January 7 and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
|Ms. Theary Seng, Dec. 2011
January 11, 2012
By Theary Seng
Letter to The Phnom Penh Post
January 7 is indeed a significant day for survivors of the Khmer Rouge. It arrested the macabre convulsions that would have swallowed all of us into a hellish hole if the Vietnamese military had not intervened.
It is a bittersweet day of commemoration through invasion.
And now, unfortunately, it is a day propagandised to be solely the Day of Liberation, neatly sweeping away the equally important fact of it being simultaneously the inaugurating day of an occupation that would last for the next decade.
That occupation began with the barricading of Phnom Penh to facilitate the plundering of its wealth by convoys of trucks heading to Vietnam and the mass crimes of the K5 plan.
My hairdresser remembers returning from Battambang to his home in Boeung Keng Kang I on February 3, 1979, only to find that all the wealthy neighbourhoods of villas and jewellery stores were still barricaded off.
It was an occupation cut short only by the meltdown of the Cold War – specifically, the break-up of the Soviet Union, which funded the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia.
Continue reading “January 7 and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal”
Lessons for toppling dictators
Jan. 11, 2012
A. Gaffar Peang-Meth
PACIFIC DAILY NEWS
Popovic tells us we need analytical skills in “unity, planning, and nonviolent discipline” to succeed in a revolution. He tells us of the working of the dynamics of enthusiasm and humor vs. fear and apathy: As enthusiasm and humor go up, fear and apathy go down, and vice versa. And he tells us to select strategy and tactics: Start small and pick the battle one can win.
I ended 2011 with a column on Lord Buddha’s teachings from 2,500 years ago about man as an activist, an “actionist,” and a maker of the world. As 95 percent of Cambodia’s 14 million people identify themselves as Buddhist, I deduced that Cambodians are activists and “actionists” who can transform autocratic Cambodia into a Buddhist country of civil rights, justice, and compassion.
The people profess to want those changes. Yet change has not happened.
After my column, I received an email from a former Khmer monk, Bouawat Sithi, a graduate of Thailand’s Djittabhawan College, which was founded to provide opportunities to students from poor families to pursue higher education. He affirmed that my interpretation of Buddhism is what he learned as a monk and still practices daily — that Buddha never taught man to believe in fate, but “to believe in our own action (karma).” He lamented Buddhism is not taught or understood correctly and “egoism, anger, greed, delusion, desire, craving, hate and aversion” overwhelm many Cambodians.
Heng Sreang, Royal University of Phnom Penh professor, sent an article, “The Scope and Limitations of Political Participation by Buddhist Monks,” that contains his belief that Khmer Buddhist monks “should play not only a legitimizing but also a critical role” as a “constructive force for the improvement and reconstruction of the social well-being and political life of the country.”