UMNO Uses Whistleblower’s Arrest to Defend 1MDB


June 28, 2015

UMNO Uses Whistleblower’s Arrest to Defend 1MDB

by John Berthelsen

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/umno-use-whistleblower-arrest-defend-1mdb/

Xavier Justo

Malaysia’s political establishment is using the arrest of Xavier Justo in Thailand to try derail questions over the ill-starred 1Malaysia Development Bhd Fund that go far beyond whether the whistle-blowing Swiss national did or did not steal and doctor documents and pass them to Sarawak Report, a critical blog run by a British reporter.

The United Malays National Organization has mounted a full-court attack on Sarawak Report and the Malaysian financial publication The Edge, threatening to crack down on The Edge’s printing license and driving a campaign through allied bloggers, the UMNO-owned New Straits Times and other media.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak himself threatened action against Sarawak Report, which responded angrily that there was no wrongdoing. At the same time, there appears to be a move to tie Mahathir Mohamad, the nonagenarian former premier and 1MDB’s fiercest critic, to allegations that the case against 1MDB has been doctored. 

For months, 1MDB has been under significant pressure both from the political opposition and some members of Najib’s own UMNO to come up with answers over what has become of RMB42 billion [US$11.3 billion] in liabilities the state-funded investment company has accrued since it came into being six years ago. Some sources in Kuala Lumpur say as much as RMB25 billion may be unrecoverable. Najib and company officials have been scrambling to find funds to meet regular interest payments, some of which have been deferred, apparently for lack of funds to meet them.

Thais Nab Justo in Koh Samui

Justo was arrested by Thai police in the presence of reporters and photographers from the UMNO-owned New Straits Times to record the event and print a front-page story accusing the “heavily tattooed Justo” of a long series of sins including theft and attempting to blackmail officials of PetroSaudi International, a controversial oil exploration firm closely connected to 1Malaysia Development Bhd, whose problems are said to threaten Malaysia’s entire financial structure. 

“This shocking story had the country talking,” according to the New Straits Times. “Who is Xavier Andre Justo? How could such a sorry figure have ignited a major Malaysian political storm? What motivated this man, so disconnected from the nation of Malaysia, to launch such a callous attack on our people without a thought for the consequences? The answer appears to be cold, hard cash. Greed can be a route to riches, but it can also be a dangerous road to ruin, as Xavier Justo is learning the hard way. Now, he finds himself in a Thai jail awaiting prosecution on charges of attempting to blackmail and extort money from his former employers; with further charges to follow in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.”

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi threatened to take action against Sarawak Report and The Edge, a leading financial and investment news publication, both of which for months have been breaking embarrassing stories on the parlous state of 1MDB’s finances and on the connections between flamboyant young financier Low Taek Jho and Najib. Jho Low, as he is known, and Najib were instrumental in establishing 1MDB in 2009. Najib remains as the fund’s chief financial advisor.

 Home Minister’s Threat

Zahid charged that The Edge and Sarawak Report had been “spinning the facts” over the state of 1MDB’s finances. The government is armed with colonial-era legislation under the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act to attempt to deny licenses to what it deems to be offending publications.  With Sarawak Report headquartered in the UK, however, Zahid’s threat remains an empty one.

Justo, who left PetroSaudi several years ago, somehow got back into the company’s computers to download 3 million emails that allege damaging information on the transactions with 1MDB and a company closely connected to Jho Low, as he is known.

There have been attempts to tie Justo’s revelations to Mahathir.  In a report by Malaysia Today, a blog also operated from the UK, Raja Petra Kamarudin said he had been told Sufi Yusof, Mahathir’s secretary, had made “a number of trips to Thailand over the past year to meet [Justo] and the Thai authorities are trying to establish this through immigration records.”

If the Thai authorities manage to establish that some of the documents and e-mails were, in fact doctored, Raja Petra wrote, “and that Sufi did make a few trips to Thailand to meet [Justo] and was aware of, or was a party to, this fraud, it is not going to look good for Dr Mahathir.

A Furious Brown  Answers

Clare Rewcastle Brown, the UK-based blogger who publishes the Sarawak Report, fired back with a furious 1,600 word riposte in which she threatened to sue for libel and defended on a case by case basis the documents that PetroSaudi officials alleged were doctored.

“Sarawak Report will be demanding satisfaction over these false allegations of ‘tampering,’” she wrote. “We suggest these misrepresentations are added to the list of potentially criminal activities by PetroSaudi, whose false charges on this point currently number amongst the allegations that have landed [Justo] in a jail in Bangkok.”

The blog, Brown said, “has closely researched the extremely serious and libelous allegations, which claim documents relating to our coverage of the PetroSaudi 1MDB joint venture were ‘tampered’ and ‘distorted’ in order to ‘creatively alter’ the truth. We can now prove that these allegations are demonstrably untrue, by examining the evidence on which they were based.

So, she wrote, “our message to those who have accused us is check your facts before you sound off your accusations and start to worry about libel suits, if you have defamed us or an innocent man who is now in jail. We can confirm that there is zero evidence brought forward so far to substantiate the claims of ‘distortion’ made over the past 48 hours by the New Straits Times and taken up by certain media, bloggers and UMNO politicians.”

Indeed, she charged, “the little evidence that has been provided by these parties can be shown to confirm the exact opposite, which is that there has been no tampering of documents. Even so, people who could also have made the very same checks have falsely alleged that Sarawak Report and the Edge newspaper lied and deliberately misled readers with ‘distorted’ information about 1MDB’s missing billions.”

The New Straits Times, she said, never bothered to substantiate “grave and libelous charges” by showing their readers the actual evidence.

“As Sarawak Report pointed out yesterday, we corroborate our claims, so why can’t they? The reason turns out to be that it is startlingly easy to show that the claim is completely untrue.”

Malaysian Activists: Soldier on for Democracy, Freedom and Justice


June 1, 2015

Malaysian Activists: Soldier on for Democracy, Freedom and Justice

Tiananmen Square
Malaysian activists who appeared to suffer from political fatigue are told to embrace the never-give-up spirit in Hong Kong’s social movement. “What we should learn from Hong Kong activists? Persistence,” said political analyst Low Chee Chong at the ‘Remembering Tiananmen Square Massacre’ forum last night.

He related the emergence of Hong Kong’s social movement which was sparked by the infamous Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, where a Beijing student movement demanding for political reforms was brutally stamped out by Chinese troops.

