For the last three decades, Cambodia has been consumed by warfare, genocide, slave labor, forced marches, hunger, disease, as well as civil conflict. Approximately the size of Missouri, surrounded by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, Cambodia had a population of possibly 7 to 8 million in 1975 when the ominous Khmer Rouge guerrillas swept into Phnom Penh and began what they called the purification campaign which was "the centerpiece of their extremist agrarian revolution." Four years later, the Khmer Rouge was pushed back into the jungle, leaving behind their legacy: 1.5 to 2 million Cambodians dead in what would become known to the world as "the Killing Fields." Twenty percent of the population wipe out. In America that would be 50 to 60 million people.
Most people say that in regards to what occurred in Cambodia cannot be called a genocide because basically, it was Khmers killing other Khmers, not someone trying to destroy a different "national, racial, ethnical or religious group" which is how global law defines genocide.
To make such distinctions, however, is sometimes to relinquish common sense. After all, the Khmer Rouge set out to wipe out an entire culture, which was Cambodia's religion, Theravada Buddhism. And this may help explain why, over the years, the law has proved so poor a guide to the reality of human slaughter. For, whether you call the mass killing in Cambodia a genocide or simply a crime against humanity, it was the same by either name. It was a vindication of evil.
One might rationally pick Cambodia as a example for the law's weakness in dealing with such crimes. International law, after all depends for its accuracy on the willingness of the world's Nation-States to abide by and enforce it. In Cambodia's case most Nation-States expressed shock and horror and did nothing. Still after the Vietnamese Army pushed the Khmer Rouge out of power in 1979, ended the genocide, were welcomed as liberators, and installed a pro-Hanoi government in...
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