In a sad chapter in the history of genocide across the world, former Cambodian leader Kheiu Samphan called Saloth Sar, better known as Pol Pot, who oversaw the death of 3 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979—one-third of the population—a ‘patriot’ and ‘staunch defender of sovereignty’ of the country, in a new book recently published.
Let it be known again, sovereignty is no defense for murder. We have seen the excuse used throughout and throughout, from Bathist Iraq, Holocaust Germany, Apartheid Africa and Genocide Rwanda, and many others.
It is a crime in the utmost sense of the word, and all should know that the truth to what Samphan is empty. It does not exist. Sovereignty is surrendered at the drop of innocent, sovereign blood of your people, and Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge lost just that.
They have grossly misunderstood the value of that word.
Sovereignty is not something owned by a few, it is something owned by the people. Sovereignty is not the substance of bullets, it’s the substance of ballots and sovereignty is the substance of an independent mind not to be contorted to Kheiu Samphan’s ideas of ‘sovereignty.’ Anyone able to read this article now would have been murdered, for this very reason, during the Khmer Rouge, where roughly three million died from disease, malnutrition, and murder, including anglophone and francophone speakers, intellectuals, and middle class who were point-black murdered.
Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, has its own genocide memorial. It is housed in an old high school that, during the Khmer Rouge regime, was used as a central prison and torture chamber. Upon entrance, prisoners were told to strip, give detailed accounts of their entire lives, and then sit in mass cells and not speak a word to each other. Not only were lives lost, the Khmer Rouge destroyed a person’s soul. They destroyed who you were, and who you had been. You were gone.
That is not sovereignty. That is the blood of not simply hatred, but the lust and disease of personal power. It is the opposite of sovereignty because it the opposite of compassion and compatriotism. It is the sad thing this world has never learned to fully stop, and it is disappointing enough that someone such as Samphan, who himself may soon be up on genocide charges, are even allowed to be publishing and selling books under the most discrete of titles such as “Reflection on Cambodian History Up to the Era of Democratic Kampuchea.”
We should know hate-speech when we see it. The whole world should.