Frontline World

Cambodia - Pol Pot's Shadow, October, 2002

Synopsis of "Pol Pot's Shadow"

In Search of Justice

Historical Analysis: The U.S. and Cambodia

The Rapper, the Dancer, and the Storyteller

Learn more about Cambodia

Genocide, War Crimes, Politics




Links and Resources
General Background
Cambodian Genocide
Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot
Hun Sen and Current Politics
Human Rights and the Search for Justice
Media Resources

General Background

Beauty and Darkness: The Odyssey of the Khmer People
This comprehensive Web site by independent writers provides visitors with an overview of Cambodian culture and recent history. There's information on the Khmer diaspora, a photo gallery and an unforgettable "Oral Histories" section.

Cambodian Information Center
The Cambodian Information Center site is aimed mostly at Cambodians abroad, with links to Khmer Web pages, chat, and Cambodian social organizations, along with downloadable Khmer fonts. It provides a good basic history section and an extensive bibliography of recent books about Cambodia.

The Khmer Institute
This nonprofit community organization based in Los Angeles says its goal is to offer Cambodian Americans the "opportunity to move from merely being objects of study to active, vocal, articulate participants." The site includes policy papers of interest to immigrants and refugees.

Country Profile: Cambodia
This article offers a general introduction to Cambodia's people, politics and media, with links to independent Cambodian newspapers and radio stations. (BBC News, Feb. 26, 2002)

Cambodia: A Country Study
The Library of Congress prepared this detailed synopsis of Cambodian history from the 1400s to the present. The site features sections on Cambodia's ethnic groups, its economy and Buddhism.

Vietnam: A Television History -- Cambodia and Laos
America's involvement in Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s was part of its larger military and diplomatic strategy to rid Southeast Asia of communism. This transcript explores the U.S. role in Cambodia and its neighbor, Laos, and includes interviews with Norodom Sihanouk, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon. (American Experience, PBS)

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Cambodian Genocide

The difficulty of defining genocide remains not just a legal but a political problem, as countries struggle in different ways to come to terms with murder, responsibility and reconciliation. Click here to learn more about Genocide in the 20th Century.

Cambodian Genocide Program
In 1994, Yale University's Cambodian Genocide Program (CGP) received funding from the U.S. State Department under the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act. The CGP provides online genocide databases divided into four sections: photographic, geographic, bibliographic and biographical information. An interactive computerized map is available, with "Provincial Killing Fields Maps" marking the locations of mass grave pits, Khmer Rouge prisons and memorials to genocide victims.

Documentation Center of Cambodia
This Phnom Penh-based center is an independent research facility that compiles legal documentation for those who "seek accountability for the crimes of the Khmer Rouge." The Web site contains a wealth of information dealing with reconciliation and justice in Cambodia.

Cambodia Genocide: Memories From Tuol Sleng Prison
In 1976, the Khmer Rouge turned a high school in Phnom Penh into a prison where 14,000 men, women and children were tortured, interrogated and killed. The Khmer Rouge kept meticulous records of the inmates and their interrogations. The prison has been preserved as the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide, filled with haunting photos of victims taken just moments before their executions.

Who Was Who in the Khmer Rouge: Beyond Pol Pot and Ta Mok
Pol Pot, "Brother Number One," died in 1998 in Cambodia of natural causes. Behind him lay a network of Khmer Rouge generals and subordinates who executed his orders and perpetrated the mass genocide of nearly 2 million Cambodians. This site lists the names of the Khmer Rouge's inner circle, including "Pol Pot's Shadow," Brother Number Two, Nuon Chea.

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Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot

Pol Pot's Legacy
In this presentation, journalists Sydney Schanberg and Nate Thayer discuss the continuing influence of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot shortly before his death. "While Pol Pot, himself, is obviously a mythical figure," concludes Thayer, "[he] did not do what he did by himself." (PBS NewsHour, June 18, 1997)

Pol Pot Remembered
Elizabeth Becker was one of the first Western journalists to interview the reclusive Khmer Rouge leader while he was in power. Shortly after his death, she recounts her chilling 1978 meeting with him. (BBC News, April 28, 1998)

Death of a Dictator
On this site, Sydney Schanberg and Tuck Outhuok from Voice of America discuss the life and legacy of Pol Pot. Outhouk, who remembers Pol Pot as a high school teacher, concludes, "Most Cambodians feel that it's not good enough that Pol Pot's dead; they wanted to see Pol Pot brought to trial." (PBS NewsHour, April 16, 1998)

Masters of the Killing Fields
By the late 1990s, the Khmer Rouge army continued to fight on, despite being on the verge of collapse. This article explains why the guerrillas' impact on Cambodian politics will be felt for a long time to come. (BBC News, July 24, 1998)

Cambodia's Chief Executioner Charged
In the 1970s, Kang Kek Ieu, also known as "Duch," was the head of Tuol Sleng prison, where 12,000 people were tortured and executed by the Khmer Rouge. In 1999, he and Ta Mok, the former military head of the Khmer Rouge, were arrested. To date, they are the only former Khmer Rouge leaders to be charged with genocide. (BBC News, May 14, 1999)

Brother Number Two Enjoys Retirement
A BBC correspondent recently met with Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's second in command, and found him living freely in good spirits. "Good humor is in my nature," Chea boasts. "I have no worries." (BBC News, March 15, 2002)

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Hun Sen and Current Politics

Prodigy's Progress: From Revolution to Realpolitik
This timeline tracks the long political career of Cambodian premier Hun Sen, from his early days as a Khmer Rouge soldier to his current position as one of his country's most powerful men. (Asiaweek, Sept.r 27, 1996)