According to Beijing, 200 were killed in the massacre, while the international media reported up to 3,000 deaths.

“The Hong Kongers commemorate the Tianamen massacre every year without fail. They have the July 1 rally as well as the recent 79-day Occupy movement,” said Low.

Likewise, Malaysians were inspired by politicians and activists who stood up against oppression, he added. The social movement here gained traction particularly after the 2008 general election, where hundreds of thousands of Malaysians poured into the streets of Kuala Lumpur to demand free and fair elections. However, the clamour for democracy seems to have died down after the 2013 general election.

Low, who is former PKR Deputy Treasurer, conceded that the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition has failed to live up to the people’s expectation.

But he argued Malaysians who want to see a two-party system should continue to back Pakatan as an alternative to the ruling BN.

“Bear in mind, political change is a long-term struggle. You will not see all your targets achieved at the various stages of the movement,” he said.

The ‘Remembering Tiananmen’ forum, which was attended by 300 people, saw Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong and lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung sharing their experience on video after they were deported on arrival in Malaysia earlier this week.

Hong Kong teen’s advice

Wong, who rose to fame at the tender age of 14 for protesting against changes to the education system imposed by Beijing, urged Malaysians to continue to fight for democracy through his pre-recorded video message.

“While I am not familiar with Malaysian politics, I want to encourage you to continue to fight, (just like) Hong Kong is fighting to uphold its core values of justice and democracy,” said the ‘Umbrella revolution’ activist.

Malaysians can reclaim their democratic rights if they persist in their struggle despite facing suppression by the government, he said.

Wong also shared the difficulties faced by youth activists, which include the likelihood of being banned by local universities, defamed by pro-Beijing media and being rebuffed by the older generation, who prefer not to rock the boat.

Meanwhile, Wong Ji-yuet, a 17-year-old Hong Kong student activist, admitted they made some mistakes in the Occupy movement, dubbed the ‘Umbrella revolution’, which saw thousands of protesters setting up camps in the territory’s business district for weeks last year.

“We tend to go to the streets, but forget to go back to the community and do advocacy work. This needs to be strengthened,” said Ji-yuet, who is spokesperson for student movement Scholarism. Unlike Joshua and Leung, Ji-yuet was allowed to enter Malaysia to attend the forum.

1MDB: Where is the RM42 billion?


June 1, 2015

1MDB: Where is the RM42 billion? Just give us an honest answer and stop the bull, Mr Prime Minister

by Scott Ng@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Confused NajibSome days, I really do wonder what happens up in Najib’s office at Putrajaya, where I imagine a veritable horde of PR consultants, headed by Lim Kok Wing, work tirelessly to try to salvage the much damaged reputation of the Prime Minister. Sweat on their brows, they toil into the late hours to find answers to the questions thrust at the Prime Minister day in and day out, hoping to find a way, any way, to counter the vicious onslaught of Mahathir Mohamad.

I do feel pity for the PR team. They have great odds stacked against them. But then another FAQ appears on Najib’s website that makes me slap my head in disbelief and I remind myself that they’re paid handsomely for their services and thus should be castigated in full measure for their failure to get the Prime Minister to make the right moves.

As blogger Jebat Must Die points out, the FAQ is misleading and, once again, fails to actually answer the questions it purports to answer. For one, it’s riddled with semantics instead of answers, like Najib’s “explanation” for the unaccounted billions that should be in 1MDB’s coffers.

Mr Prime Minister, no one said that the money was a “loss” as that would mean that there would be a paper trail to bad investments or sudden market fluctuations. What we’re asking is, where is the money?

It is quite weird that so much money could just vanish into thin air, and Jebat makes a good point in pointing out that 1MDB purchased RM15 billion worth of assets. If those billions came from the RM42 billion that 1MDB is in debt for, there should be RM27 billion left, aside from the company’s RM51 billion in assets.

For that matter, there is also the extremely valid question of why the 1MDB cannot seem to handle its own corporate crisis communication, leaving our beleaguered PM to answer all queries. You’d think that a company worth billions would invest in a crisis communication team since scandals and such are bound to come up every once in a while. One really has to wonder how much time Najib has for actual governance while he runs around putting out 1MDB’s fires.

The Prime Minister seems unable to get anything right, trying his hardest to pass the buck for the 1MDB to whomever he can shunt it to (most recently, the Auditor-General) only for it to blow up in his face. Jebat makes another great point in recalling that Najib truly is a career politician with no real-world experience, and as history has shown, pampered elites are quite usually disconnected from the rest of the world.

UMNO-TBH Goons

Attempting to attack Mahathir without answering his questions directly is not a viable method of discrediting the former Prime Minister, especially since those same questions are echoed by the general public, the opposition and civil society members. In releasing so-called answers that fail to address the questions, the Prime Minister seems to be taking us for fools yet again despite the public contempt for his previous FAQ, which suffered the same delusional disconnect from reality.

Now that documents have leaked that show Najib has to approve all major investments made by 1MDB, it seems like there truly is no road for his redemption. He is now personally answerable for all the bad investments, the vanished money, and all the baggage that comes with 1MDB, and no amount of out-of-touch FAQs can redeem a brand that damaged.

Fight on if you will, Prime Minister. Give us a good show, and keep us entertained. We’ve paid for it already, anyway. But when the inevitable happens, know that you were the architect of your own fall, not Mahathir, not the opposition, not the “liberals” your administration seems to sneer at, not civil society. You were your own worst enemy.

 

MACC’s Tunku Aziz responds to his critics and detractors


June 1, 2015

MACC’s Tunku Aziz responds to his critics and detractors

Din's MontageOne may disagree with Tunku Aziz about MACC. I too have been very critical of this  anti-Corruption watchdog (should I say lapdog of the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak?) and my views about its Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim and the Commission itself can be read in this blog. Just click corruption or MACC and you can read them or go the blog’s archives.

I have always said that MACC is a dysfunctional, sick and toxic organization. I once received a letter from MACC almost threatening me with legal action for remarks I made by this sweet talking Tan Sri Abu Kassim. By reading about  the late Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbani and the current  legal battle between the MACC chief and Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, you will understand why MACC abuses power.

