Inc.
He also served as a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Commissioner
for Refugees in 1985.
He compiled and edited "Children of Cambodia's Killing Fields:
Memoirs by Survivors" (Yale University Press, 1997).
The Ida Beam Visiting Professor program is named after Ida Beam of Vinton,
who willed her farm to the UI Foundation in 1977. With proceeds from the
sale of the farm the UI established a fund to bring top scholars in a variety
of disciplines to the UI for lectures and discussions.
For more information about Global Focus '98, visit the website: http://www.uiowa.edu/~98
Please note: The Institute for Cinema and Culture and the Comparative
Literature Program have scheduled two screenings of the film "The
Killing Fields" to coincide with Pran's visit to campus. The movie
will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 24 in Room 101
of the Becker Communications Building. The screenings are free and open
to the public.