“Chea, how come good doesn’t win over evil?” young Chanrithy Him asks her sister, after the brutal Khmer Rouge have seized power in Cambodia, but before hunger makes them too weak for philosophy. Chea answers only with a proverb: When good and evil are thrown together into the river of life, first the klok or squash (representing good) will sink, and the armbaeg or broken glass (representing evil) will float. But the broken glass, Chea assures her, never floats for long: “When good appears to lose, it is an opportunity for one to be patient, and become like God.”
from the book When Broken Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him
Cambodia. Pol Pot– Brother Number 1. The Khmer Rouge. Infamous for the “killing fields.” Brought to the notice of the West by the movie which shares the name. Cambodia is synonymous with these fields, with death, with genocide on a massive scale. The Khmer Rouge were the authors of this tragedy. Turning children into murderers. Turning the “base people” against the “new people.” Turning children against their parents. But Cambodia is more than this tragedy.
Cambodia is much more than that stretch of time dominated by the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. Cambodia is the beauty of the Apsara. The nobility of Jayavarman VII. The majesty and antiquity of Angkor. The power of the Mekong, Tonle and Bassac rivers. The smiles of it’s carefree peoples. Jungles and forests and elephants and monkeys. Even so, a visit to Cambodia can never be complete without the reminder of the desolation and carnage that communism wrought upon the soul of the peoples of Cambodia.
The evils of Tuol Sleng. The Killing Fields. Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot. Democratic Kampuchea. The dark history that is enshrined at Cheung Ekh along with it’s victims.
Cheung Ekh is a foreboding place. It is a stroll into madness and the heart of evil. I could feel the past there . The sadness that bled into the ground with the blood of it’s victims. The blood that swells just beneath the sod. The evil that consumed the people of Cambodia under the guiding hand of Pol Pot. It’s victims caught in an eternal and silent plea for justice. A justice that will never be realized. Those skulls stare at you. Forever questioning how such a peaceful people could be turned into the tool of genocide by a mad prophet of death and destruction.
Cambodia’s notorious Brother Number One. The leader of the evil red revolution and murderer of millions. He died before he could be brought to justice.
Walking through the killing fields of Cambodia is horrifying. Yet, it’s fascinating. As I strolled through Cheung Ehk, I read the signs posts and literature. Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt a hand wrap around my heart. My stomach knotted up. My pulse raced. Walking through those fields, one’s soul joins the millions of victims in silent protest. One can feel their screams, the pain, the anger, the outrage. Surely, justice must come. It will not.
There is no justice. It is estimated that anywhere from 1.2 to 2.2 Million Cambodians died at the hands of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. Cities, villages and families were decimated. So many lives ended. Stolen. Human history unwritten, obliterated.
The motto of the Khmer Rouge as regards the “New People”: “To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss.”
The base people were the people of the villages. The new people were city dwellers. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge evacuated all of the cities of Democratic Kampuchea. And as the Jungle reclaimed the land, the Khmer Rouge destroyed a people. Their first victims were the literate. The educated. Being in possession of glasses was enough to prove guilt. As with all of the “great proletariat” revolutions, the Khmer Rouge soon ran out of victims outside of the party and fell upon itself with equal zeal. Killing for the sake of killing. Murder became the great tool by which Pol Pot could purge the people of the evil of capitalism and turn back time. Erase history. Start from a new, pristine point without the corruptions of the West.
He would save the people by destroying them. A novel idea shared by many in the lands of Islam today. The leaders of Islam share this vision. They would set the world on fire to save us from what? Hell. Create a hell on earth to save us from hell in the afterlife. There is nothing new in this. It is the same act of the murderous tyrant and his minions throughout history.