The MACC favours politicians in power but it is quick to investigate opposition parliamentarians, civil society leaders and others. It makes a mockery of the report of the Tech Beng Hock Royal Commission of Inquiry and the one concerning the infamous Correct, Correct VK Lingam video tape issue. MACC does not understand  accountability and transparency.

All that said, I am happy to put Tunku Aziz’s statement of May 29, 2015 on this blog. He has the right to express his opinion and defend his organization. Read it carefully and then comment on it.This blog is about freedom of expression with responsibility.

I know Tunku Aziz well and our friendship spans over several decades and we are still very good friends although we have different views on politics, economics, intermational affairs and social policy. I agree with him about governance and ethics. I also share his take on Tun Dr. Mahathir. But I disagree with him on Najib Razak, his policies and actions.

Tunku Aziz thinks that the Prime Minister is doing a good job.  But I do not.  On the contrary, in my opinion our Prime Minister is a weak and corrupt leader and has turned out to be an unmitigated national disaster and must therefore resign. I am also of the view that Najib should be investigated and charged for corruption and abuse of power. MACC is will not dare do it, of course since it reports to the Prime Minister. Dr. Mahathir too should be made to account for his 22+ years of misrule. –Din Merican

Tunku Aziz’s Media Statement

MEDIA STATEMENT as issued by Tunku Abdul Aziz in conjunction with a press conference held on Friday May 29, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. at the Eastin Hotel, Petaling Jaya.

tunku-aziz Let me say at the outset that it gives me absolutely no joy in having to say to Tun Mahathir Mohamad that by spewing scurrilous lies about 1MDB without any conclusive proof of wrongdoing by the Prime Minister or anyone else for that matter, he has reduced himself, in the eyes of many, to a figure of fun and ridicule.

His recent performance in Ipoh was admittedly most amusing and kept the audience in stitches, especially when he threw caution and good manners to the winds by repeating vicious rumours about Najib and his family. It was all too personal. Tun Mahathir Mohamad has to make up his mind whether he relishes the idea of being treated as a stand-up comedian or a responsible, respected and revered leader of men. On current performance he presents himself as an embittered, vindictive man who apparently is prepared to gamble with his reputation in pursuit of an unworthy cause bordering on obsession. His motive is suspect.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is a bundle of inconsistencies and contradictions. He froths at the mouth every time he accuses 1MDB of causing a staggering RM 42 billion to disappear without a trace. This, as it turns out, is pure fiction, of course. As matters stand today, the figure of RM42 billion that he has used with regular monotony to get at the Prime Minister is shown very clearly as a debt in the company’s books. Company borrowings are a normal part of operating a business as Tun knows only too well. For the sake of good order and in the larger interests of justice and fair play, Tun should eat humble pie, take a deep breath, admit his mistake and apologise to the Prime Minister and the top management of 1MDB whom he has maligned. And while he is about it, will Tun please also apologise to all Malaysians for misleading them?

When he was Prime Minister several massive scandals broke out. He cunningly side-stepped the Dr Mahathir and C Brownissue of accountability. He explained with that familiar self-satisfied smirk on his face that in the case of the loans given by Bank Bumiputra Finance (BMF) to the Carrian Group and two other Hong Kong companies, when someone who was ‘established’ in the business world asked for a loan, one should not scrutinise his application too closely. Tun perhaps needs someone to jog his memory a little. During his premiership, but for the grace of God and Petronas this country would have been left high and dry as a result of frenzied institutionalised gambling in several financially disastrous scams involving the Ministry of Finance, Bank Negara Malaysia, and the Employees Provident Fund among other agencies.

One of the biggest scandals in world banking history was the BMF affair that cost the country US$800 million. Other loans amounting to US$163 million were made to companies in Hong Kong. These were doubtful loans from the start and had to be written off. We are talking about the early eighties: and the losses if expressed in today’s value would be many times the amounts incurred some 30 years ago.

Then there was the ‘Tin Caper’ in which Malaysia played the star role of the ‘Mystery Buyer’ to make a killing by the apparently simple expedient of cornering the international tin market. That cost the country RM660.5 million in losses according to Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yeik, one time minister of primary industries .As if this was not enough, we followed this up with the most notorious financial scandal of all – the foray into the FOREX market using the nation’s reserves to gamble, leaving Bank Negara Malaysia dangerously exposed. Bank Negara Malaysia lost RM30 billion (RM58 billion at today’s value) in this gambling spree. Typically Mahathir denied responsibility and to this day he remains unrepentant, blasé, and unapologetic for the scandals that happened when he was the head of government. His manic gambling with Bank Bumi and BNM money scandalised monetary authorities around the world. Tun Mahathir lost heavily in the tin escapade which saw the collapse of the International Tin Council and the disappearance of the tin industry worldwide.

He effectively turned the once respected Bank Negara Malaysia, the Central Bank of Malaysia, into a rogue institution. In the event, RM30 billion, (RM58 billion in today’s terms) was lost. It took BNM at least 10 years to amortise, and close the books finally in 2003 on this, the most shameful betrayal of trust in our history. BNM was close to being brought to its knees given its colossal exposure and rapidly depleting national reserves. Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli in his affidavit claimed that he was ordered to buy MAS at a vastly inflated price so that the government could cover the Forex gambling losses.

As these losses have never been satisfactorily explained, I urge the government to reopen the Forex case to establish whether any laws had been broken by the Mahathir administration in using the reserves held by Bank Negara Malaysia for the purpose of currency speculation. Those responsible who are still living today should be called to account for their actions. The government owes the people of Malaysia who have been left to pick up the pieces from this financial disaster a duty to effect a proper closure. I will be making a police report to get things started.

Mahathir’s Supporter takes a shot at Tunku Aziz.

Former DAP Vice Chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim has apparently bitten off more than he can chew in taking potshots at former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who has questioned Najib Abdul Razak’s qualification to be Prime Minister and demanded that he step down. Mahathir’s beef with Najib is the scandal-ridden 1MDB, among others.

Former New Straits Times Political Editor Firdaus Abdullah, for one, has reminded Tunku Aziz in a series of tweets that those who stay in glass houses should not throw stones.“Don’t be a political prostitute cos you have an axe to grind,” tweeted Firdaus who also blogs as Apanama. “Don’t let me shame you.”

