Killing Fields refugees try making sense of senseless murders

By Angelica Jimenez–

Survivors of the Killing Fields genocide met face to face, via teleconference, with perpetrators who committed heinous crimes against fellow Cambodians to learn what would possess them to kill their own people, the Press-Telegram reported.

The massacres that occurred between 1975-1979 in Cambodia under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime are featured in a new documentary “Enemies of the People.”
Two of the regime members who appeared in the film participated in a very tense and painful Q&A session in Long Beach, California.  The film’s co-director, Rob Lemkin, thought the discussions would help survivors and perpetrators heal.

Khouen, one of the perpetrators, gave this justification: “It was not our intent to kill people.  But if we did not kill, we would be killed.”  They said they had no choice but to commit the murders in order to save their own families.

And these perpetrators believed whatever they were told and seemed to accept it.
When asked why they murdered children, one perpetrators responded that they were told, “If you want to kill grass you have to cut it at the root.”

This is reminiscent of testimony of former Nazi officers who also stated they were following orders.  In March a Dutch court sentenced Nazi officer Heinrich Boere, 88, to life in prison for the murder of civilians.  His response, like that of the Khmer Regime soldiers, was, “As a simple soldier, I learned to carry out orders.  And I knew that if I didn’t carry out my orders I would be breaking my oath and would be shot myself.”

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