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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - How to put an end to the KR?? war games

How to put an end to the KR?? war games

Academic Henri Locard offers a four-point plan to solve the guerilla

problem .

"C'est follement amusant de jouer au vrai


Norodom Sihanouk, Chroniques de guerre ... et d'espoir,


N ews from the Cambodian countryside is not too good. The Khmer

Rouge leadership has decided to send its ingratiating messengers back to the

villages to try and engineer a replay of the fatal 1970-75 years. Too many

candid politicians, with the unwitting aid of irresponsible journalists, seem to

want to do all they can to help revolutionaries succeed in their sinister plans.

No fear, history does not repeat itself. The KR movement is weak and has no

future. However, to save the lives of yet more innocent Cambodians, leaders of

this country must do all they can to help this terrorist group die its natural

death, as peacefully as possible. How ?

First by exposing four untruths or illusions about the


1) They can still enlist a certain amount of support among

poorer sections of Khmer society. Poverty and corruption are said to be still

the root cause of the so-called popularity of Polpotism today, among a forgetful

section of the population in outlying areas. Rural development would be the key

to the eradication of the appeal of revolutionaries-turned-social-workers. This

is naive sophistry. First because there can be no real development at the

grassroots until peace and security prevail in this country. Secondly, the Khmer

Rouge, during their reign of terror, brought nothing but poverty, famine and

death. Why should the same people, with the same inane ideology and policies

behave differently in the future? Thirdly, if the eradication of poverty is the

precondition for the Polpotist movement to die, it could take some time before

we see the end of it. Finally, all KR leaders are the most corrupt, since they

are drunk with power, absolute power - the power of life and death over every

one of their fellow citizens!

2) The KR movement is not one more

"faction" whose opinion should be listened to and absorbed into a wide national

reconciliation and peace process. It is merely a terrorist group, which must be

held responsible, despite its own vigorous denials, for the violent deaths of

some two million of their compatriots, including almost half the population of

Phnom Penh, between the fatal April 17, 1975 and Jan 7, 1979. It is still led

today by the same white-collared international terrorists. For instance, no-one

will forget Khieu Samphan's petulant reply to a journalist who asked him, at the

Non-Aligned Conference at Colombo in September 1976, what had happened to the

missing one million Cambodians. Samphan said: "It's incredible how concerned

you Westerners are about war criminals". For once Khieu Samphan was sincere!

Since 1986 and the protracted peace negotiations, the KR have never been able to

transform themselves into a "faction", let alone a modern political party. It

came to power as a terrorist group, ruled the country as a terrorist group, and

is desperate to regain power as a terrorist group - even if this means mentally

torturing a sick monarch. Democratic Kampuchea did not dare to put up candidates

for last year's Untac supervised elections because it would have obtained such a

ridiculously low number of votes - outside the areas it controls - that it would

not have had a single member elected to the National Assembly.

The KR leadership is but a group of pseudo-intellectuals which can only

impress ignoramuses. Most members of Angkar's Politburo have no university

degrees - Ieng Sary or Son Sen being among the most notorious. They were failed

students. Painstaking Khieu Samphan wrote a postgraduate dissertation in which

he merely repeated the economic theories then prevailing in academic circles in

France in 1959, at the height of the Cold War. He advocated economic measures

which were poles apart from those implemented from the middle 1960s by Lee Kuan

Yew in Singapore - basically integration into the world market economy. Those

with sounder academic credentials were purged - one thinks of Hu Nim and Hu Youn

in particular.

As to Mr Saloth Sar [Pol Pot], his school and

"university" career is pathetic. In spite of all the efforts and the money

forked out by his wealthy relatives, the hard-working, docile model pupil could

successfully pass neither his primary school certificate (le Certificat

d'Etudes), nor the Diplôme (at the end of the lower secondary school), nor

the Baccalauréat, nor any technical degree in Paris. The only certificate he has

ever been able to produce is a membership card of the Parti Communiste Français!

The entire "intellectual" training he and many of his power-hungry fellow

"students" could absorb was the elementary programme in basic

Marxist-Leninist-Stalinism concocted by the Party school's special branch,

purpose-built for absentee Indochinese students.

Having gone through

thousands of pages written by these "intellectuals", read their speeches,

collected their slogans, listened to their revolutionary songs, I can claim I am

definitely not impressed by their wits!

4) The KR movement is not

a genuine and patriotic Cambodian movement. When US Ambassador Charles H.

