Tag: Khmer Rouge

A Day in the Lives of Monsieur et Madame Mak Sean


They had her kneeling on the shore facing the water. “I was waiting for the blow” recounted my grandmother of that mid-December day in 1978. 

A few days before, grandma and several other women in the village were ordered to the river to make prohok, as it was prohok season. The morning of that fateful day, one of the women was granted permission to go home later in the day. Grandma stashed away three fish carcasses to send along with the woman to my mother and her siblings. Mom and her brothers could salt and grill them to eat in the morning, all in secret of course. The village official found out and the security force brought grandma to the shoreline. As recounted later by survivors, one method of single killing, if one lived near a river, was to bash the head or slash the throat of the victim and push him/her into the water (bullets were too valuable). Another method was to take the victim to the middle of the river and drown him/her (happened to the daughter of our family’s friends, her father watched quietly from the shore). 

Group Writing: The Road to Perdition


The Road to Perdition was a short one for my family. April 17, 1975, the day after the country finished celebrating a very tense Khmer New Year, Phnom Penh residents were greeted with the sight of black-clad soldiers pouring into the city. My mother remembered having watched, along with her brother, from the balcony as soldiers who were not much older than her then ten-year-old self were welcomed by some city dwellers. 

“They said it’s just three days” recalled my grandmother of the day’s event. “They said we have to leave as the Americans are going to bomb the city.” 

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Gerard and Cara talk with Loung Ung, a human-rights activist; the author of the bestselling books First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, Lucky Child, and Lulu in the Sky; and a co-screenwriter of the 2017 Netflix Original Movie, First They Killed My Father. Ms. Ung shares her experiences living through genocide under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979, which resulted in the deaths of nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s population. Loung talks about the experience of working with Angelina Jolie on the film version of First They Killed My Father, and the role that documentaries like hers and the award-winning 1984 film, The Killing Fields, can play in portraying the human stories behind historic events. They explore Ms. Ung’s life in America, and the support she received from her secondary school teachers in Essex Junction, Vermont, her professors at St. Michael’s College, and from local and religious institutions. The episode concludes with a reading from Loung Ung’s memoir.

Stories of the Week: A new poll shows that nearly a third of parents may continue with remote learning after COVID. According to a new report, only one in six Indiana college students who study education actually join the teaching profession. How can we remove barriers to entry, especially among people of color?

Quote of the Day: Down with the Individual, Down with Private Property


Socialism seems to attract many of our millennials. So let’s go through some Khmer Rouge slogans and sayings to get a sense of what real socialism is. And no, real socialism is not Norway or Sweden, but Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime. A regime that was ruled by the right people: the highly educated, the intellectual elites.

All slogans and sayings are taken from Henri Locard’s book Pol Pot’s Little Red Book: The Sayings of Angkar, which I talked about in one of my previous posts.

And Justice For All


The killers of my maternal grandmother’s cousin are still alive and kicking, living just a walk away from most of grandma’s relatives. On November 16, 2018, 39 years after the Vietnamese forced them out of power, two Khmer Rouge senior leaders, Nuon Chea, aka Brother Number 2, and Khieu Samphan, its head of state, were sentenced to life imprisonment by the UN-backed tribunal for genocide against the Cham and Vietnamese minorities during their reign of terror.

Chea, who is already 92, and Samphan, 87, pleaded not guilty and are already serving life sentences for crimes against humanity from previous verdicts. The new verdict for Nuon Chea also includes crimes committed at S-21, the Khmer Rouge’s notorious prison where more than 20,000 people were tortured and killed; among them were two of my maternal great-uncles.

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I am reading an interesting book, Children of the Killing Field.  It is a series of short memoirs by survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, 1975-1979. In 1975, the Commuunists under Pol Pot, aka the Khmer Rouge, took over the country.  The Khmer Rouge were from the agricultural country regions.  They weere anti-city, anti-education.  The […]

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Assorted Ideas, Opinions, Musings and Other Drivel II: Come and Get Numb


“In the long run we’re all dead.” So said economist John Maynard Keynes. I speak for us all when I say the long run can’t come soon enough. We needn’t go into details. It’s evident humanity is irrevocably screwed-up, civilization was a mistake, and it’s only a matter of time before Hollywood finds your favorite film and remakes, reboots, and prequelizes it. Worst of all is there’s nothing we can do about it. Seppuku never caught on—even the Japanese are too busy fending off demon-possessed schoolgirls to disembowel themselves—and cyanide is too expensive for the poor who deserve death equally as much as the rest of us. Our remaining hope for the world being put out of its misery is if Joe Biden trips and smacks his forehead on the red button which, to be fair, is a distinct possibility.

Until armageddon comes, numb yourself with some of my thoughts. This is a sequel to a post I wrote last year and judging by the film and video game industries, there’s nothing more beloved than sequels. So relax, inject some Cat III directly into your brain for temporary relief from the agony of life.

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It was my wife who introduced me to the Harry Potter series of books. At first, I expressed disinterest: I had too often seen the middling to sub-standard fare which pop culture promotes – and there was an abundance of hype over Harry Potter. Finally, one Christmas, my wife bought me the then complete set […]

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