Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Australia’s involvement in the Cambodian Peace Process
During 1993, I travelled independently to Cambodia to conduct a series of oral history interviews documenting Australia’s involvement in the UN peace process and the running of the country’s first free and fair elections after years of civil war, and genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge.
The self-funded project, resulting in more than 70 interviews, aimed to ensure the contribution of Australians working in Cambodia during that time was not forgotten.
The interviews were published in my book Shooting at the Moon which was launched by Gareth Evans at the National Press Club in 1994. Photographer Heide Smith captured images of the peace workers for the book and her collection is now held by the Australian War Memorial.
In late 2021, I was approached by Pablo Kang, the Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, to produce a series of podcasts based on the chapters in the book. The series coincides with the 30th anniversary of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia and the 1993 UN elections in the country.
It was an emotional and often challenging journey after almost 30 years to locate and reconnect with the many interviewees. Their stories describe the post traumatic shock experienced by Australian soldiers and federal police, the murder of a UN catering contractor, and the harrowing experiences of human rights workers, aid workers and contractors during a dangerous and volatile period in history.
Importantly, these stories provide a comprehensive history of events. The UN military contingent, led by Australia’s peace general, John Sanderson, helped ensure the elections were not derailed by the Khmer Rouge and the political murders and intimidation by the state of Cambodia in the lead up to the elections.
These stories can be heard on Spotify and through my website www.cambodianpeaceworkers.com.au.
Producer and Publisher