Forced to flee Phnom Penh with his family in 1975, Bun Heang Ung, then a 23 year old university student studying art, headed for his home village, Maesor Prachan, 40 kilometres northeast of the capital in Prey Veng province where he was assigned to work units repairing paddies, planting and harvesting rice or building dams. Bun witnessed atrocities and executions, purges of Khmer Rouge cadre and the massacre of more than thirty of his own relatives.
In 1977 Bun he married Phiny and they survived together until the arrival of the Vietnamese liberators two years later. They returned to Phnom Penh and Bun found work as an animator. In December 1979, they headed for the Thai border and stayed in the Khao-I-Dang refugee camp before being accepted for resettlement in Australia. Miraculously, all of Bun's immediate family had survived an ordeal lasting nearly four years from which few families emerged unscathed. Phiny wasn't so fortunate. She lost her father, three brothers, two sisters and more than fifty other relatives.
Today, Bun and Phiny are settled in Sydney and have four children. He now draws cartoons for feature films and is the political cartoonist for the Far Eastern Economic Review.
This drawing is from a series of 90 original black and white drawings in Indian ink on art paper held by the ANU Library. They depict Bun’s personal experience under the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979. On the back of each artwork is a caption written in English and some with handwritten Khmer script.
The series of drawings has been digitised and can be found online on the ANU Open Research website - https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/9179