Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Comrade Duch on trial

Of course it's a good thing that the murderous villans of the Khmer Rouge are to face justice. Kaing Guek Eav, aka Comrade Duch, ran a top secret torture prison for the Khmer Rouge. He can be implicated in about 14,000 - that is FOURTEEN THOUSAND - deaths (1). Hardly anyone escaped Tuol Sleng prison. The innocent would be tortured into confession. The irredeemable innocent had to be irradicated to preserve the operation's secrecy.

Kaing Guek Eav has since converted to Christianity, and - unlike most 'deathchamber' conversions, his new faith seems real. He has co-operated fully with the investigation and has not tried to deny his guilt. He is relying, it seems, on the 'Nuremburg defence,' claiming that he was just following orders. That didn't work then, nor will it work now:
The tribunal, operated jointly by the UN and the Cambodian authorities, has said such claims will not constitute a defence. (2)
It is unlikely he will offer anything more to exculpate himself.

While the trial of Khmer Rouge murderers is welcome, we - the westernised, supposedly civilised world - have to face up to our own crimes in Cambodia.

The effect of Kissinger's carpet-bombing - a MINIMUM of 2,756,941 tonnes of high explosive was dropped on a country the USA was not at war with (3). Is that not a crime that demmands investigation and accoutability?

As Owen and Keirnan suggest, we haven't learned from the lesson of history here . Bombing Cambodia strengthened the Khmer Rouge, alienating the peasants and turning them against the pro-Western Lon Nol.

We are repeating this blundering, bloody 'strategy' in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, as then, there will be turmiol and murder for years as it runs its course. Now, as then, we'll be repsonsible for it. Now, as then, we'll deny it.

UPDATE - A paragraph of the above has been edited, as it was phrased in language that would - perhaps - have made Chris Trotter blush (4).
1 - "Old and frail, Comrade Duch faces his victims 34 years on," by Andrew Buncombe, published in The Independent, 17th of February, 2009. (
2 - ibid.

3 - "The Lesson from Cambodia that Policymakers Are Ignoring,"By Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan, published on George Mason University's History News Network, 14th of May, 2007. (
4 - Perhaps it is something to do with trying to put across horror, outrage or shock, but describing atrocity seems to bring out the worst in writers. The thing about Pompous Chris is, he would use up all the purple in his paint set just describing a stroll to the local dairy. For the historical record, the excised part of the original post read "While the trial of Khmer Rouge murderers is welcome, as Kaing Guek Eav and the other defendants awaiting trial, there is another dock waiting to be filled by another set of defendants. It is empty, and has been empty for as long as the one that waited for Kaing Guek Eav. And it will continue to remain empty. For who will call us to account?

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