LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas man has published a book on his harrowing time as a prisoner of a brutal totalitarian regime in southeast Asia: The Khmer Rouge of Cambodia.
His story is one of surviving the horror of the killing fields and his eventual triumph by escaping to the United States.
A successful Longview businessman, Sophanna Sok had a frightening journey just to get to America, which he’s now captured in his book, Escaped Execution.
"There is no way a communist regime can hold you, the only thing is execute you. They tortured me, they questioning me. If you're not smart enough I don't think you can find the answer to tell them," Sok says.
A Cambodian native, he was held in concentration camps under the brutal 1970′s regime of the Khmer Rouge, arrested and imprisoned 4 times.
"They begin to execute all of the leaders under arrest. When you answer and they don't believe you, then they hit you again," he says.
Pol Pot’s regime unleashed unrestrained horror, murdering doctors, lawyers, and intellectuals; one-fifth of the country’s population, nearly 2 million people, were murdered. Sok says death was everywhere.
“The Khmer Rouge was chasing us from behind and I jumped into a pond with no water. I thought the people were alive. All of them in the pond are dead. Executed,” Sophanna says.
"Some of it was so horrifying, for us to have the realization that these atrocities happen in other parts of the world," said book writer Linda Covington Dewebber.
Sok escaped within minutes of his execution.
"I said this is your opportunity, you have to run. I can see the bullets hit behind me, in front of me, to side of me. If I don't get hit I will survive," says Sok.
He hid in the Cambodian hills for months before escaping to America, and his message is to cherish freedom.
“I found freedoms here. A place that allows us to have a new life, and this is a land of opportunity. I love this country,” Sophanna says.
Escaped Execution can be found on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble book stores.