{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

Thion - Genocide and Democracy Administrative Divisions of...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–16. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
Background image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 10
Background image of page 11

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 12
Background image of page 13

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 14
Background image of page 15

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 16
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: Genocide and Democracy Administrative Divisions of in Democratic Kampuchea, 1975-19797 Q I “H. ‘ Cambodia - " The Khmer Rouge, gum ‘ the United Nations ' ° and the International Community Edited with an introduction by Ben Kiernan (uh-n autumn-nu) Mum vm-ImI-I Bound-l1 Flannel-I cum-I Monograph Series 41/Yale University Southeast Asia Studies Yale Center for International and Area Studies Orville H. Schell. Jr. Center for International Human Rights Map draWn by Margaret Pitt. Yale University Law School Genocide as a Political Commodity Serge Thiom Just after the signing of the so—called Peace Agreements on Cambodia in Paris, on the avenue Kléber where the 1973 agreements on Vietnam were also signed, Roland Dumas, the French foreign minister, held a press conference along with Prince Sihanouk and Perez de Cuellar. A nasty journalist, quoting directly from the UN Convention to prevent genocide—a treaty to which France, like a majority of other states, is a party—reminded the audience that, in the absence of an established ad hoc international court, each state was duty-bound to act against the perpetrators of such a heinous crime. It was clear from the text that the French government was bound to place Khieu Samphan and Son Sen, the Khmer Rouge signatories, under arrest and to charge them with the crime of genocide under international law. The reply was what could be expected from a true statesman: Dumas shrugged and laughed. “Do not worry, ” he said to the pesky journalist. “We have very good lawyers.” (He is a famous lawyer himself.) “It does not matter what documents we give them, they’ll always come up with the solution [we want].” He was expressing the absolute cynicism of power. Treaties are worth no more than the paper they are written on when they contradict the policy of the day. Referring to the law is just idle talk. As Iwrite this, sitting in a garden facing the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, the second Supreme National Council meeting is taking place inside. Seated there is the same Khieu Samphan, representative of what is left of the Pol Pot regime, which was overthrown in early 1979 by Vietnamese troops. He rode into the palace protected by a strong military escort. There is not much love for him in town. In the plane bringing him from Bangkok, he complained to an American correspondent, Nate Thayer, that some governments in the West are attempting to derail the “peace process” by their reluctance to allow the Khmers Rouges to play their full role in it. There is a grain of truth in what he said. * In memoriam, Allard K. Lowenstein, of early Namibian commitment. [This chapter has been lightly edited—Ed] :ulcui Lommoaity As James A. Baker III was deliverin ' ' conference, he remarked casually that his goiefrlfismghetefgd 2:) Ell: Ptz'ms to a trial of those responsible for past horrors in Cambodideivl'ofi whom he was about to sign the agreements giving them a le al’shzlf of future power in Cambodia. It was the first time a hi h—raréigk' e offiCial had publicly considered such an idea.1 g mg Us MonSieur Dumas escaped this contradiction through laughter. of the case against them will have diminished accordingly. These considerations remain valid whichever words—with their varying legal implications—we use to describe the huge human losses that occurred in Cambodia under Communist party rule, with Pol Pot as the highest authority. I shall discuss the use of the word genocide later; but first let us look at the facts. But Mr. Baker does not even seem to know how to smile He wa t E) have it both ways: to sign an agreement that jacks up the Khmgr: thoeng:1)sni;to allegitimate position and also to distance himself from h d . ora and legal grounds;his right hand ignores what his left . an 18. domg. While Monsieur Dumas scoffed at the notio f International law binding sovereign states Mr Baker wa n O subtle. .He implied that, although denying it now his govefnrrIiliore could, in the future, give its approval to an application of the l er'lf others—Cambodians for instance—choose to take such action l:1W 1 P01 Pot’s point of view, this could be seen as obvious duplicity mm W In subsequent weeks, there was a lot of speculation in the estern press, feeding on comments it extracted from Cambodi leaders, on the circumstances that could lead to a trial of the Khm an Rouges for genocide. But nobody so far has considered takin act' ers and Prince Sihanouk, speaking in the Royal Palace on Noverfigib 122, Epsttlyprifnteddout that, before being brought to the dock Pol Poteffiust e oun . He suggested that one mi ht “ ’ ' ' general Suchinda Kaprayoon, chief of the Rfyal zilI‘sllfai ginsrjjffgltzlfd Ime recently he Just had a most agreeable conversation with Pol Pot " n addition, an obViously embarrassed Sihanouk said that he w ld not Visit the Tuol Sleng “Genocide Museum." 