Coming to Terms with the Past: Cambodia

Ben Kiernan points out the progress, and difficulties, in recovering history and justice after genocide.

Half a millennium of civil conflict, foreign invasions, and even genocide not only devastated Cambodia, but also prevented the Khmer people from weighing their experiences in historical perspective. Hindu, Buddhist, royalist, republican, colonial and communist regimes came and went. Five relocations of the Khmer capital preceded the three foreign occupations and seven regime changes of the past sixty years alone. Officials abandoned archives, rulers erased rivals from the record, international leaders denied Cambodia’s history or blocked its documentation. Yet recent events offer some hope of an accounting for the Khmer Rouge genocide of 1975-79.

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