April of 1975 was different. I was twelve years old and all of Battambang City should have been preparing to celebrate the Cambodian New Year with competitions and games for children to play, and an abundance of food to give to the monks. Instead of a gloriously festive time, the city was quiet except for the sound of guns and explosions outside the city, and the murmurs of thousands of terrified people from the countryside that had crowded into our city to find safety from what was happening in their villages and on their farms. These refugees from the country had been trickling into Battambang City for several years, but now it had become a flood of dark-skinned people, and the city was crowded with them. Food shortages were becoming serious and prices were increasing. Lon Nol’s government soldiers were fighting their final desperate battles against the Khmer Rouge Communists, and I was uneasy seeing how frightened these refugees were. I didn’t understand what they could be so afraid of.
Spare Them? No Profit. Remove Them? No Loss.
by Chhalith Ou and R. Z. Halleson, page 3.
Children see impending war differently than adults do. Are they more afraid or less afraid?