Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US attitude surreal

US attitude surreal

US attitude surreal

Dear Editor,

In "All smiles for American delegations" [PPPost, Jan.19 - Feb. 1, 2001]

you note that United States Congressman Dick Gephardt expressed satisfaction with

the Cambodian government's moves to form a Khmer Rouge tribunal and offered the possibility

of increased United States assistance to Cambodia.

Surreal is an overused word, but in this American's view, it certainly fits this

scenario. A representative of the United States Government, a government that killed

hundreds of thousands of civilians in South-east Asia men, women, and children working

in their fields, celebrating in wedding parties, sleeping in their beds; a government

that would never dream of permitting one of its own aging political or military leaders

to be tried for those crimes (or the crime of having wasted thousands of their countrymen's

lives through deceit and political cowardice), a government whose president pardoned

a convicted war criminal on grounds of national reconciliation; this government's

representative praising Cambodia for bringing its mass murderers to justice and offering

money as an incentive is not just surreal - it is obscene.

Rather than praising Cambodia, American political leaders and government representatives

should be approaching a Khmer Rouge tribunal with some sense of humility. But then

the United States government's purpose in pushing for this trial has little to do

with justice. Rather, it is an attempt to justify after the fact the unconscionable

slaughter that government inflicted on the defenseless civilian populations of Cambodia,

Vietnam and Laos.

There are many in the United States who are fond of arguing that there is no need

for an international criminal court because nations should be encouraged to prosecute

their own war criminals. The trouble is, one country's war criminal is another country's

elder statesman.

- Raymund Johansen, Phnom Penh

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen to ‘step down’ if he loses Sam Rainsy bet over Kem Sokha

    Hun Sen has promised to step down as prime minister while opposition figure Sam Rainsy pledges to turn himself in as forfeits if the long-term political rivals lose a “bet” over the future of former opposition leader Kem Sokha, who is on bail awaiting trial

  • UAE prince seeks to invest in Cambodia

    The UAE has expressed interest in Cambodian oil and gas exploration. Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said this was the result of his discussions with Sheikh Ahmed bin Dalmook bin Juma al-Maktoum, a member of the royal family who visited him on Wednesday.

  • Kem Sokha off the menu as Smith talks judicial independence

    The UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, on Tuesday, focused on “judicial independence” at a meeting with Ministry of Justice officials. Both Smith and ministry spokesman Chin Malin said the former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (

  • Smith calls for ‘release’ of Sokha as visit ends

    At a press conference to conclude her 11-day visit to Cambodia, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith on Thursday called for treason charges against former opposition leader Kem Sokha to be dropped and for him to be released from “restricted detention”.