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  •  READER COMMENTS

    Reader comments on S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine

    Subject: Who is really responsible?
    Date: Mar 1, 2004
    Sender: Carlo DorigattiPrevious | Next

    It seems almost disrespectful to take issue at this point; but one must. For too long Pol Pot and his gang have been an iconic horror show in the west, stripped of the reasons why. And this extraordinary film, it has to be said, adds little to the why.

    When Pol Pot died in his bed a few years ago, no one asked about the role of "civilised" governments in bringing him to power, sustaining his movement and rejuvenating it.

    The genocide in Cambodia did not begin on April 17 1975, "Year Zero". It began more than five years earlier when American bombers killed an estimated 600,000 Cambodians. Phosphorous and cluster bombs, napalm and dump bombs that left vast craters were dropped on a neutral country of peasant people and straw huts. In one six-month period in 1973, more tons of American bombs were dropped on Cambodia than were dropped on Japan during the second world war: the equivalent of five Hiroshimas. The regime of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger did this, secretly and illegally.

    Unclassified CIA files leave little doubt that the bombing was the catalyst for Pol Pot's fanatics, who, before the inferno, had only minority support. Now, a stricken people rallied to them. In Panh's film, a torturer refers to the bombing as his reason for joining "the maquis": the Khmer Rouge. What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot completed. And having been driven out by the Vietnamese, who came from the wrong side of the cold war, the Khmer Rouge were restored in Thailand by the Reagan administration, assisted by the Thatcher government, who invented a "coalition" to provide the cover for America's continuing war against Vietnam.

    Thank you, Rithy Panh, for your brave film; what is needed now is a work as honest, which confronts "us" and relieves our amnesia about the part played by our respectable leaders in Cambodia's epic tragedy.

    Previous: I missed the film release... | Next: Re: Who is really responsible?

    Respond to this message | Return to original article: S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine




    Comment index:

  • hello !   from narinh chhom, Feb 7, 2004
  • I missed the film release...   from diego, Mar 3, 2004
  • » Who is really responsible? «   from Carlo Dorigatti, Mar 1, 2004
  • Re: Who is really responsible?   from Phil Green, Sep 3, 2004
  • Re: Who is really responsible?   from Conrad, Jun 3, 2008
  • [no subject]   from jevano, Mar 10, 2004
  • More questions   from michael, May 21, 2004
  • Question   from Sothear Soksovann, Sep 13, 2004
  • hello !   from narinh chhom, Feb 7, 2004
  • I missed the film release...   from diego, Mar 3, 2004
  • » Who is really responsible? «   from Carlo Dorigatti, Mar 1, 2004
  • Re: Who is really responsible?   from Phil Green, Sep 3, 2004
  • Re: Who is really responsible?   from Conrad, Jun 3, 2008
  • [no subject]   from jevano, Mar 10, 2004
  • More questions   from michael, May 21, 2004
  • Question   from Sothear Soksovann, Sep 13, 2004