READ ON: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/06/01/dont-be-a-political-prostitute-tunku-aziz-told/

Looking Back: Anti-Muslim monk stokes Burmese religious tensions


May 20, 2015

Looking Back: Anti-Muslim monk stokes Burmese religious tensions

By Jonah Fisher

This week (in August 2013), religious violence has once again flared in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Hundreds of Muslim homes have been burnt to the ground in Sagaing region after being attacked by Buddhist mobs.

In just over a year, more than 200 people, mostly Muslims, have been killed and many more displaced as unrest has spread from Rakhine state in the west to towns across the country. Many are blaming a controversial monk and the nationalist organisation he helps lead for the rising tensions.

wirathuMonk Shin Wirathu at work.

This morning, he is lecturing on the importance of avoiding sexual misconduct.”Yes, venerable monk,” the young men chant in unison, as Wirathu softly delivers his advice on the need to avoid temptation.

When the class is over, he shows me outside. On the wall of the monastery courtyard are graphic posters of the Buddhist victims of recent religious and ethnic violence in Rakhine state in western Myanmar.

They are unpleasant viewing. The pictures from October last year show dead children with their heads cut open and the bodies of women with their internal organs spilling out of their torsos. Wirathu said he put them up as a reminder to Buddhists that the country is under attack from Muslim “invaders”.

“Muslims are only well behaved when they are weak, ” he said. “When they become strong, they are like a wolf or a jackal; in large packs they hunt down other animals.”Wirathu believes there is a Muslim “master plan” underway to turn Myanmar into an Islamic state.

If he is right, it is a long-term project. Latest estimates suggest that of Myanmar’s 60 million people, 90% are Buddhist and about 5% Muslim.

“Over the past 50 years, we have shopped at Muslim shops and then they became richer and wealthier than us and can buy and marry our girls,” Wirathu said. “In this way, they have destroyed and penetrated not only our nation but also our religion.”

Master Plan

_69534222_joonmosque

Wirathu’s solution lies in a controversial nationalist organisation called 969. It calls on Buddhists to shop, sell property and marry within their own religion.Small, brightly-coloured stickers have been distributed to clearly brand businesses as Buddhist-owned.

Supporters of 969 argue it is a purely defensive organisation, created to protect Buddhist culture and identity. Listening to the rhetoric of Wirathu and 969’s leaders, there is no doubt it is squarely aimed at Muslims.

“In the past, there was no discrimination based on religion and race. We all stayed together in a brotherly way,” Wirathu said. “But when their [Muslim] master plan has been revealed we can no longer stay quiet.”

From Rakhine state in the west, to more central towns like Meiktila and Okkan, the link is being made between heightened religious tensions and the preaching and activities of monks and 969.

The outbreaks of violence usually have a depressing symmetry. A small flashpoint, often a crime or perceived insult, perpetrated by a Muslim against a Buddhist, triggers a disproportionate wave of reprisals against the entire Muslim community.

Ten years ago, under the military junta, Wirathu was jailed for his anti-Muslim views. Now in these times of change, his message is widely disseminated through social media and DVDs. Far from being condemned, Wirathu now has backing from the very top.

In June, as his infamy reached its peak, Wirathu appeared on the front cover of Time magazine labelled “The face of Buddhist terror”. Burmese monks were outraged and Myanmar’s President Thein Sein quickly leapt to Wirathu’s defence. The Time issue was banned and a statement released with the President lauding Wirathu as a “son of Lord Buddha”.

‘Obstacle to reform’

_69534220_smarnyinyiSmar Nyi Nyi 

There is no shortage of theories inside Myanmar as to why Wirathu is now flavour of the month. One theory is that continuing ethnic and religious violence could be used by the military as a pretext for maintaining a dominant role in Burmese politics. It is certainly an argument Myanmar’s generals have made before.

kaylarsa

“We are also wondering about this,” Kaylar Sa (above), a monk jailed for his part in the Saffron revolution of 2007, told me as he chain-smoked his way through a pack of Red Ruby cigarettes. He pointed out that the government has acted decisively and violently to end monk-led demonstrations against an army-backed copper mine last year, and yet now was unwilling to tackle them over hate speech.

“At the moment, we firmly believe that the 969 movement is unnecessary,” he said. “If this movement continues to be taken seriously, it could become an obstacle to democratic reform.”

A short drive from Wirathu’s monastery, Muslim volunteers guard Joon Mosque, the biggest in Mandalay, each night. The men told me that in the event of a Buddhist attack, they expect no protection from the (Buddhist-dominated) police or the army.

Smar Nyi Nyi, a veteran of the 1988 student uprising and one of the elders at the mosque, took me to one side. He expressed views that many Burmese share, that shadowy elements within the establishment are stoking the unrest.

“Everybody is talking about the violence between Buddhists and Muslims,” he said. “Nobody is interested in the dam on the Irrawaddy River. No one is interested in the gas pipeline. If somebody is controlling things, he is a smart man!”

Some Muslims cling to the hope that there exists a silent majority of moderate Buddhists appalled by recent events, secretly rooting for them.

“Most of the Buddhists, they are just onlookers ” a retired Muslim doctor tells me with a shrug. “A few might pass a heartfelt regard and say they’re sorry, but that doesn’t come above the surface.”

For Wirathu, each fresh outbreak of religious conflict reinforces his view that Myanmar is part of a global war on militant Islam and that he is being badly misunderstood.

“We don’t use drones – we haven’t killed [Osama] Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein or the Taliban,” he told me.”We are just preaching and posting on the internet and Facebook for the safety and security of our nation. If we are all protecting our own nation who’s the bad guy – Wirathu or Barack Obama?”

Why Did They Kill? — An Anthropologist Looks at the Cambodian Genocide


May 14, 2015

Phnom Penh by The Mekong

Tuol-Sleng-prison-survivo-006 I am now reading Hinton’s book, Why Did They Kill? in order to refresh myself. This study gives me useful background and a clearer understanding of what happened to the  smiling, polite and gentle people of Cambodia during the dark days of the Pol Pot-led Khmer Rouge (Red Khmer) reign of terror from 1975 to 1979.. Having read William Shawcross’ book, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia  on US involvement in this Southeast Asian nation during the Nixon Presidency, featuring the controversial Henry A. Kissinger, this more recent book gives me an anthropological perspective on the Cambodian genocide and the ideology and character of the Khmer Maoist agrarian experiment that brought untold hardships and tragedy to the smiling Cambodians. It is equally regrettable to note that Malaysia supported the Khmer Rouge when they occupied the country after the Civil War which  evicted the US supported Lon Nol regime. I am told that Malaysia supported the ousted Prince Norodom Sihanouk not  the secretive Pol Pot and his band of murderers.–Din Merican

Why Did They Kill? — An Anthropologist Looks at the Cambodian Genocide

Among the modern horrors of mass killings of non combatants, from the Holocaust on [or for many scholars from the Amaleks on,] that of Cambodia stands out with particular starkness.  From 1975 to 1979 something like one quarter of the population was killed, not by another ethnic or religious group but by those who shared every marker which is used to identify likeness and difference among humans.  True, the non-Khmer Cham people, were singled out as the Khmer Rouge consolidated itself following a brutal civil war, but the vast majority of those herded, hounded, worked to death, tortured, beaten and shot were Khmer Buddhists, just as the perpetrators were.

