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Death and Despair,Cambodia, by Billy Swanston. .. Part 2

Many people have puzzled over the underlying causes of the mass criminal hysteria and
murderous actions of the KR. One hypothesis which seems to have some credence is that the KR
were recruited mainly from the poor, illiterate, rural peasantry who had suffered acutely from the
war and particularly from the incessant bombing and the barbaric terrorism practised by all
concerned. They were so affected by the years of madness that their minds had deteriorated into
a murderous insanity. They weren’t the only ones so affected. (I met an American who had been
with Ranger patrols into Cambodia. He claimed that while he secured one end of the roadway or
trail through a small village or hamlet with the help of trained dogs his buddies rounded up and
shot everyone they could find leaving behind evidence, such as AK47 shell casings and other
NVA paraphernalia, that would point to the massacre having been committed by the
These years of savagery were thus seen by these people to be the fault of the intelligentsia of
Cambodia who the Khmer Rouge officers saw as being supporters of the puppet government and
in league with the Americans. They concluded that they caused all of their misfortunes, including
the loss of their traditional rural life, family members, homes and lands. The aristocracy, as
defined by the KR, eventually included anyone who could speak a foreign language, (many
educated Cambodians spoke French), had been to school, wore glasses, had any kind of
profession, read books, etc. To return to their former way of rural, simple, undisturbed village
life and to ensure that there would be an end to foreign intervention once and for all these people
were to be eliminated from society; and eliminated they were. Then, in the view of the KR, the
country would return to a simple agrarian form of lifestyle.
In 1975 the population of Cambodia was about 9 million people. Two to three million of them
were murdered, starved, beaten or worked to death in the rice paddies and infamous killing fields
over the next 4 years of horror; that is about one third of the population. No one with any
education who was not been a member of the KR was spared. The only people who escaped the
madness were those who managed to get out of the country to the refugee camps in Thailand.
Thus, all of the teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, civil administrators, people who could speak
a foreign language, former soldiers of the puppet government, the painters, sculptures, those who
wore eyeglasses and even the Buddhist monks perished. (Some 100.000 monks were murdered,
worked to death or died of malnutrition or disease).
Between l975 and l979 while all of this was going on - it takes years to kill off 2 or 3 million
people no matter how hard you try - the Western world looked on aghast but assumed a non-
intervention stance. No one was about to advocate getting involved again militarily in Indochina.

Foot Note
Billy Swanston passed away in October 2008 at his home in Bangkok

Billy will be missed for his humor, his integrity, and his ablity to 'tell it how it is' not how you would like it to be

Your memories live on Billy - thinking of you

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January 10, 2008

Location: Asia: Cambodia

Topics: Books: Non-Fiction Books: Atrocities

Listed on January 11, 2008 01:06:47 AM

Last updated on April 20, 2014 11:16:56 AM

Submitted by Bill Swanston






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