Why are Cambodians so nice

The Khmer Rouge wore glasses themselves.


Her glasses are on the table. At that time it would have been your death sentence.
My father hid his glasses out of fear. He was a high official in the Ministry of Education and always wore a suit and tie. One day he buried his ties in the forest, and with them his life. The Khmer Rouge wore glasses themselves. You see it on archive pictures and you think, why is this a crime for us and not for them?


The absurd logic of terror.
How can glasses say something about classes? The poor can see badly too. You don't wear glasses and you automatically speak ten languages. You are not rich if you have a pen. By the way, the ballpoint pen was a symbol of the Khmer Rouge. They all had one, two, three pens in their breast pockets, even Pol Pot. The more you had, the higher you stood. If, on the other hand, we had had a ballpoint pen, it would have said: These are intellectuals who can write. I don't understand.


When you go to Cambodia, you notice how beautiful the country is, how impressive the culture, the temples of Angkor.
And the people are so nice, peaceful and helpful. This people was capable of a massacre? I don't feel like understanding everything. It has to be said that these things happened and how.


We are based in the Hamburg publishing house that published your autobiography "Auslöschung". How is it for you to be in Germany?
I've always been interested in Germany, our countries are two countries with tragedies. I was in Nuremberg, that touched me, I knew all the pictures of the National Socialists' marches and the films of the Nuremberg trials. I think the Holocaust memorial in Berlin is very successful in its clarity and presence in the city.


Is there no such memorial in Cambodia?
The problem is, how do you preserve memory? With a museum, a memorial? I don't like museums where you have to buy tickets, like the former torture prison S-21 in Phnom Penh. Choeung Ek, one of the so-called killing fields where people were slain by the thousands, is a little better prepared. It takes artists who think about something, an educational concept, places of reflection. At the moment you only see prison cells, documents, skulls. The tourists run by saying, Oh, what a horror, and then they have a beer and head to the river.


Chum Manh, one of seven survivors from S-21, comes every day to the place where he should have been murdered. Because he has nothing else.
Nobody cares about the victims in Cambodia, everyone cares about the executioners. I always say: You spend so much money on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, why not give the man a small scholarship so that he can write down his story, talk to school classes and the guides who just tell nonsense. But nobody does anything. There was another survivor, a painter. He was sick and needed dialysis. It was expensive, nobody paid for it, and that's how he died.

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