Why did this happen?  What motivated the participants?  Why did Buddhist and centuries long cultural values provide so little resistance?  Outside the particularities, what if anything did the Khmer genocide share with those of the European Jews, Rwandan Tutsi (1994,)  Bosnian Muslims (1992-1995?) [Want a list?  Here and here.] Can incipient genocides be seen in their formative stages and prevented?  Indeed, are the actions and motivations of those perpetrating genocidal massacres separable from those engaging in search-and-destroy missions, or declaring free-fire zones in other wars?

He is particularly engaged with the question of perpetrator motivation.  The claim made by most that they had to kill because they had to take orders or die, does not explain the excessive, individually generated, cruelty shown by so many.  His uses as a gruesome example three men who take another to the woods for stealing cassava root, tie him to a tree and cut his liver from him, cook and eat it while the victim bleeds to death.  They received no order to do this. He does not mention, though it stays indelibly in the minds of all who see it, the tree in the killing field, against which babies were bashed to death.  It is now covered with colored wrist amulets and small pieces of cloth from those who break down in tears at merely the thought.
Book on Cambodian genocideAs one at whom this question of ‘why do people kill’ has long gnawed, and as a recent visitor to Cambodia and the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, along with its associated killing field, Alexander Hinton’s book, Why Did They Kill: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide (UC Press, 2005)  lept out from the small book offerings at the former prison, now something of a museum.

Two other slender books set the scene.  Both were by elderly survivors of months of torture and starvation at the prison, where they now volunteer to witness those years for the Cambodian youth, and other tourists who come through.

Bou Meng was an artist, whose skill at painting a portrait of Pol Pot saved him from death, though not terrible privation and cruelty.  His story and background, including being part of the Khmer Rouge, is told by Huy Vannak, a Cambodian researcher, who worked with Hinton at Rutgers. Bou Meng’s powerful paintings of his prison years are hung in one of the rooms of the museum but are not, as far as I can find, available on-line. [For others I have found, see the end of this post.]Chum Mey, the second living witness, was saved because of his talent with fixing things.  Even while the Khmer Rouge were destroying those with skills and knowledge they had to save a few to keep their own vehicles and machines going.  Both books recount cruelties beyond imagining, and the sorrow of survivors. [Though there are copies available on-line, the prices are outrageous, and the money won’t go to the men, or the museum.  Try Documentation Center of Cambodia where the books were published; it is not responding as I write this.]

Hinton’s book is a terrifically serious and well informed study of the Cambodian experience. Now in the Anthropology Department at Rutgers, he went to Cambodia in 1992 to continue his graduate work on ‘the embodiment of emotion in Cambodia’ and soon shifted his focus to deal with what he was seeing and learning.  The Vietnamese occupation of ten years, which had ended the Pol Pot regime had ended only three years before; the Paris Peace accords had been signed months before his arrival. Cambodia was in ruins. He lived in a small village which had been depopulated during the genocide, conducting multiple interviews in the field which are the basis for his examination and analysis, reflecting onto and out of extensive academic work in genocide studies.  His work is rich and detailed.  The reader will learn much about Cambodian culture, belief and behavior, not only during the years of killing, but crucially, through the generations before.

Robert Jay Lifton, whose work on the Holocaust, POW thought-control, Hiroshima survivors, Vietnam Vets and the current War on Terror has almost defined a field now called psychohistory, sets up the contours in a brief forward.

…the mass killing in Cambodia follows a sequence that has been observed in virtually every genocide: a sense of profound collective dislocation and humiliation, a historical ‘sickness unto death'; an ideological vision of revitalization and total cure, which comes to include a vast program of killing to heal; and the enlistment of a vast genocidal bureaucracy in an unending quest for national purification.  … Genocide is apocalyptic  as it requires a form of world destruction in the service of a vision… or absolute political and spiritual renewal.

Hinton reminds us that the genocide did not spring up, whole cloth, out of nowhere.  The US bombing of Cambodia, 18 March, 1969-28 May, 1970, resulted in something like 150,000 deaths in the south eastern part of the country, and massive dislocation of people and destruction of their ability to make a livelihood.  When Lon Nol joined the coup against King Sihanouk in March, 1970 the Khmer Rouge, having grown from a minuscule national communist party into a formidable force by harnessing anger and resentment against the bombings, were ready to mount a credible opposition.  When Sihanouk, from exile, pleaded with his people to join and support the Khmer Rouge against the treasonous Lon Nol, they responded  and a civil war ensued that took something like 500,000 lives. Almost as soon the KR took power in April 1975 various factions began turning against each other, leading to the purges, elimination of the educated and massive population transfers out of the cities which would eventually lead to the deaths of some 2 million people, about one-fourth of the population.

As an anthropologist, and one who speaks Khmer, Hinton did his field work.  He collected hundreds of hours of interviews with victims, and those executioners who would talk — many of whom, unsurprisingly, say they were innocent of the most gruesome charges, guilty only of following orders.  Indeed, even Pol Pot himself, is quoted as saying ” …even now, and you can look at me: Am I a savage person? My conscience is clear.”

In seven chapters Hinton brings us both the material of the interviews and an analysis  that aims to fit the particulars of Cambodian society to the wider, global phenomenon of genocidal behavior.   Chapter One looks at his notion of ‘disproportional revenge’ in the Cambodian historical setting where peasant anger over US bombings, dislocation and poverty could be given an initial focus against the Lon Nol forces, and then turned back, inward, against newly identified ‘class enemies.’

