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