Thoughts

Happy Victory Over Genocide Day!


On 7 January 1979, the Khmer Rouge fell to the invading Vietnamese forces and the genocide they had perpetrated upon the Cambodian population came to an end. This day is not a national holiday, however; 20 May is their National Day of Remembrance in which they honor those lost to the genocide.

I took the family to visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum here in Phnom Penh. It is the former secret prison where confessions were tortured out of bewildered and frightened Cambodians and then they were shipped off site for execution at the Killing Fields outside of Phnom Penh. That site is now the Choeung Ek Genocide Center.

Tuol Sleng was established in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took the country and forced the residents of Phnom Penh and the other cities into the countryside to work in some crazed misinterpreted fantasy of an agrarian paradise where peasants were idealized and everyone held hands as they ate their heart-shaped cupcakes and rode unicorns over rainbow bridges and sang the Cambodian equivalent of Kumbaya… at least they did in Pol Pot’s head. In reality, they were all working themselves to death.

Of course, there were thousands who tried to escape or otherwise pissed off their guards, so they had to be sent somewhere. There were the thousands of educated Cambodians who were untrustworthy and those who had somehow supported the Lon Nol regime or in some way transgressed the mad hellscape of Khmer Rouge ideology. One of those places was Tuol Sleng or S-21.

It was established on the site of two schools in Phnom Penh. The site sprawled through the area of Phnom Penh to accommodate all the prisoners, administration, and support staff. Nowadays, the museum occupies only the core of what once was. The pressure of the burgeoning population of Phnom Penh having encroached upon the campus.

Here it is estimated that over 18,000 people were detained, tortured, and executed during the four years of Khmer Rouge rule.

As we commemorate the 6 January Insurrection in the US and watch the light of our democracy dwindle and the flame of authoritarianism flare, remember that those who rampaged through the Capitol screaming for the heads of Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi will gladly lock you up in an American equivalent of S-21 to be tortured and executed.

It can happen here and will if we do nothing to prevent it. Once the impediment of laws and courts are removed, MAGA Nation will be out of control to avenge all of the make believe slights, injuries, and wrongs that they have perceived themselves receiving at the hands of Blacks, Browns, Muslims, and liberals.

Join me in wishing Cambodia and the world a happy Victory Over Genocide Day and avow to do everything we can to stop such atrocities from happening again in any of our countries.

7 January, Victory Over Genocide Day in Cambodia

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Image Attribution

Feature

“Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – Phnom Penh, Cambodia” by whl.travel is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Other Photos

These were all taken by me during our visit and as such are unlicensed are free to be used however you see fit.

25 replies »

  1. Depends on your perspective, unless the Ghost Dance really is working.

    I meant to comment on your photos of bicycling through Angor, slipped my mind but was reminded by another photo when reviewing some other traditionally of no connection material: I am always struck by the similarities of the Face in the Gate and what are attributed to be the oldest sculptures of Meso-America. Just looking at the photos, as I have for many years, I am hard-pressed to see the difference.

    Of course the “negroid” features of the Olmec heads blow the white-supremacists notion of survivors of the fall of a great Atlantic civilization right out the window, but they tend to lend credence to accounts I have read of a massive Chinese junk, manned by five hundred sailors and soldiers sailing off into the east to “conquer new lands”. It’s a three-to-five-thousand-year question we never find the answer to.

    Dark days, those were …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Ten!

      One of the fascinating things about living in Cambodia is the diversity of physical features. After living in South Korea, which is so very homogenous, Viet Nam, which is less homogenous, and South China, only somewhat homogenous, I really noticed the amazing diversity of appearance here. Of course, Cambodia is a crossroads. There are few natural barriers to the movement of people other than the Mekong river. For five thousand years, people have travelled through this region leaving their genetics in the pool.

      There is a distinct look to the Han Chinese, especially when contrasted with the peoples living in SouthEast Asian.

      One of the theories about the Olmec heads is that they were based off of African contacts. The distance between Brazil and West Africa is surprisingly small. African and European fisherfolk had been blown into the Americas for years by storms. They didn’t explore so much, but they would repair their ships, do a little trade with the locals, and leave again.

      All of that said. We are just one archeological find away from determining whether a Chinese junk found its way to the Americas. All it would take is to find the remnants of that voyage like they found the Viking settlement in Canada recently.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

    • Happy New Year!

      From what I’m reading about how democracies slide into authoritarianism and civil conflict erupts, few people see it coming. Few are prepared. And, no one thinks that their family, friends, and neighbors will be the ones committing the atrocities… against them. But, it does happen, and it can happen here.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

    • Howdy Bob!