He sees in Cambodia’s Therevada Buddhist culture structures of power and patronage, which during normal times order relations between people and their world, but which serve as ready vessels for the new wine of suspicion and brutality. He examines how anger is framed and spoken of in Buddhist culture, and yet how, in some people, the beliefs wither and anger takes hold, finding new lines of exculpation in KR ‘theology’

He is particularly engaged with the question of perpetrator motivation.  The claim made by most that they had to kill because they had to take orders or die, does not explain the excessive, individually generated, cruelty shown by so many.  His uses as a gruesome example three men who take another to the woods for stealing cassava root, tie him to a tree and cut his liver from him, cook and eat it while the victim bleeds to death.  They received no order to do this. He does not mention, though it stays indelibly in the minds of all who see it, the tree in the killing field, against which babies were bashed to death.  It is now covered with colored wrist amulets and small pieces of cloth from those who break down in tears at merely the thought.

How does this happen?  How, if as many Khmer Rouge claimed, they killed only to avoid being killed, did the individual acts turn so grotesque, so unrelentingly sadistic?  He shows how orders and understandings, coming from ‘on high’ are filtered through local and personal histories and frames — from generations old stories of revenge and extirpating enemies root and branch, to violence suffered at the hands of Lon Nol forces transmuted and carried out against those ‘marked’ as outsiders, as a disease which had to be purified.

To understand such chilling spaces of violence …we need to examine how ideology is linked to local knowledge and psycho-social  processes.  During DK. social status was largely correlated with ‘revolutionary consciousness’ a notion that was itself forged out of an amalgam of Marxist-Leninist ideas and the Buddhist conception of ‘mindfulness.’  A person with ‘pure’ revolutionary consciousness applied the party line ‘mindfully,’ maintained an attitude of renunciation. and was completely loyal to the party.

He analyses how ‘difference’ was ‘manufactured, and how cultural notions of ‘face’ and honor were used to motivate killings.  He traces the idea and practice of disproportionate revenge.

His notion of ‘genocidal priming’ and ‘genocidal activation’ seem very good theoretical tools to inquire into similarities and differences between genocides.

Yet, as thorough an analysis and history as this is, I am left unsatisfied. In part, as the quote above exemplifies, resonant understanding is obscured by high register academic language. Two other examples: “As I noted in Chapter 5, the bodies of victims serve as symbolic templates through which their subjectivity and that of the perpetrator may be manufactured.” And: “…if we are to answer the most pressing questions about the origins of genocide..we must take a processual approach that weaves together the warp and woof of various levels of analysis.”

With concentrated reading I get it.  But as one with organizer’s bones as well as a student’s brain the language seems far removed from real understanding, from actionable understanding. The genocidaires of the world understand the language needed to carry out their schemes; those who want to disrupt and eliminate their genocidal priming have to find the language suited to the task.

I even wonder if, as useful as the idea of genocide has been since its coinage by Raphael Lemkin in 1948, by creating a category of super-murder, as it were, what is actually a continuum of motivation and behavior isn’t obscured.  The field of genocide studies sometimes seems more taken up with discussions of what constitutes a real genocide than in understanding the similarities between all forms of mass killing. If a single village in a country is wiped out, and only that village, for that village it is a genocide.  Whether or not genocide was intended, for god’s sake, has nothing to do with the facts of the slaughter. Manslaughter we all get, the unplanned killing of another; but involuntary mass killing?  If 100,00 are killed by those who want to wipe them out, and succeed, and another 100,000 are killed simply because they are in the path of directed destruction don’t we have a distinction without a difference?
What, for example, distinguishes the actions of US soldiers in Vietnam (see particularly the recent revelations in Nick Turse’s Kill Anything that Moves) from those of the Khmer Rouge? Heinous murders of those who are not resisting, and will never be a threat.  Policy at the top might be different: presumably the US high command did not intend to kill everyone, though the leadership of the Khmer Rouge claims neither did they. ‘Shit happens when great populations are transferred; resistance must be dealt with.’  But what separates the extreme and swift re-ordering of Cambodian society envisioned by the KR from the swift and extreme re-ordering of Vietnamese society in the Secure Hamlet policies of the US?  Why is the death of those two million a genocide and that two million not?  What distinguishes the torturers in the US from those of the KR?  Does it make any theoretical difference that in the one case the perpetrators were invaders and in the other were native to the soil of the carnage?
Not to pick on the United States alone. Pakistan’s president Yahya Khan called for a ‘final solution’ to the rebellious Bengalis during the Bangladesh rebellion.Sadaam Hussein ordered the death by poison gas of Iraqi-Kurds. The Japanese army in China carried out massive slaughters and conducted cruel experiments.  Is what they did different from King Leopold’s rubber-worker slaughters in the Congo, or what the Ottoman Turks did to the Turkish Armenians? Are Orthodox Jewish Rabbis calling for ‘the extermination of male arabs’ to be distinguished from the Germans who said the same?

Does categorizing one as genocide, the other not-genocide, or indeed Genocide I and Genocide IV helps us understand motivation and action at the state level or that of  the individual who actually guts the pregnant mother, smashes the baby against the tree, burns the village to the ground the living included?

Mass violence would seem to me to be a spectrum disorder, running from the least organized individual mass killings to the most organized, most participated in societal exterminations. The individual behavior, described in soldiers at their killing extreme by Karl Marlantes in What It Is Like to Go to War, as ‘berserking’, must everywhere be similar, though cloaked in local cloth.  The explanations each killer gives himself for his rampage will come from German authoritarianism, or Buddhist respect and subservience to older, better, higher, or Catholic obedience to Church and its reasons, as currently interpreted.

Everywhere belief is strong and evidence is weak, the containers of belief can be filled with new persuasions.  Everywhere those who trigger the slaughters know they must speak in a motivational language, not just of German or Khmer, but coming from deep in the culture and turning old understandings inside out. Buddhism will be banned but the structures of believing among Buddhists will be applied to the authorities now making claims on their lives.

Among genocide scholars, the goal is to identify genocide in the making and to know better how to intervene — though usually that has been understood as how to get others to intervene rather that how to internally interrupt the genocide priming, and especially the genocide activation,k which Hinton identifies. He does no better than others in showing us where the Cambodians might have known or might have acted as catastrophe built.

