Ron Moreau

Stories by Ron Moreau

  • Reliving The Nightmare

    Most flee in flimsy houseboats. Others crowd on to buses and trucks, or pile their belongings onto bicycles. Tens of thousands of ethnic Vietnamese are leaving their homes in Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge. Coldblooded attacks have killed more than 100 people in the 18 months since the country's warring factions signed a formal peace agreement. Some 70 of them have died since last month, when guerrillas began to machine-gun floating villages as the people slept. Last week clusters of up to 500 boats inched down the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers past the capital and on toward the border. "No one thought of leaving before the massacres," said Cambodian-born Nguyen Thi Loi in the tiny cabin of a fishing sampan with her husband, two sisters and mother. "We don't want to go to Vietnam." But Cambodians weren't complaining. "I'm happy to see them leaving," said Thi Da, a university student, as he watched from a bridge. "This is my country." ...
  • The 'Saigon Virus: It's Catching

    Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam's founding father, would have been appalled. After the North won the civil war in 1975, its leaders renamed Saigon after the Communist leader and cracked down hard on what they considered its bourgeois decadence. But today billboards advertising MasterCard and Toshiba overshadow fading portraits of Ho. At a tony new restaurant in a restored colonial villa, a Japanese businessman murmurs into his cellular phone while dining with a young Vietnamese woman. The Floating Hotel, filled with guests paying $150 a night, features a weekly Texas Barbecue Night. High-school girls venture forth wearing the delicate ao dai-a traditional silk tunic worn over nearly transparent pants, still officially banned as indecent. Cranes and pile drivers are everywhere. And Vietnamese children once again greet Westerners with a friendly hello, rather than the taunt, "Lien So"-Soviet. Says a French banker, "When you're drinking, eating and enjoying yourself, you can easily forget there's...
  • Cambodia: 'This Is My Home'

    Living in Tippadei can be deadly. The village sits at the base of a mountain that Khmer Rouge guerrillas and the Cambodian Army fought over for years and left strewn with land mines. Last month a 7-year-old girl stepped on one and died; a recent brush fire set off 20 more. Malaria, dengue fever and armed robbery are rampant. Yet 1,246 people have returned to Tippadei, swelling its population by half, since the United Nations began helping refugees leave camps across the nearby Thai border last March. "We preach at them, plead with them not to go back to these dangerous areas," says a U.N. official. "But we can't stop them from going where they damn well please." After years of dislocation, the only place many refugees want to go is back where they came from. "I know it's not safe here, but this is my home, and I'll stay until I die," says Doueng Noi, 50, who returned to help his elderly father and work a small rice farm. ...
  • Sex And Death In Thailand

    When Pon and Tai were 15, a woman showed up one day in their village in Burma, just across the Thai border. She promised to take the two girls on a sight seeing tour of Bangkok. When they got there, she dropped them off at a brothel. They were locked up, and their virginity was quickly sold for $40. Soon, they say, they were forced to service four or five customers a day-up to a dozen on weekends without payment. Fearful of AIDS, which they learned about from Thai television, they offered to buy clients condoms out of their meager tip money. Most men refused. Now both girls are being cared for at Bangkok's Emergency Home for Women and have tested HIV-positive, according to officials at the home. "The men knew about AIDS but didn't care," says Pon, now 17 "They certainly didn't care about us." ...
  • The Perilous Road Home

    They're terrified of going home. "I'm afraid some villagers will hate us, even harm us, " said Serei Thi, 35. She was washing clothes last week in a stifling, dusty transit center set up for the first group of Cambodians to be bused back from refugee camps in Thailand since the 1970s. " I think I'll stay home and not look for a job until the United Nations holds elections, " said Sokim San, 28, adding: "I'm afraid of Cambodian politics. " Ghien Ien, 33, said his friends and relatives among the roughly 375,000 Cambodians waiting in camps across the border made him promise to write them once he reaches his home village. "[They're] waiting for me to tell them if Cambodia is safe to return to, if the war is over. " ...
  • Roughing Up The Khmer Rouge

    Khieu Samphan didn't look like a mass murderer. But as the pudgy, 60-year-old economist cowered in an upstairs room at a villa in Phnom Penh, an angry mob of Cambodians howled for his head. "Khieu Samphan's hands are dripping with Cambodian blood," some of them shouted. Then dozens of rioters burst through an invitingly thin screen of policemen and soldiers. Racing upstairs, they attacked Khieu Samphan, the nominal leader of the hated Khmer Rouge, and several of his aides. They kicked and punched them and showered them with rocks. Someone threw a wire over a ceiling fan, apparently for the purpose of stringing Khieu Samphan up. Finally the Cambodian authorities intervened in force, and when order was restored, foreign journalists found the Khmer Rouge leader huddled against a wall, wearing a steel helmet and bleeding profusely from a superficial head wound. "Please help me," he whimpered in French. "Please don't leave me." ...
  • Mias: Help From Hanoi

    On a hillside in Vietnam's Quang Binh province, American experts and Vietnam laborers have dug a massive pit. They work shovelfuls of dirt through fine, wire-mesh sifters. In three days, they turn up only bullets, metal fragments and aircraft springs. Their mission: to find proof that a Navy pilot was killed when he flew his A-7 attack jet into the mountain in 1968. "It's very grueling work," says Maj. Brenda Bradley, 42, her brown T shirt soaked with sweat. And there is no guarantee of success. Says Sara Collins, the search team's archeologist: "Sometimes there is simply not enough left to make an ID." ...
  • In Vietnam: Remembering 'The Terror'

    During the Vietnam War, B-52s dropped millions of tons of bombs on North Vietnamese targets. Last week NEWSWEEK's Ron Moreau, who covered the war and saw B-52 strikes firsthand, returned to Hanoi to talk to civilians and military sources about their recollections:Anyone who has survived a B-52 bombing raid will never forget it. Some say it's like being caught in an earthquake, others like being struck by lightning. Still others recall its deafening roar. If the explosion doesn't kill you, the bomb's concussion can. A B-52 raid can suck the air out of your lungs and shatter your eardrums. American soldiers used to tell tales of seeing North Vietnamese soldiers who had survived a B-62 strike staggering around the moonscape of bomb craters, bleeding profusely from the nose and ears.The residents of Hanoi's Kham Thien Street will certainly never forget the night of Dec. 26,1972, when a B-52 destroyed a square half-mile of their neighborhood during America's massive "Christmas bombing."...