Story of Nuon Sivin, her experience during the war and her message to world leaders

Nuon Sivin, 56, at her home in Preah Punlea village, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Sivin has four sons and one daughter. Photo: Chanthon Uy/Oxfam

A strory of my aunt

“I hate war as it brought destruction to my hometown, it separated me from my parents, sisters and brothers” Nuon Sivin said while her hands becoming trembling and her eyes full of tear.

"I was forcibly separated from my family when I was 13 years old to live with other girls in an organization (Angkar) of Pol Pot in Takeo Province and moved to Boeng Pring village, Thmor Kol district, Battambang province. Like other Cambodian people, I lived in an inhuman regime with forced labour, starvation and sickness, I witnessed many killings of my co-laborers. I thought I would have been killed in next turn."

Sivin paused for a while to swipe off tear and continued “I lost contact of all my family members. In early 1979, fighting broke out in Thmor Kol where I lived, I ran toward the west of Battambang province until I reached the Cambodian and Thailand border. There, I experienced starvation, violence from many armed groups and running for life from shelling, counter fighting and landmines. In 1980, I was moved with thousands of people into Thailand by Thai army from the border into Sras Keo in Thailand as refugee. There, I had foods to eat and lived in groups. In late 1980, I was moved Site 8 Camp where I met my husband. She smiled and said “I was and am lucky to meet my husband during a difficult time. We raised 4 sons (twin of sons) in the war zone. I never forget the good deed of Barang (she refers to foreigners who were working in the camp) for saving my twin (premature and underweight). As refugee, we were not allowed go outside of the crowded camp."

"I wish to call to the world leaders that don’t make war, stop the war and let refugees refuge in a safe place, refugees are human being, no one want to leave their hometown and family."