Twining, then Foreign Service Officer based in Bangkok to observe the Cambodian

scene, testified on July 26, 1977 before a Congressional Subcommittee in

Washington, he summarized the numerous testimonies on the KR from Khmer refugees

most succinctly: "These people are not Cambodian." Nothing could

have been more perceptive. The leadership was by then almost entirely made up of

failed students, all trained abroad, their set of creeds was a crude

fundamentalist Maoism, the instruments for implementing their demented policies

were children mostly torn away from their families at an early age. Many came

from non-Indianized ethnic minorities and illiterate peasants from the

periphery, barely influenced by Buddhism. King Norodom Sihanouk himself, in his
Chroniques de guerre ... et d'espoir, explained it in so many words:
"on ne recrute que des payans pauvres, des montagnards, des habitants des

régions forestières et des villages les plus excentriques, les plus délaissés

par l'ancien régime. [...] Les recrues commencent leur carrière à l'âge de douze


Polpotism is an aberration in Khmer history, and is totally

alien to mainstream Cambodian culture. It was born on the Vietnamese border,

received its lifeblood from Peking, when it ruled the country, and is dying

today on the Thai border. Had it not been for an extraordinary combination of

geopolitical factors in the 1970s and the interventions - military and

intellectual - of almost the entire world community, it should never have come

to power. It never defeated America: Americans abandoned the country. The only

Americans the Polpotists defeated were a few journalists found in the capital on

April 17, 1975, who had mostly reported favourably on the "heroic struggle of

the Cambodian people"!

The world community should now stop playing

politics with the Cambodian people's lives. Four courses of action urgently need

to be taken:

1) The policies of the present day KR leadership

can be assimilated to paranoid behaviour. Therefore they must be treated as

such. Practically, Khmer Rouge-held territory should merely be cordoned off,

just as madmen are shut off in lunatic asylums. They must on no account be

attacked, and their present attempt to seep back into the villages must be

monitored. Angkar only knows terror and violence - they can never be defeated at

their own game. They must not be allowed to set the rules but fought with

peaceful means, as far as those can realistically be applied. Peace is their

direst enemy, war their dearest friend. Like all paranoiacs, the leadership has

delusions of grandeur and persecution, and has always seen enemies and plots

everywhere: those delusions must not be nourished.

2) The Monarch

can beseech his "children" and "grandchildren" on both his bended knees to

return home and be forgiven - his appeals fall on deaf ears; monks and nuns,

along with representatives of the international humanitarian lobby, can organize

a peace march through KR held territory - they get shot at. The KR recognize

neither king, nor religion, but Angkar - the Party.

The present

propaganda campaign towards the rank-and-file must be stepped up, including the

use of the minority languages - Kuay, Tampuan, Jaraï, Krueng-Brou, Phnong-Biat

and Stieng. The Royal Government must relentlessly talk calmly on the radio,

write leaflets, organize study groups (once again !) at the grassroots, to

persuade every KR soldier - and everyone in the KR target areas - that the big

war game is over. Those who "entered the forest" are expected back in their

villages. They must come out into the open to be undeceived and deprogrammed. No

effort must be spared to combat fear and hatred, and drain the leadership dry of

any support.

Journalists must also contribute to winning the propaganda

war and stop giving an echo to press releases from Democratic Kampuchea ...
"sources close to the Khmer Rouge confirm"... or phrases to that effect.

Is it not sickening to read such words in reputable journals?

The KR's

present crimes should be reported as succinctly as possible. An atmosphere of

calm and normality must be developed in the country. Sowing the seeds of panic,

with inflated war-mongering rhetoric, is not doing this country any service.

3) Never should the mouthpieces of Pol Pot - Khieu Samphan and

Son Sen in particular - be treated like statesmen. With the upcoming issuance of

Kingdom of Cambodia passports, the KR will have to acquire these new documents,

otherwise they will be barred from international travel. Their representation in

Phnom Penh should be closed down and their movement declared illegal by the

National Assembly.

Perhaps the People's Republic of China could be

generous and hospitable enough to find comfortable mental homes for the entire

leadership where they could spend cozy final years - Pol Pot is now over 70,

according to my reckoning. There, they could write their own mémoirs - long,

long provaterups (life-stories) for future historians to feast on. Pol Pot would

be closer to Khieu Ponnary, his dear first wife, finishing her life in a lunatic

asylum there, I believe. What a sweet reunion!

4) International

pressure on Thailand must be stepped up. The government is no doubt sincere when

it says it wishes to see its turbulent eastern neighbor at peace. Yet it is also

obviously disingenuous when it claims that it cannot control a 800 km border.

Thailand is now a developed country, it has a sophisticated bureaucracy, a

modern army and police and can utilze all means of communication. It certainly

cannot spot every smuggler with pockets bulging with rubies and sapphires, but

it can monitor the log trade and check the numerous business and personal links

between Angkar and a number of Thai nationals.

War-torn Europe has

created the European Union; borders have very little meaning for its citizens,

now. To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War,

President Mitterand has just invited a contingent of German soldiers to march

side by side with the French army, along the Champs Elysées on July 14. When

will the four Indochinese countries - Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam -

forever bury the hatchet of the Cold War, and cooperate harmoniously -

commercially, culturally and simply as fellow Southeast Asians who have such a

rich common history and are so blessed by nature ?

- Henry Locard,

author of Prisonnier de l'Angkar, is a visiting lecturer in the History

Department at the University of Phnom Penh. He is currently researching the

revolutionary culture of the Khmer Rouge.



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