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Letter: Barbarians at the gate

Dear Editor,

"Barbarian" was a word that Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mang and the French

naturalist who visited Angkor Wat in the 1850s, Henri Mouhot, used to refer to Cambodians

in the 19th century.

After reading your horrendous article "Impunity in Cambodia" I felt that

the word is still applicable to Cambodia today. It seems nothing has changed more

than one century later.

By reading this article, I think one would not be able to refrain from calling those

actions and the subsequent response of the authorities as barbaric.

It might be an overstatement or unfair to use the word collectively, but what word

shall I use to describe the heartless slaughtering of nine men for suspected cow


Where are the words to describe the cold-blooded killing of a 16-year-old boy for

his attempt to steal a provincial governor's chickens?

How can I describe the murdering of five people for "making too much noise"?

It is not the norm of a civilized society to have thugs roaming around killing people

and walking away free; it is not normal to have government condone such barbarism.

These things can happen only in an uncivilized society where the rule of law is nonexistent.

I am very much dismayed, realizing that Cambodia is still entrenching herself in

barbarism; that she is still unable to establish herself to as a civilized society

where the rule of law exists, and where justice can be enjoyed by all, a society

where due process of law is provided to all citizens equally.

For so long Cambodians, especially the weak, the poor, and the destitute, who make

up the majority of this unfortunate country, have been deprived of justice. Justice

seems to elude them whether their master is white or yellow, royalty or lay.

It makes no difference regardless of how many constitutions or laws are written,

they are still victimized by the rich, the powerful, and the government.

Your article is an obvious reflection of the enormous power of the rich, the powerful,

and the well-connected who can get away with anything, even multiple murders. And

it is an illustration of a so-called democratic government making fool of itself,

and the law running amok.

Where can the poor turn to for justice? Who can they talk to free of fear and without

being told "An egg cannot break a stone"?

The article illustrates clearly the contrast between the rhetoric - of rulers, politicians

and authorities - and the reality.

It reveals a nation lawless and polarized, in which barbarism flourishes unabated,

lawlessness is the rule, thugs roam free, and impunity is part of governing policy.

In the name of the weak, the poor, and the destitute of Cambodia, I say to the powerful,

provide some justice to your fellow countrymen. They are starving for it.

The tumultuous 20th century is drawing to an end, please try to leave the stigma

of barbarism behind and go into the 21st century as a civilized nation, governed

and living by the rule of law, with impunity and lawlessness buried and accountability

and responsibility the governing tools.

Mony Keo, Seattle, Washington US.



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