Khmer Rouge: “Bad People”?

5 December 2011

Image by Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia via Flickr

You may remember reading last week that the number two leader of Cambodia’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime told a court in Phnom Penh he and his comrades were not “bad people.”

Nuon Chea, deputy of Pol Pot and one of three Maoist leaders accused of crimes against humanity at a UN-backed tribunal, denied any wrongdoing.

This must be news to the remaining relatives of the estimated 2 million Cambodians who died during the Khmer Rouge’s 1970s reign of terror.

The Khmer Rouge were efficient, cold-blooded murderers.

After they assumed full control in 1975, they ordered concrete poured into Phnom Penh’s sewers. They turned off the water and electricity and emptied the hospitals of patients.

They announced Year Zero and all history of what they called Democratic Kampuchea was to begin from that moment onwards.

“Dear Leader” Pol Pot’s agrarian revolution required the abandonment of the capital and movement of all city dwellers to the countryside.

Tens of thousands of men, women and children, everyone from the young to grandparents, were marched into the fields. Those who fell by the wayside were shot on the spot. No time for burials. Relatives just had to keep marching.

The Khmer Rouge asked anyone wearing glasses to step to one side. They were shot. In their perverted belief system, anyone with glasses was an intellectual, to be killed.

Soft hands? You were unaccustomed to the toil of the proletariat and shot.

Speak a foreign language? Possess a university degree? Pregnant or carrying a child? All executed by the roadside.

So, in a way, Nuon Chea is right. The Khmer Rouge weren’t “bad people”.

They were far worse. They robbed a country of an entire generation. They deserve to pay for their foul work.

The trial of Nuon Chea continues this week.

Adapted from The Toronto Sun. There, Simon Kent wrote a startling account of seeing Phnom Penh in the early 1990s. I highly recommend clicking here to read his observations.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, World

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