011 . Everyone knows that for the last twelve years Pol Pot has be quietly sitting in his compound near the Thai town of Trat en'o kin Chinese money, Royal Thai army protection, and incons i’cdioug support from what could be called the CIA border network Trfiere h: 18 able to direct the Khmer Rouge political and military campaign in Cambodia and hold long seminars to train his local commanders d apprise them of the new line.2Although he has dropped out of :1)? life on the advice of the Chinese, who found that his nampu 1C embarrassing in the West, he obviously does not feel at risk If 511:3: if later pndertaken to bring him to court, it will mean the Khmers ouges usefulness as a weapon against Communist Vietnam has uenocme anu ucrnuu- up; u. unllnvvn-v- dwindled into insignificance. By then, of course, the moral strength 5 l i Ben Kiernan has provided information on those limited surveys, conducted in the years immediately following the demise of Democratic Kampuchea (DK), which are available to us.3 They were carried out by individuals mostly doing research on the border. No institution attempted to do a global survey; only the CIA provided an estimate based on several explicit hypotheses, which raised a number of questions.4 It should be very clear that we do not know the real figures, and it is also probable we shall never have them, because the “killing fields" were operated with very few written documents. Of those which have been found, many are still inaccessible. Moreover, the killers are still at large in the jungle. Documents are lacking to establish precise figures for the population when the war started in 1970, when it stopped in 1975, when Pol Pot fled in 1979, and even now. They have not been destroyed: they never existed. Moreover, Khmers are not always registered and change their names at will. On the basis of these few surveys and my own interviews, I fully accept an estimate between 1 and 1.5 million deaths. We must keep in mind that these figures have been constructed by asking individuals to count the number of family members thought to be dead or missing. Some of the missing persons may, of course, be alive somewhere else. The Red Cross tracing system and Khmer newspapers and television still carry requests for information on missing or lost persons, obviously with some results. But the number of people thus accounted for is probably not very high. On the other hand, Khmers would include in their “family" count a sizable numberofnon—kin people—sworn friends, adopted children and neighbors—who, for all practical purposes, are family members. But these people would also be claimed by other families as their kin relatives, leading to double accounting. I consider that the proportion of double counts is probably high in the early border surveys and would fully account for the figure of three million produced by the PRK, if this is based on any serious work, which I doubt. ucuuuluc u.) u ruuucm commodity There were three main causes of violent deaths. 1) The killing of identified Lon Nol regime personnel heavy at the beginning, following the April 17 1975 collapse. There was obviously a central decision to elimi: nate these people as an extension of the death promised to the seven “supertraitors” leading the ousted regime. Possi- bly, between 100,000 and 200,000, including relatives were executed under this blanket order, which was not applied everywhere in the same way. The intention was probably to eliminate all those who had been invested with some form of power in the old society and might therefore be a seed for growrng another power hostile to the revolution. 2) The intra~party purges. The need for the Party Center to 3) establish itself as the sole source of authority led to the destruction of individuals, and group or zone commands including relatives, former subordinates, and associated nonparty populations, that were deemed by the Pol Pot group as having either intellectual origins or political affilia- tions that were not one hundred percent inspired by the Center. They called it the “purification" of the party, and each new wave of purges increased the “level of purity.” Several tens of thousands of people were thus disposed of a lot of them after “confessing” invented treason. The figure may be as high as 200,000 people if we include the destruction of nonparty civilians in the eastern zone in 1978. Assertive killings. Local cadres, mostly uneducated peas- ants or half-educated teachers, had risen to power because they had been good petty military leaders in the war. They compensated for their lack of legitimacy, their incompe— tence, and their lack of grasp of social mechanisms in an extremely authoritarian way, even to the extent of killing anyone not showing the mask of passive acceptance It is impossible to