The recent publication of Khieu Samphan's book titled The recent history of Cambodia
and my successive positions, has drawn my interest.
The book is a kind of a narrative story that Samphan has invented to complicate the
true history of Cambodia during his power from 1975 to 1979.
I believe that no sensible person and no Cambodian people who suffered during his
regime are persuaded by his senseless writing. I just had a glance at the chapters
and do not want to read the book. But it appears that Samphan is trying to clean
the record and distance himself away from the responsibilities of his barbarous regime
and the death of nearly two million Cambodian people.
I remember well that in the eighties, when the Khmer Rouge organization was still
strong, Cambodians were living in fear and were easily cheated by KR psychological
And now a similar strategy returns in printed form. As the book is now arriving on
street stands I am most concerned that the unscrupulous invented content will to
some degree brainwash the Cambodian younger generation to believe that Khieu Samphan
was a good leader at that time. The youth may perceive that violence is a daily life
they should adopt because truth can be concealed like Khieu Samphan did in his book.
Former Khmer Rouge soldiers living in the country and people in the former occupied
zones may tend to believe that their leaders had done right, and if these leaders
are convicted their notion can not be tranquillized. The rise of strong protest and
struggle may happen if the situation is not under good control.
Samphan has not yet become senile in his old age. A shameless scholar like him could
set up a good story in his imagination in his defense.
I urge that this kind of publication be ceased. What would happen if Nuon Chea also
wrote a fiction like his comrade by denying those killing responsibilities? What
if Pol Pot were not dead and wanted to write a similar book and what if other responsible
persons want to follow suit in their individual defense?
Let us conserve the facts of Cambodian history. Let historians or criminal experts
conduct research and reveal the truth of Khmer Rouge genocide so that we can judge
based on comprehensive records.
In Western countries, books can be published only after the scrutiny and permission
from an institutional committee. Slobodan Milosevic, former president of the former
Yugoslavia, now on trial under detention at The Hague, does not have a chance to
write such book in his defense.
In this regard, the Cambodian Government may have to take more cautious measures
to verify any publications before permitting those printing books to go public.
Let the courts of law do their job in finding the truth for the much suffered Cambodian
people. I, by no means, intend to rake up the past and come up with revenge but as
one of the KR survivors, I wish to know what happened and who made it happen.
A properly conducted public inquiry by the proposed KR Tribunal will help Cambodians
to live with peaceful minds.
Sophea Yaung Chan and Tan Monivann, LLM - Phnom Penh
Editor's note: The statement "In Western countries, books can be published only
after the scrutiny and permission from an institutional committee" is inaccurate.
Western democracies have freedom of speech and publication, subject to laws governing
libel and defamation.