At what point, by what measure, does a population know that hate radio is priming a genocide?  When can it still be ignored, passing as “entertainment” as its foremost practitioners in the US claim it is? How does a population brought up for generations to honor their ‘superiors’ know when to resist, to not participate in their evil?

Among the modern horrors of mass killings of non combatants, from the Holocaust on [or for many scholars from the Amaleks on,] that of Cambodia stands out with particular starkness.  From 1975 to 1979 something like one quarter of the population was killed, not by another ethnic or religious group but by those who shared every marker which is used to identify likeness and difference among humans.  True, the non-Khmer Cham people, were singled out as the Khmer Rouge consolidated itself following a brutal civil war, but the vast majority of those herded, hounded, worked to death, tortured, beaten and shot were Khmer Buddhists, just as the perpetrators were.

Why did this happen?  What motivated the participants?  Why did Buddhist and centuries long cultural values provide so little resistance?  Outside the particularities, what if anything did the Khmer genocide share with those of the European Jews, Rwandan Tutsi (1994,)  Bosnian Muslims (1992-1995?) [Want a list?  Here and here.] Can incipient genocides be seen in their formative stages and prevented?  Indeed, are the actions and motivations of those perpetrating genocidal massacres separable from those engaging in search-and-destroy missions, or declaring free-fire zones in other wars?

As one at whom this question of ‘why do people kill’ has long gnawed, and as a recent visitor to Cambodia and the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, along with its associated killing field, Alexander Hinton’s book, Why Did They Kill: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide (UC Press, 2005)  lept out from the small book offerings at the former prison, now something of a museum.

Two other slender books set the scene.  Both were by elderly survivors of months of torture and starvation at the prison, where they now volunteer to witness those years for the Cambodian youth, and other tourists who come through.  Bou

Meng was an artist, whose skill at painting a portrait of Pol Pot saved him from death, though not terrible privation and cruelty.  His story and background, including being part of the Khmer Rouge, is told by Huy Vannak, a Cambodian researcher, who worked with Hinton at Rutgers. Bou Meng’s powerful paintings of his prison years are hung in one of the rooms of the museum but are not, as far as I can find, available on-line. [For others I have found, see the end of this post.]

Chum Mey, the second living witness, was saved because of his talent with fixing things.  Even while the Khmer Rouge were destroying those with skills and knowledge they had to save a few to keep their own vehicles and machines going.  Both books recount cruelties beyond imagining, and the sorrow of survivors. [Though there are copies available on-line, the prices are outrageous, and the money won’t go to the men, or the museum.  Try Documentation Center of Cambodia where the books were published; it is not responding as I write this.]

Hinton’s book is a terrifically serious and well informed study of the Cambodian experience. Now in the Anthropology Department at Rutgers, he went to Cambodia in 1992 to continue his graduate work on ‘the embodiment of emotion in Cambodia’ and soon shifted his focus to deal with what he was seeing and learning.  The Vietnamese occupation of ten years, which had ended the Pol Pot regime had ended only three years before; the Paris Peace accords had been signed months before his arrival. Cambodia was in ruins. He lived in a small village which had been depopulated during the genocide, conducting multiple interviews in the field which are the basis for his examination and analysis, reflecting onto and out of extensive academic work in genocide studies.  His work is rich and detailed.  The reader will learn much about Cambodian culture, belief and behavior, not only during the years of killing, but crucially, through the generations before.

Robert Jay Lifton, whose work on the Holocaust, POW thought-control, Hiroshima survivors, Vietnam Vets and the current War on Terror has almost defined a field now called psychohistory, sets up the contours in a brief forward.

…the mass killing in Cambodia follows a sequence that has been observed in virtually every genocide: a sense of profound collective dislocation and humiliation, a historical ‘sickness unto death'; an ideological vision of revitalization and total cure, which comes to include a vast program of killing to heal; and the enlistment of a vast genocidal bureaucracy in an unending quest for national purification.  … Genocide is apocalyptic  as it requires a form of world destruction in the service of a vision… or absolute political and spiritual renewal.

Hinton reminds us that the genocide did not spring up, whole cloth, out of nowhere.  The US bombing of Cambodia, 18 March, 1969-28 May, 1970, resulted in something like 150,000 deaths in the south eastern part of the country, and massive dislocation of people and destruction of their ability to make a livelihood.  When Lon Nol joined the coup against King Sihanouk in March, 1970 the Khmer Rouge, having grown from a minuscule national communist party into a formidable force by harnessing anger and resentment against the bombings, were ready to mount a credible opposition.  When Sihanouk, from exile, pleaded with his people to join and support the Khmer Rouge against the treasonous Lon Nol, they responded  and a civil war ensued that took something like 500,000 lives. Almost as soon the KR took power in April 1975 various factions began turning against each other, leading to the purges, elimination of the educated and massive population transfers out of the cities which would eventually lead to the deaths of some 2 million people, about one-fourth of the population.

As an anthropologist, and one who speaks Khmer, Hinton did his field work.  He collected hundreds of hours of interviews with victims, and those executioners who would talk — many of whom, unsurprisingly, say they were innocent of the most gruesome charges, guilty only of following orders.  Indeed, even Pol Pot himself, is quoted as saying ” …even now, and you can look at me: Am I a savage person? My conscience is clear.”

In seven chapters Hinton brings us both the material of the interviews and an analysis  that aims to fit the particulars of Cambodian society to the wider, global phenomenon of genocidal behavior.   Chapter One looks at his notion of ‘disproportional revenge’ in the Cambodian historical setting where peasant anger over US bombings, dislocation and poverty could be given an initial focus against the Lon Nol forces, and then turned back, inward, against newly identified ‘class enemies.’

He sees in Cambodia’s Therevada Buddhist culture structures of power and patronage, which during normal times order relations between people and their world, but which serve as ready vessels for the new wine of suspicion and brutality. He examines how anger is framed and spoken of in Buddhist culture, and yet how, in some people, the beliefs wither and anger takes hold, finding new lines of exculpation in KR ‘theology’

He is particularly engaged with the question of perpetrator motivation.  The claim made by most that they had to kill because they had to take orders or die, does not explain the excessive, individually generated, cruelty shown by so many.  His uses as a gruesome example three men who take another to the woods for stealing cassava root, tie him to a tree and cut his liver from him, cook and eat it while the victim bleeds to death.  They received no order to do this. He does not mention, though it stays indelibly in the minds of all who see it, the tree in the killing field, against which babies were bashed to death.  It is now covered with colored wrist amulets and small pieces of cloth from those who break down in tears at merely the thought.