      It was a very sobering visit to the site where so many people were tortured and forced to sign ridiculous confessions. The most effective thing they did was display the pictures of all of the prisoners who went through the facility. Of course, they look just like the people you meet every day.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

        • It was strangely under visited on the day. I thought there would be something of a crowd, but it was just us. Also, because of the decline in tourism and travel with #COVID19 they didn’t have much signage, written explanations, or exhibits going. It was still interesting and moving, but…

          Jon

          Liked by 1 person

            • Oh yes it has. But, Cambodia is doing remarkably well with containing the virus. There are few newly detected infections. Of course, that could be because they have stopped systematically testing the populace. There are few daily deaths, which could be because they are misattributing the deaths to other causes. But, the hospitals aren’t being overrun.

              Everyone still wears masks, but they’ve opened everything back up. They’re even getting a few thousand foreign tourists now.

              Unfortunately, they’re having trouble convincing people to get the booster shot, so we’re likely to see a spike in the near future, especially as omicron takes hold.

              Huzzah!
              Jack

              Liked by 1 person

              • I am struck by what an important variable culture can be in dealing with this virus. It seems that among those countries with more or less adequate resources (including vaccine supplies) the biggest problems with anti-vaccine and masking resistance have been in the US, UK, and Eurozone, and some of Australia. And any place with a significant degree of Confucian tradition has done better in a “we do this for all of us” sort of way.

                Liked by 1 person

                • I think the difference lies in the individualist versus collectivist mindset and the ability of opposition parties to try to use the crisis to their advantage. Many of the collectivist societies are autocracies of one sort or another.

                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • It also seems that the would-be autocrats (Trump, etc.) did the worst of all in responding to the virus crisis.

                    We’ve been doing a lot on the subject of mass psychosis. I suppose it was inevitable that the other side would pick up on that concept and try to turn it to their own purposes, So, this morning, I see this: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/unfounded-new-psychosis-theory-is-being-used-to-dismiss-covid-precautions_n_61d9c56fe4b0bcd2195fd8c1

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I saw that but haven’t had the time to read through it. When I wrote up the mass psychosis stuff, I did note that it was proposed by the psychoanalytic school using observation rather than experimentation. I feel a little defensive on that score. On the other hand, it does fit into what we know about the effects of cortisol on thinking and fits the pattern of the things that other would be authoritarians have done in their rise to power.

                      I think part of the objection is to the application of the concept to the pro-vaxx and mask wearing crowd, though.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I guess there are two issues here: (a) Is mass psychosis a thing as in supported by empirical evidence? And (b) which side, if any, are suffering from it? From what I understand, there is no empirical evidence for mass psychosis, but there is lots of observational and anecdotal evidence for it. Perhaps it is time to produce some, we seem to be living through a massive natural experiment for it.

                      The conservatives now jumping on the mass psychosis bandwagon are using at as a way to continue their hold on their base. As you said, it reinforces the notion that their notion of “reality” is the real reality. It simply maintains the cognitive dissonance for them continue the divisiveness necessary to destroy our democracy.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Assuming, at least for the moment, that the mass psychosis model, both the what it looks like and how it happens, is valid, then virtually the entire human population is one way or another, and to one degree or another, exposed to the risk of it, even without watching Fox “News” (or its local equivalent, usually a state controlled media) 24/7. We all get some degree of bleed through of the manufactured waves of fear and relief, and the rapidly worsening consequence of climate change, the twists and turns of the mutating virus (and, therefore, the policies and advice for dealing with it), and so on. The task is to not get sucked under, if not into psychosis, then into depressed withdrawal from engagement or helpless denial, or some form of lashing out. The reporting on very significant increased incidence of serious mental heal issues in children is getting more frequent, and it is not all attributable to missing school or virtual school. Nobody has mentioned it yet, but when the grownups are stressed out, burnt out, confused, and losing some of their executive functioning, kids know something is bad wrong in their world.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I’m afraid you’re right on multiple counts there: (1) Whether it is mass psychosis or other widespread mental health breakdowns from living under continuous stress there will be little resistance to the policies and actions of an authoritarian government after it takes hold. And (2) children are suffering from more than just not being in school or being prevented from seeing the lower half of someone’s face. I know at home I don’t wear a mask, so La Petite Fille sees my mouth move. I would hope that any parent of an infant and toddler would be doing the same, so I don’t know why anyone accepted that from Kristi Noem. As societal breakdown furthers, children will suffer from living in a less predictable and increasingly brutal world.

                      Huzzah!
                      Jack

                      Liked by 1 person

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