Reach Sambath

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Reach Sambath
Born (1964-07-17)17 July 1964
Svay Rieng, Cambodia
Died 11 May 2011(2011-05-11) (aged 47)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Nationality Cambodian
Education Master's degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Occupation Spokesperson at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
Spouse(s) Chhoy Chanthy
Children 1 daughter & 2 sons
Parents unknown

Reach Sambath (Khmer: រាជ សម្បតិ្ត) (17 July 1964 – 11 May 2011) was a Cambodian journalist and a former spokesperson and "Chief of Public Affairs" of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), commonly known as the "Khmer Rouge Tribunal", set up to try the most senior Khmer Rouge leaders from 1975-1979.[1] Sambath had a master’s degree from Columbia University and a career as a university lecturer at the Royal University of Phnom Penh and a reporter in Cambodia with Agence France-Presse since the 1990s.[2]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Reach was born in Svay Rieng, Cambodia. His father was a district governor there. In 1975, at the age of 10, he lost his father and later lost his mother and three of his four brothers to the Khmer Rouge's Killing Fields. For years, he searched for any scrap of memory of his lost family, eventually retrieving an old picture of his father from a family friend taken when he was a monk for a short-time in a Buddhist pagoda. After the Khmer Rouge period, he eked out a living as a roadside ice seller and a bike taxi-driver from 1981 to 1984 to support his studies.[3]

He attended Wat Phnom Primary School, and graduated from Sisowath High School or Lycée Sisowath, one of the most famous high schools in 1987. In 1984, because of some English knowledge he acquired in school, he became an English teacher. During his toughest times living as an orphan, Reach Sambath stayed at a pagoda as a pagoda boy, and received support from relatives and people around him.

1980s: Education[edit]

After graduation from high school, he was one of the first students after the Khmer Rouge reign to receive a scholarship to study Agriculture in India. After the election organized by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia in 1993, Reach pursued his studies in the field of Journalism at Chulalongkorn University. He would later receive his masters degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, while on leave from Agence France-Presse.[4]

Careers[edit]

As a journalist[edit]

After studying a bachelor's degree in Agriculture in India from 1988 to 1991, Reach returned to Cambodia and worked as a reporter for Agence-France Presse (AFP), a French news agency based in Cambodia in 1991. He worked there until 2002. In an interview with an RFI,[5] Reach said that he did not have a strong like for his Agriculture courses, but instead developed an unexpected interest in the press while he was studying in India. He was probably one of the first Cambodians to work for a foreign news agency, and he covered the nation's first post-regime election, a coup, an on-going civil war and finally the collapse of the Khmer Rouge insurgency as well as the death of Pol Pot.[6] He also worked as a reporter and translator for the New York Times of which global edition is The International Herald Tribune.

As a journalism lecturer[edit]

Reach became a journalism trainer in 1997. Since 2003, he taught Journalism at the Department of Media and Communication (RUPP), the first and only journalism school at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, something he had continued to do after he joined the tribunal staff in 2006.[7]

As spokesman at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal[edit]

In February 2006, he became a Cambodian spokesman at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, ECCC. He was also regarded by the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime as "Spokesperson for the ghosts." [8] Then, in June 2009, he was promoted to be a chief of public affairs of the ECCC.

As spokesman for the UN-backed genocide tribunal, his worked involved answering the local and international press, and his latest work included outreach to some 4000 students in Battambang over the workings of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, the government and UN roles within it.[9]

Death[edit]

He fell in his office on Tuesday, suffering from an apparent major stroke from high blood pressure, and died on May 11, 2011 at the age of 47, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.[10] His death was called as "a great loss, a big loss for the human resource of the nation," by the acting director of the journalism school.[11]

Achievements[edit]

In recognition of his contributions to the nation, the Royal Government of Cambodia awarded Reach Sambath the “Mony Saraphoan” medal at the “Maha Sereivann” grade on May 12, 2011. Previously in 2000, he received an award from the US-based Human Rights Watch for his life story before and after the Khmer Rouge regime.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Luke Hunt (12 May 2011). "Reach Sambath, 1964-2011". The Diplomat. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "Reach Sambath, Revered Journalism Mentor, Dies". VOA Khmer. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Former AFP journalist Reach Sambath dies". Agence France-Presse. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Seth Mydans (May 14, 2011). "Reach Sambath; journalist spoke for ‘ghosts’ in Cambodia". Boston.com. 
  5. ^ "រាជ សម្បត្តិ៖ « ឡេ នីននិយាយថារៀនហើយរៀនទៀតរៀនទាល់តែសា្លប់". Radio France International. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  6. ^ Seth Mydans (13 May 2011). "Reach Sambath, Tribunal Spokesman in Cambodia, Dies at 47". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Seth Mydans (13 May 2011). "Reach Sambath, Tribunal Spokesman in Cambodia, Dies at 47". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  8. ^ A. Lin Neumann (6 October 2006). "Spokesperson for Ghosts". Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Reach Sambath, Revered Journalism Mentor, Dies". VOA Khmer. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  10. ^ Seth Mydans (13 May 2011). "Reach Sambath, Tribunal Spokesman in Cambodia, Dies at 47". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Reach Sambath, Revered Journalism Mentor, Dies". VOA Khmer. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 

External links[edit]