During the 1980s, many Cambodians who had been fortunate enough to survive the Khmer Rouge regime and the conflicts that preceded and followed tried to put those terrible years behind them and bring normalcy into their lives.
But not Youk Chhang. Shortly after his arrival in United States in 1986, the young Cambodian joined efforts to expose the regime that had caused the death of an estimated two million people between April 1975 and January 1979. This quest would ultimately bring him back to Cambodia in 1993 to research and build archives for an undertaking that later became the Documentation Center of Cambodia.
As executive director of DC-Cam, Mr. Chhang’s work has included seeking and archiving testimonies from Cambodians who lived through the Khmer Rouge years and locating the mass graves that pepper the country. These tireless efforts recently earned him the accolade often described as Asia’s equivalent to the Nobel prize: the Ramon Magsaysay Award (RMA).
The RMA is named after the Philippines’ President Ramon Magsaysay, whose efforts to end conflict and corruption in his country made him highly popular before his death in a plane crash in 1957.
As part of his stand against impunity in Cambodia and elsewhere, Mr. Chhang was member of the eminent-persons group who helped found the Institute for International Criminal Investigations in The Hague in 1993. He was named one of TIME magazine’s “60 Asian heroes” in 2006 and one of the “TIME 100” most influential people in the world in 2007.
According to english.cambodiadaily.com