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No conspiracy

Dear Editor,

Michael Vickery sees conspiracies where there are none ("Troubling Conjunctions"

PPPost, Jan 5-18, 2001). His attack on Human Rights Watch and the International Republican

Institute (IRI) is clearly an attempt to discredit the bearers of negative news on

Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen, and the Cambodian People's Party. This really comes

as no surprise. In works published in the 1980s, he accused the "wrong people"

for revealing critical information on Democratic Kampuchea for the "wrong reasons."

Vickery may be a Cambodian historian, but he is not a political scientist or sociologist.

It would be a mistake to consider his opinions on current day Cambodian politics

and society as gospel; rather, they reflect his own biased political views, which

are unquestionably sympathetic toward the CPP. While Vickery's letter is steeped

in academic arrogance, the political logic he employs undermines his own support

of the status quo in Cambodia. He seems to be suggesting that political organizations

are static and incapable of change. If that is the case, Cambodia has much to fear

from Prime Minister Hun Sen and the CPP.

I personally witnessed the havoc and destruction caused by CPP violence during the

1993 election, as well as various attacks against political parties over the past

seven years, and Hun Sen's 1997 coup d'etat. Dead men cannot speak, but I know the

families of the victims of CPP violence take exception to Vickery's comments. We

unfortunately belong to the same club. As one almost killed in the March 1997 grenade

attack, I find his comments to be on the fringe and inconsistent with current realities

in Cambodia, to say the least.

It would be wise for Vickery to remain in his ivory tower and to allow Cambodian

leaders and the Cambodian people to speak for themselves when it concerns the work

of democracy and human rights groups.

- Ron Abney., Cochran, Georgia, USA



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