Dr. Gaffar Peang-Meth

Gaffar Peang-Meth was born in 1944 at Phum Russey Keo, a suburb of Phnom Penh. He was schooled in Cambodia and was accepted by the American Field Service student exchange program, through which he graduated from Chagrin Falls High School in Ohio in 1962. From 1963-1967, he attended Hiram College in Ohio and received a Bachelor’s degree in political science. While at Hiram, he participated in the Drew University United Nations Program in New Jersey. He received a Master’s Degree in government from Georgetown University in 1969.  Peang-Meth earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Comparative Government and Politics of Southeast Asia from the University of Michigan (1980).

Peang-Meth was influenced by republicanism and republican ideals while in undergraduate and graduate schools. Viewing Cambodia’s policies of accommodation to the Vietcong-North Vietnamese as compromising the country’s neutrality and sovereignty, he took a semester out of graduate school to return to Cambodia, where he joined Khmer Krom and Cham soldiers at Taing Kauk and other battlegrounds.

Back in the United States, he published The Republic bulletin from Ann Arbor. In 1972, he was invited to join the Khmer Republic’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, working under Long Boret. In 1973, he joined the Khmer Republic’s Embassy in Washington, D.C., as press attaché, where he served until the collapse of the Khmer Republic in April 1975.

From 1976-1979, Dr. Peang-Meth and a group of Khmer expatriates formed the Committee of Cambodians Abroad to engage in the resettlement of Cambodian refugees.  He edited an anti-Khmer Rouge publication and formed a support committee for the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front to oppose Vietnam’s 1979 military invasion of Cambodia.

In 1980, Peang-Meth became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In September 1980, he arrived at the Khmer-Thai border to join the KPNLF. He served in the Khmer Resistance in different capacities until 1989.  Peang-Meth left the Khmer-Thai border in November 1989 when the political situation required the transformation from armed liberation to a negotiated settlement.

Returning to the United States, Dr. Peang-Meth pursued an academic career. He was Visiting Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University in 1990, and went on to teach political science at the University of Guam from 1991 through 2004, when he retired. He wrote a weekly column for Guam’s Pacific Daily News until 2012, and also was a regular contributor to the Asian Human Rights Commission’s publication. Edited versions of his columns have been compiled by Dr. Sovathana Sokhom into a book of short readings [What is Your Ten Minutes Worth?]. Dr. Peang-Meth has published in professional journals and has presented at conferences in the United States mainland and on Guam, in the Philippines, South Korea, and Singapore.

In 2015, award-winning cinematographer Ellen Grant, J.D., invited Dr. Peang-Meth to serve as an advisor on her production of an English-language documentary film, Cyber-Democracy: Cambodia, Kafka’s Kingdomhttps://vimeo.com/ 146853283. Subsequently, as a result of their joint collaboration and the assistance of Dr. Peang-Meth’s team—translator, narrator, and sound team—a Khmer language version of the film was produced.  https://vimeo.com/ 142456919.