This New Government Will Last
In an extensive interview, Hun Sen advocates trials for Khmer Rouge leaders. But he warns against looking too broadly for culprits, saying that such an investigation might come back to haunt American politicians. (Asiaweek, Dec. 11, 1998)

Conversation on Cambodia
Henry Kamm, author of Cambodia: Report From a Stricken Land, talks about recent political developments in the country and his skepticism about its current leadership. (PBS NewsHour, Dec. 29, 1998)

Hun Sen's Biographers Paint Complex Picture of Cambodian Strongman
Even after more than 20 years on Cambodia's political scene, relatively little is known about the life of Hun Sen. A recent biography tries to find out what makes Cambodia's self-described "strongman" tick. (Agence France-Presse, Oct. 28, 1999)

The Boss's Whims
Since he became Cambodia's sole prime minister in 1998, Hun Sen has assumed "regal powers," according to this analysis. And after nearly two decades in power, he seems to have no plans to let go of the reins of control. (The Economist,; May 2, 2002)

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Human Rights and the Search for Justice

Impunity in Cambodia: How Human Rights Offenders Escape Justice
This report details how Cambodia's lingering "culture of impunity" facilitates organized crime and human rights abuses. Solving the problem won't be easy: Weapons are readily available and an unreliable judiciary fails to go after the worst offenders. (Human Rights Watch, June 1999)

United States Demands "Killing Fields" Trial
After Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Sampan met with Hun Sen in 1998, the United States said it wished to see them brought to trial. "As leaders of the regime responsible for the deaths of up to 2 million people, they should be held accountable for their actions before an appropriate tribunal," said a State Department spokesman. (BBC News, Dec. 29, 1998)

Hun Sen: Khmer Rouge Trial Is Up to Courts
After meeting publicly with Nuon Chea and Khieu Sampan, Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen denied offering the Khmer Rouge leaders amnesty. Reacting to criticism, he repeated his call for a genocide tribunal. (BBC News, Jan. 1, 1999)

United States Should Stand Firm on International Standards in Khmer Rouge Trials
As Cambodia and the United Nations struggle to hammer out the shape of proposed genocide tribunals, some observers have criticized Cambodia for not following internationally accepted guidelines for such trials. Human Rights Watch has advocated rules that would ensure the tribunals' fairness and impartiality. (Human Rights Watch, Oct. 22, 1999)

Human Rights Agenda for Cambodia's Donors
As Cambodia slowly reforms its legal system and improves its human rights record, millions of dollars of aid has flowed in from abroad. International donors might restrict these funds to encourage Cambodia to speed the pace of reform, argues Human Rights Watch. (Human Rights Watch, May 23, 2000)

Can the Cycle of Violence Be Ended?
Would a Khmer Rouge tribunal bring peace and stability to Cambodia? This article looks at the links between Cambodia's lawless past and its struggle to get back on its feet. (Asiaweek, July 20, 2001)

Cambodia Rejects United Nations Tribunal Demands
In February 2002, Cambodian negotiators pulled out of talks with the United Nations over how to set up genocide tribunals. Among other things, the two sides disagreed over how many Khmer Rouge leaders should be brought to trial. Six months later, Cambodia announced it would resume negotiations. (BBC News, Feb. 13, 2002)

Evil Happens
Dith Pran, who inspired The Killing Fields, continues to speak out about the Cambodian genocide and the need to bring its perpetrators to justice. Earlier this year, he spoke at Princeton University about the lessons he'd learned from his experience. (Princeton Packet, April 26, 2002)

Cambodia's Friends Should Get Tough
Cambodia was the first Southeast Asia country to endorse the International Criminal Court. But it still has a long way to go to protect human rights at home, say human rights advocates, and international donors should keep the pressure on Cambodia to improve. (Human Rights Watch, June 19, 2002)

Country Library -- Cambodia
Amnesty International monitors human rights issues inside Cambodia, from refugee resettlement to genocide tribunals. This site links to some of the organization's recent reports and statements.

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Cambodian Traditional Dance
This site, produced by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the Asia Society, celebrates Cambodia's ancient dance tradition as "a primary medium of prayer and prophecy." A tour of dances, with music, features gorgeous images and links to academic articles on Cambodian culture.

Ancient Cambodian Sculpture
The National Gallery of Art based this site on its 1997 Sculpture of Angkor and Ancient Cambodia exhibit. Comprising 100 works of sculpture on loan from the National Museum of Cambodia and the Musee National des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet, the exhibit covered 500 years of Cambodian art and history, tracing the influence of Indian religious and artistic traditions upon Khmer society.

Cambodian Master Performers Program
There was no place in the agrarian utopian vision of the Khmer Rouge for artists and musicians, most of whom succumbed to starvation or exhaustion or were targeted for execution by the Khmer Rouge. One survivor, Cambodian American Arn Chorn-Pond, has sought out other surviving, classically-trained Cambodian musicians to record and preserve their unique talents and, through an apprenticeship program, to ensure that their skills live on in a new generation of master performers.

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Media Resources

Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia's English-language paper offers news and features on its site, as well as a searchable directory of organizations, businesses and individuals in Cambodia.

Cambodia Post's Cambodia Post is a daily online publication featuring wire service and newspaper stories about Cambodia. The site also provides background information about the nation's history and the current state of its economy and government.

Radio and Television 3
This Cambodian Web site provides a television and radio guide for broadcasts to Phnom Penh and outlying provinces, in idiosyncratic English. The "Game Show" page describes programs targeted to "Cambodian Teenager," and promises that "Every show there are different ideas and concepts that could not make public bored."

Cambodian American Radio Network
This radio network broadcasts news stories, music and commentaries in the Khmer. The top hits of Cambodia are available in streaming audio.

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