April 1, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Cambodian Genocide Survivor and Human Rights Activist, April 19

Ohio University welcomes Arn Chorn-Pond on Tuesday, April 19, at 7 p.m. in Schoonover 145.

He will be available for an informal conversation at the Center for Law, Justice & Culture on April 19 from 4-5 p.m.  in Bentley Hall 001. All are invited.

His visit is sponsored by the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and others.

Arn Chorn-Pond

Arn Chorn-Pond

Arn Chorn-Pond is a survivor of the Cambodian genocide and founder of Cambodian Living Arts.

He is a human rights activist committed to preserving traditional Cambodian (Khmer) music.

Arn is the subject of the critically acclaimed book, Never Fall Down (2012). He was featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary, The Flute Player.

He is also the recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award, the Anne Frank Memorial Award, the Kohl Foundation International Peace Prize, and two honorary doctorates for peace and humanitarian service.

Chorn-Pond was a child soldier in the Khmer Rouge, who survived by playing music in an ensemble that performed music to mask the sound of killings.

He eventually escaped to Thailand as the Vietnamese army began moving west across Cambodia.

A former Director of Youth Programs for the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association in Lowell, MA, Chorn-Pond served as a special adviser on Cambodian affairs for Clear Path International in early 2001.

He was born into a family of artists from Cambodia’s second-largest city, Battambang, where his parents ran an opera house.

As a part of the targeting of artists and intellectuals, the Khmer Rouge soldiers separated his family in 1975, and he was sent to a children’s labor camp. There, he was taken under the tutelage of a traditional arts master and learned to play the Cambodian hammered dulcimer, Khim.

Unlike most of the other children in the camp, Chorn-Pond escaped death by playing propaganda music for the Khmer Rouge generals during massive executions.

He later fled his captors when Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia in 1979 and he managed to reach a refugee camp in Thailand, where Peter Pond, a Lutheran minister and aid worker, befriended and later adopted him in 1980.

Educated in the United States, attending Brown University and graduating from Providence College, Chorn-Pond began a series of community rebuilding projects and founded several organizations, including Children of War, Cambodian Volunteers for Community Development and Peace Makers, a U.S.-based gang-intervention project for Southeast Asian youth.

In the mid-1990s, Chorn-Pond returned to Cambodia on a mission to rebuild the legacy of his family’s involvement in Cambodian opera and to find his music teacher from the time of the Khmer Rouge.

He “discovered” that other master artists who had miraculously survived the war and the resulting genocide were surviving in extremely difficult living conditions. The Cambodian Masters Performers Program, now Cambodian Living Arts, was born.

As the Director of Youth Programs for the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association in Lowell, Chorn-Pond served as a special advisor on Cambodian affairs for Clear Path International in early 2001.

Today, he resides in Cambodia, where he continues to be the chief advocate of Cambodian Living Arts. He is an accomplished musician, recording artist and performer and runs the original music production company Waterek Production.

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