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Enemies of the People

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Learn More About International Justice and Human Rights

In Enemies of the People, Thet Sambath interviews former Khmer Rouge officials in order to uncover the truth behind the Cambodian "killing fields." Learn more about human rights organizations, reconciliation groups, and international crime tribunals.
  • Identify local organizations or local chapters of national organizations working to preserve human rights (and/or facilitate reconciliation efforts) and find out how you can help.

  • Initiate an oral history project in your own community that focuses on identifying people who lived through injustices or atrocities and create safe spaces (either virtual or physical) in which they can tell and preserve their stories. Consider arranging for the stories to be presented in classrooms, religious organizations, libraries, youth programs and/or online.

  • Invite a panel of journalists to talk about the role of reporters in a democracy, the risks they take and what they think of Sambath's work to uncover Cambodian history.

  • Convene a study group on Cambodian history and culture. Use what you learn to examine U.S. foreign policy towards Cambodia and share your insights with your elected representatives, as well as with people in your community.

  • Stay informed about ongoing tribunals regarding past crimes against humanity, genocide and other human rights atrocities.

Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.

Discussion Guide

Discussion Guide

Thet Sambath, an unassuming, yet cunning, investigative journalist, lost his family in the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge regime. Sambath spent a decade gaining the trust of the men and women who perpetrated the massacres. Enemies of the People documents the fruits of his labor. Through astounding interviews with foot soldiers who slit throats, and even with Pol Pot's right-hand man, the notorious Brother Number Two, hidden aspects of genocide are slowly revealed. Artful cinematography amplifies the shocking testimony as viewers see peaceful present-day landscapes that belie the terrors buried beneath their surfaces. As an outreach tool, Enemies of the People is a thought-provoking examination of the human capacity for atrocity, survival and healing.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will hear and anazlyze the points of view of people from various ranks of the Khmer Rouge who participated in the killing of nearly 2 million Cambodians during Pol Pot’s regime, which lasted from 1975 to 1979.

Reading List

Delve Deeper

This resource list, compiled by Paul A. Bareño of the San Diego Public Library, includes books, films and other materials related to the issues presented in the film Enemies of the People. Learn more about the Khmer Rouge regime and Cambodian history.

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Some may say no good can come from talking to killers and dwelling on past horror, but I say these people have sacrificed a lot to tell the truth. In daring to confess, they have done good, perhaps the only good thing left.”

— Thet Sambath, Director/Producer

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