Claire Ly was born in Cambodia on October 25, 1946, in a well-to-do family of businessmen. Graduate in Law and Philosophy, she became a teacher and then a Ministry of Public Education law officer. She was deported in 1975 to a forced-labour camp, where she was detained until 1979, when, at the moment of the regime collapse, she went to France. Hiding her well-to-do origins, she managed to survive with her two children, thanks to the Khmer Rouge’s identification as “labour primary force”. In those years, her husband, father and brothers were killed. She found in her self the strength and courage to resist, also through Christianity conversion.
Claire Ly describes her tenacious fight for survival in the book Back from Hell, a precious testimony of the Cambodian genocide. A tree and a memorial stone are dedicated to her in the Garden of the Righteous Worldwide, in Milan, since April 17, 2012.