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Stories of survival under the Khmer Rouge

Cambodia. A small Southeast Asian country with ancient roots that trace back to the 4th century. Bordered by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, Cambodia was, from the 11th to the 15th century a major power in Southeast Asia.

The Khmer empire of Angkor has left us some of the most incredible building achievements of the ancient World. Angkor Wat, the largest of these structures, is the largest religious structure ever built, and is visible from outer space.

In its more modern history, Cambodia was the scene of one of the worst genocides of the 20th century. In a World that had witnessed Nazi genocide and had sworn ‘never again’, Cambodia’s ‘auto-genocide’ under Khmer Rouge rule begs the question – How did the World allow mass genocide to happen again?

This question is a complex one. ‘Blame’ must be laid at the feet of not only the obvious targets Pol Pot and the other leaders of the Khmer Rouge, but also at the feet of super-powers and their proxies, who provided the conditions that led to one of the worst genocides of this century.

It may seem as though there could be no heroes in this story, but there are. The heroes are the Cambodian people themselves, who managed to survive the horror and are re-building their country. Other heroic actions by individuals such as Janne Ritskes, founder of the Tabitha Foundation, give us hope that individuals doing good can have an up-lifting effect on an entire country.

© R.J. Carver 2010

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The opinions and information expressed  in "Surviving Angkar" are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tabitha Foundation.