In memory of Atsuhito Nakata
Bonn, Germanny: On 8 April 1993, exactly 20 years ago today, Atsuhito Nakata (Atsu), a Japanese UN Volunteer working as a District Electoral Supervisor with the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), was killed in a tragic ambush along with his Khmer interpreter, Lek Sophiep, in the province of Kampong Thom. He was 25 years old.
Atsu was one of 465 UN Volunteers District Electoral Supervisors deployed in Cambodia with UNTAC in 1992. Alongside 50,000 Cambodian nationals, they were at the forefront of the first national elections organized in the country. They worked and lived with local communities, helped organize electoral processes at community level, and carried out massive campaigns to inform the Cambodian population about elections and democratic principles.
In recognition of Atsu’s contribution and dedication to promoting world peace, he was awarded the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold medal in 1998, which his father, Takehito Nakata received on his behalf.
Takehito Nakata was appointed Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, and carried on Atsuhito’s desire to contribute to world peace and development. Serving as the sole Honorary Ambassador for UNV for 20 years, he promoted volunteerism throughout the world and played an important role in the proclamation of 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers.
Mr Nakata also established the Atsuhito Nakata Memorial Foundation to support international development projects and volunteer initiatives. The fund aided construction of a school in Atsuhito Village, where his son was killed, which is a living memorial to Atsu.
Friends and fellow UN Volunteers who were in Cambodia in 1993 describe Atsu as a dynamic, active and passionate young man.
"Atsu was idealistic, determined, energetic and eager to make a difference… he did not like compromise," said Stephen Kinloch Pichat, a former UN Volunteer District Electoral Supervisor in Cambodia (1992-3) on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Atsuhito Nakata’s death.
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