Thai politics have been somewhat baffling the past two weeks. So has Cambodian politics. And as always when the two Kingdoms clash and create irrational political atmospheres, people have suffered. In this case, several people have died. But let’s start with the beginning:
Preah Vihear is an unimaginably beautiful place. It is a
province, but it takes it’s name after an 11th Century Khmer
Temple, which towers over
the landscape on a 525-metre high mountain. The temple is stunningly
well-preserved – there are still carvings of dancing Apsaras, Buddha statues
and stone stair cases leading up to a perhaps even more breathtaking view over
That is utterly unimportant, though.
35 years of prison time for Kaeng Kek Iev – better known as
Duch – is strange. Iev, a prison chief
notorious torture prison S-21 during the reign of the Khmer Rouge, is
responsible for the violent and untimely death of about 14000 people.
He is the first person ever to stand trial and receive
verdict for his crimes during the genocide in 1975-79.
Sivarak Chutipong is a name everyone, who follows South East
Asian news, will recognize. From complete anonymousity just a few months ago,
Sivarak Chutipong became famous over night. Why? He is a spy.
In Cambodia, on Tuesday
Oct 26, a nun was murdered. She had grabbed the wrong bowl to feed the pigs
with and then an angry man beat her to death with a stick for her mistake. Same
day, in an unrelated case, a young student became the center of a drunken
brawl. Two men got so upset with the student that they beat him with a hammer
and an iron bar.
The only thing those two
incidents have in common – apart from a deadly outcome for the victim – is that
the perpetrator was a Buddhist monk.
NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies
Thirty years after the end of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, a ‘hybrid’ war crimes tribunal has finally begun. A mixed team of Cambodian and foreign lawyers have just kicked into motion with the trial of ‘Duch’, the first of five suspects to be tried. The others are Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan, Ieng Thirith, Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea.
Hilda Rømer Christensen,
NIAS – Nordisk Institut for Asienstudier
Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University, Sweden