Arn Chorn-Pond: why the arts are as important as hospitals in Cambodia

Of all the ways to learn a musical instrument, Arn Chorn-Pond’s experience is one of the more unusual. When the ultra-communist Khmer Rouge regime seized Cambodia in 1975, he was spared the murder that befell 80-90% of the country’s artists and musicians, including his parents, who ran an opera group. Instead, the cadres running his labour camp forced him to learn the flute to play propaganda songs that the regime would blast from speakers to dull the screams of victims as they were tortured and killed.

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