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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - An open letter to Ieng Sary

An open letter to Ieng Sary

Dear Uncle,

Cambodia is at a transitional point almost like a family at the early stages of building

a house.

Most Cambodian people would agree that in starting to build a house, the foundation

is the first step. The foundation represents the bottom of the house as much as a

trial does for the modern process of reconciliation.

I use this analogy because Cambodia's future can be very exciting and prosperous.

Cambodia has a certain openness that very few countries in Asia possess or allow.

This openness can be positively translated into Cambodia's eagerness and commitment

to learn and improve.

On the contrary, Cambodia's openness could also be cynically attributed not so much

to a practical and efficient learning attitude, but more a reflection of the country's

paralysis after the destruction of its communities and institutions.

Most people would like Cambodia's openness to be sincere - a serious and wise effort

at learning and growing in order to regain a stable and legitimate position in the

region and world.

What all Cambodians understand is that something terrible has happened over the past

30 years.

Some people from the international community as well as from Cambodia feel that Cambodians

are now presented the overwhelming responsibility of preventing such senseless death

and suffering in the future by accounting for what has happened in its past.

This duty can be one of a higher calling to national duty or a practical approach

to preventing another possible revolution for which I may become just another value-less

skeletal remain littering Cambodia's countryside.

Do we not now have an obligation to declare that this will never happen again? At

the same time, do we not have an obligation to take steps to ensure that this never

happens again?

The easiest thing to do is to just declare that this will never happen again without

lifting a hand to build the social, political and individual awareness and understanding

necessary to make it real.

Perhaps, an extra apology for the countless livestock and other animals that died

during the 1970s and 1980s could represent a starting point but by no means should

that be the end.

I fear that if Cambodia does not make a sincere attempt to reconcile its past, we

shall all be doomed to repeat it. But, you along with the rest of the country must

be asking yourself how do we start?

Uncle, a trial is an open forum where all accused are brought along with the evidence

collected to determine the truth.

Before the eyes of a legitimate legal system, everyone accused is innocent until

proven guilty by a court of law.

I agree with you that Cambodia has achieved a certain level of peace that has not

existed for a long time. However, I disagree with your observation that Cambodia

has achieved reconciliation.

I look into my own heart to find that not true, and I am writing to ask you to do

the same.

I write to plead and challenge you to support an open fair trial. I feel that you

will exercise your wisdom and recognize the need for personal sacrifice for the betterment

of the country in order to strengthen Cambodia's future. Your very life and career

was dedicated towards these perceived goals, and now you may have a real opportunity

to contribute to them.

Today as you and other Khmer Rouge leaders grow older and Cambodia tries to reconcile

its past trauma and pain, I, and other Cambodians, are calling on you to explain,

account and justify your own past actions.

The Khmer Rouge was supposedly born among the Cambodian peasants - a dream to make

Cambodia a more equitable and just society.

The party has always advocated for the poor and disadvantaged. The struggle for a

more equitable and fair Cambodia was pushed even at the high cost of great personal

sacrifice.

The Khmer Rouge leaders always spoke of the sacrifice of the individual for the betterment

of society. In some respects, moral leadership did hold value within the basic principles

of the Khmer Rouge's movement. Keeping these basic guiding principles in mind, the

top Khmer Rouge leaders should ask if Cambodia is not calling on them once again?

Holding true to the Khmer Rouge's principle of self-sacrifice, and to clearly demonstrate

a strong sense of national love and feeling of higher duty to country, it would only

seem natural that the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders would once again look into their

hearts and conscience and make this personal self-sacrifice to support an international

trial.

A Cambodian in Search for Reconciliation,

Chivariak Khus, Silaka, Phnom Penh

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