estimate the number of those killings not derived from central orders but from the psychological drives of youngsters who needed to assert undue authority- but, on any account, itwas massive. Attention should be paid to this phenomenon as its dynamic is still active in today's Genocide and Democracy m Lamnoulu nu society and is even more threatening with the planned demobilization of seventy percent of the troops. The weak— ness, or the outright lack of institutional links among indi- viduals may lead someone in authority, when facing any form of challenge, to resort to immediate and violent retali— ation. This is probably a result of the traditional basic educa— tion, handed down from the ancient times when a majority of the people were slaves of the rulers, which insists that authority should never and cannot, for any reason whatso— ever, be challenged.5 One way or another, these three categories of mass killings had the same purpose: to establish an entirely new type of power, based on an entirely new type of people drawn from social strata in which no one had ever dreamed of climbing to the top. Itwas, in a nutshell, a revolution, although it was produced by not much more than the power of the gun. We know of violent political changes that are not revolutions, and of revolutions that are not bloody. I shall leave that to the philosophers but it could be useful to remember that the old regime, until 1970, treated its opponents in a very rough way, including the use of systematic violence, which it claimed to be a legitimate response to opponents of bad faith. Sihanouk’s regime pushed the future revolutiOnaries into the forested wilderness, whence they emerged in 1975 to pluck power like a ripe fruit. This may lead to a more thorough examination of the problems presented to us for comment. What were the social, political and economic preconditions for genocide in Cambodia? The most obvious answer is the war, which produced a political vacuum in Phnom Penh in 1975. In the wake of the March 18, 1970, coup, the war apparently started as a continuation of the American war against the Vietnamese Communists. But it immediately cracked Khmer society wide open, with, very broadly speaking, on one hand, the urban bourgeoisie thirsty for dollars and Western consumer goods, and on the other, the more traditionalist peasantry almost untouched by the modern economy. The republican regime quickly dissipated any hope of reform and immediately lost the war. Then the iuu uenocme as a Political Commodity war went on as a massive destruction of the countryside by airpower. The most important political change to come about was the provision inserted by the United States into the Paris Agreements of 1973 obliging the VC/NVA to evacuate Cambodia, in a naive attempt to revive the Lon Nol regime. As a result, the Vietnamese handed over the administration of the countryside to P01 Pot,who immediately began to eliminate, one by one, his allies in the “Front" and the “impure” elements—that is, those who had not been directly forged by him—inside the Communist party. Under the heaviest bombings ever launched up to that time on a country, radicalization was accelerated and in some areas an authoritarian policy was implemented that was to become standard after April 1975. Without the war, which, in a bitter paradox, was needed by the Americans in preparing their orderly withdrawal from Vietnam, Pol Pot’s tiny Communist party would certainly have met the same fate as its equivalents in Malaysia, Thailand, and Burma, as a marginal insurrection partly fed by China and doomed to slow extinction. The conditions of this war permitted the progressive elimination of all moderates or less—than—extremists, with the exception of the person of Sihanouk, carefully preserved in Peking as a symbol. A small secretive clique arose, entirely devoid of experience in organizing economics or maneuvering social forces. Their narrow nationalism led them to believe that Cambodia on its own was now able to solve problems that were lying unresolved elsewhere. If efforts failed, if the Cambodian revolution quickly turned into a bloody mess, it was mainly for intellectual and cultural reasons. These “thinkers” never suspected the complexity and contradictory nature of social evolution. They did not master the meaning of the ideas they were using and, unable to convince, they either hid theirviews or resorted to terrorism and passive acceptance.6 Stalin, at least, was a realist. Pol Pot, a much- watered—down imitation of a faded Chinese copy of Uncle Joe, was and still is, an unimaginative idealist, a forest monk, lost in dreams. The tragedy came when an imported war offered him hosts of uneducated wild youngsters toting guns to translate his dreams into a deadly reality. As this war drags into its twenty—second year, the man is still there, still preaching the same bad news. Genocide and Democracy in Camnoam 10:1 What were the aims and methods of the Khmer Rouge movement? The Khmer Rouge aim was to establish, for the first time since the mythological period of Angkor, an independent state, without any foreign interference