How does this happen?  How, if as many Khmer Rouge claimed, they killed only to avoid being killed, did the individual acts turn so grotesque, so unrelentingly sadistic?  He shows how orders and understandings, coming from ‘on high’ are filtered through local and personal histories and frames — from generations old stories of revenge and extirpating enemies root and branch, to violence suffered at the hands of Lon Nol forces transmuted and carried out against those ‘marked’ as outsiders, as a disease which had to be purified.

To understand such chilling spaces of violence …we need to examine how ideology is linked to local knowledge and psycho-social  processes.  During DK. social status was largely correlated with ‘revolutionary consciousness’ a notion that was itself forged out of an amalgam of Marxist-Leninist ideas and the Buddhist conception of ‘mindfulness.’  A person with ‘pure’ revolutionary consciousness applied the party line ‘mindfully,’ maintained an attitude of renunciation. and was completely loyal to the party.

He analyses how ‘difference’ was ‘manufactured, and how cultural notions of ‘face’ and honor were used to motivate killings.  He traces the idea and practice of disproportionate revenge.

His notion of ‘genocidal priming’ and ‘genocidal activation’ seem very good theoretical tools to inquire into similarities and differences between genocides.

Yet, as thorough an analysis and history as this is, I am left unsatisfied. In part, as the quote above exemplifies, resonant understanding is obscured by high register academic language. Two other examples: “As I noted in Chapter 5, the bodies of victims serve as symbolic templates through which their subjectivity and that of the perpetrator may be manufactured.” And: “…if we are to answer the most pressing questions about the origins of genocide..we must take a processual approach that weaves together the warp and woof of various levels of analysis.”

With concentrated reading I get it.  But as one with organizer’s bones as well as a student’s brain the language seems far removed from real understanding, from actionable understanding. The genocidaires of the world understand the language needed to carry out their schemes; those who want to disrupt and eliminate their genocidal priming have to find the language suited to the task.

I even wonder if, as useful as the idea of genocide has been since its coinage by Raphael Lemkin in 1948, by creating a category of super-murder, as it were, what is actually a continuum of motivation and behavior isn’t obscured.  The field of genocide studies sometimes seems more taken up with discussions of what constitutes a real genocide than in understanding the similarities between all forms of mass killing. If a single village in a country is wiped out, and only that village, for that village it is a genocide.  Whether or not genocide was intended, for god’s sake, has nothing to do with the facts of the slaughter. Manslaughter we all get, the unplanned killing of another; but involuntary mass killing?  If 100,00 are killed by those who want to wipe them out, and succeed, and another 100,000 are killed simply because they are in the path of directed destruction don’t we have a distinction without a difference?

What, for example, distinguishes the actions of US soldiers in Vietnam (see particularly the recent revelations in Nick Turse’s Kill Anything that Moves) from those of the Khmer Rouge? Heinous murders of those who are not resisting, and will never be a threat.  Policy at the top might be different: presumably the US high command did not intend to kill everyone, though the leadership of the Khmer Rouge claims neither did they. ‘Shit happens when great populations are transferred; resistance must be dealt with.’  But what separates the extreme and swift re-ordering of Cambodian society envisioned by the KR from the swift and extreme re-ordering of Vietnamese society in the Secure Hamlet policies of the US?  Why is the death of those two million a genocide and that two million not?  What distinguishes the torturers in the US from those of the KR?  Does it make any theoretical difference that in the one case the perpetrators were invaders and in the other were native to the soil of the carnage?

Not to pick on the United States alone.  Pakistan’s president Yahya Khan called for a ‘final solution’ to the rebellious Bengalis during the Bangladesh rebellion.  Sadaam Hussein ordered the death by poison gas of Iraqi-Kurds. The Japanese army in China carried out massive slaughters and conducted cruel experiments.  Is what they did different from King Leopold’s rubber-worker slaughters in the Congo, or what the Ottoman Turks did to the Turkish Armenians? Are Orthodox Jewish Rabbis calling for ‘the extermination of male arabs’ to be distinguished from the Germans who said the same?

Does categorizing one as genocide, the other not-genocide, or indeed Genocide I and Genocide IV helps us understand motivation and action at the state level or that of  the individual who actually guts the pregnant mother, smashes the baby against the tree, burns the village to the ground the living included?

Mass violence would seem to me to be a spectrum disorder, running from the least organized individual mass killings to the most organized, most participated in societal exterminations. The individual behavior, described in soldiers at their killing extreme by Karl Marlantes in What It Is Like to Go to War, as ‘berserking’, must everywhere be similar, though cloaked in local cloth.  The explanations each killer gives himself for his rampage will come from German authoritarianism, or Buddhist respect and subservience to older, better, higher, or Catholic obedience to Church and its reasons, as currently interpreted.

Everywhere belief is strong and evidence is weak, the containers of belief can be filled with new persuasions.  Everywhere those who trigger the slaughters know they must speak in a motivational language, not just of German or Khmer, but coming from deep in the culture and turning old understandings inside out. Buddhism will be banned but the structures of believing among Buddhists will be applied to the authorities now making claims on their lives.

Among genocide scholars, the goal is to identify genocide in the making and to know better how to intervene — though usually that has been understood as how to get others to intervene rather that how to internally interrupt the genocide priming, and especially the genocide activation,k which Hinton identifies. He does no better than others in showing us where the Cambodians might have known or might have acted as catastrophe built.

At what point, by what measure, does a population know that hate radio is priming a genocide?  When can it still be ignored, passing as “entertainment” as its foremost practitioners in the US claim it is? How does a population brought up for generations to honor their ‘superiors’ know when to resist, to not participate in their evil?

In the end, the answers may be simple. In the present, no one seems to know.  I think though, that the proper question is not “Why Did They Kill?”  but “Why Do We Kill?” The list of the genocidal spectrum excludes no one, past or future.

Hinton’s book is a valuable addition particularly to the Cambodian experience, but to the field of genocide studies.  Much work to be done yet, and I think, much simplification and self-searching along with searching the complexities and looking at the others.

– See more at: http://www.allinoneboat.org/2013/04/02/why-did-they-kill-an-anthropologist-looks-at-the-cambodian-genocide/#sthash.N71qlyR5.dpuf

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