Khmer Rouge survivor celebrates Easter - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Khmer Rouge survivor celebrates Easter

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - For an East Texas business owner, Easter is a time of deep gratitude, gratitude that he survived one of the most brutal genocides in modern history, a journey from the Cambodian killing fields to East Texas. For 58 year old Sophanna Sok, Easter has a unique meaning, his own personal resurrection.

"I'm very fortunate that I'm still alive today" he says.

A Cambodian native, he was held in concentration camps under the brutal 1970's regime of the Khmer Rouge. His only crime , he was a 24 year old college student.

"I was stunned because I did not know what I had done, we never had hope, we know we're going to die but just a matter of time before they kill us" Sok says.

Pol Pot's regime unleashed a systematic horror, murdering doctors, lawyers, and intellectuals, a 5th of the country's population, nearly 2 million people, and constant torture.

"Knife ax electric shock, I was beaten very badly , had a plastic bag wrapped around my head, they beat me with a whip and the chains of the bicycle" he says.

Sok and fellow countryman Tep Sopheap escaped shortly before they were to be executed.

"But I managed myself to run away before they tied me up, thousands of landmine's and many people die" Sok says.

They still wear the scars of brutal beatings. Sok now runs a food business in Longview, But for him, Easter is truly a time of rebirth.

"We know that today is a special day for all of us" he says.

Sok plans to write a book about his experiences as a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge. He now lives in Longview with his wife and 5 year old daughter.

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