After the Killing Fields: Lessons from the Cambodian Genocide

Citation: Greewood Publishing Group, 2005

For 25 years, Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge have avoided responsibility for their crimes against humanity. For 30 long years, from the late 1960s to the late 1990s, the Cambodian people suffered from a war that has no name. Etcheson argues that this series of hostilities, which included both civil and external war, amounted to one long conflict, The Thirty Years War, and he demonstrates that there was one “constant, churning presence” that drove that conflict: the Khmer Rouge. New findings demonstrate that the death toll was approximately 2.2 million–about a half million higher than commonly believed. Detailing the struggle to come to terms with what happened in Cambodia, Etcheson concludes that real justice is not merely elusive, but in fact may be impossible, for crimes on the scale of genocide. This book details the work of a unique partnership, Yale University’s Cambodian Genocide Program, which laid the evidentiary basis for the forthcoming Khmer Rouge tribunal and also played a key role in the international advocacy necessary for the tribunal’s creation. It presents the information collected through the Mass Grave Mapping Project of the Documentation Center of Cambodia and reveals that the pattern of killing was relatively uniform throughout the country. Despite regular denial of knowledge of the mass killing among the surviving leadership of the Khmer Rouge, Etcheson demonstrates that they were not only aware of it, but that they personally managed and directed the killing.

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