Sunday 22 November 2009

Disaster history in Cambodia

The Khmer Rouge genocide is back on the curriculum of Cambodian schools. The subject dropped off the agenda in the mid-90’s when the remaining Maoist leaders made peace. The presence of former Khmer Rouge members in the government made it a particularly sensitive subject.

Now a new text book will tell the story of the murder of up to 1.75 million people – a quarter of the country’s population – in the five years during which Pol Pot’s fanatics ruled. The victims died from exhaustion, starvation, disease, torture or execution.

Meanwhile, in a Phnom Penh courtroom, final arguments will be heard this week in the case of Kaing Guek Eav, alias Comrade Duch, who ran the notorious Tuol Sleng “special interrogation centre” in the Cambodian capital, which was reserved for suspected “traitors” within the party. Now a genocide museum, of 15,000 people held there, only seven are thought to have survived.

Duch, who has become a born-again Christian, has asked for forgiveness for his crimes. See also my blogs of Jan 7, March 4 and June 29.

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