or influence (that of the Chinese went unacknowledged), more or less autarchic. Destroying the towns, the bourgeois class, and even religion (also seen as foreign) was deemed necessary in order to retrieve the “Original Khmer," which happens to be the name Pol Pot used in his first known article, written in Paris in 1952.7 These ideas of a pre—Hindu, pre—urban, pre—state, “original” Khmer society, ideally organized in a kind of basic village democracy, that was later adulterated by all successive forms of state power establishing oppressive authority on the basis of doctrinal ideas borrowed from outside (India, China, Europe), had been elaborated by a brilliant young Khmer intellectual, Keng Vannsak, probably the most influential figure in the Khmer intelligentsia in the middle of this century. Although not a Marxist himself, he blended a Marxist view of history with a Rousseauist concept of a primitive form of democracy based on a “contract,” adapted to the tentative reconstruction of Khmer history by French orientalist historians. Although far from being supported by hard facts, this interpretation had the advantage of placing the blame for all evils on the kingship and of channeling energies to fight the puppet king and the French colonial authorities who were using him in such a blatant way. This struck at the very heart of a controversy raging among colonial historians at the beginning of this century concerning the nature of those Southeast Asian societies which during the last two thousand years had developed statecraft along the lines of successive Indian patterns, sometimes called “Hindu—ized kingdoms.” George Coedes, who coined this expression, used to write: “The Cambodian is a hinduized Phnong,”a referring to the Khmerword for the “savages” living a tribal life in the mountains, outside the royal realm, and speaking dialects different from but related to the Khmer lowland language. Military expeditions sometimes brought Phnongs back as slaves, who then became Khmer through integration into a state and culture imported from India. This is the process alluded to by Coedes in a sentence that raised the question about the real depth of this acculturation and about what remained of the non—Indian origins in the true culture of Cambodia. 1 m Genocide as a Political Commodity In Paris, Saloth Sar (the future Pol Pot) and Keng Vannsak became close friends, and though Vannsak did not join the French Communist party, they worked together, agitating against Sihanouk and his rotten alliance with the French. That was student politics at the time, but when he came back to Phnom Penh and chose to fight in the ranks of the Democrat party, trying to renovate its leadership and radicalize its opposition to Sihanouk who was tied by his subservience to the colonial masters, Vannsak enlisted the aid of Pol Pot, by then a full- time member of the Communist party's Phnom Penh leadership, to reorganize the party and prepare for the elections. Sihanouk, using the most undemocratic means, forced an electoral rout on both the Democrat party and the Pracheachon (legal arm of the Communists), and Pol Pot, promoted to secretary-general after the killing of the previous one, Tou Samouth, by the secret police, decided to go hide in the forest. When he left Phnom Penh in 1 963, the man who took him on the ship upstream to Krauchmar, where he was to fade from public life, was none other than Keng Vannsak. After some time spent in Base 100, a Vietcong logistical area in the northeastern province of Rattanakiri, Pol Pot moved to live among the Phnongs (the “savages"), away from the Vietnamese. There he discovered the tribal life of these “original” Khmers and learned to deeply appreciate these people, later holding them up as examples of “purity, " meaning that they had not been spoiled by royalty, Buddhism, money, or any other imported foreign ideas and instruments of domination. He used them as bodyguards and encouraged cadres to marry tribal women. He transferred the “primitive democracy” that Vannsak had put in a time framework (the “‘origin”) into a space category according to which purity, now on the periphery, would come to encircle the soiled heartland of the country and, in a graphic Maoist way, conquer it. This highly debatable View of the Khmer past thus left a recognizable imprint on Pol Pot’s mind and limited historical knowledge; and this utopian Vision of a “democratic village state” buried in the past led to the curious and unorthodox appellation of the new state—literally, “Kampuchea Democracy,” more usually translated as “Democratic Kampuchea” (DK).9 The methods used to achieve this desperate nationalistic vision of a country returning to its buried roots were classically Asian Communist, learned from the Vietnamese and Chinese professional organizers, but learned as Cambodians do learn—by rote, being more accustomed to reproducing the form than to capturing the spirit. E l l i l Genocide and Democracy in Lamnoam i I 1 These methods included the indoctrination of the young (considered as naturally “pure") with a cryp...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}