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As Khmer Rouge prison commander dies, media quiet on UK & US’ roles in aiding regime responsible for Cambodian genocide

George Galloway
George Galloway

was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator. Follow him on Twitter @georgegalloway

was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator. Follow him on Twitter @georgegalloway

As Khmer Rouge prison commander dies, media quiet on UK & US’ roles in aiding regime responsible for Cambodian genocide
The demise of ‘Comrade Duch’, the Khmer Rouge mass murderer and torturer in a Cambodian hospital at the age of 77, was a peaceful end not given to the thousands of his victims back in the days of Year Zero.

The ‘Comrade’, Kaing Guek Eav, was chief jailer at the dastardly Phnom Penh prison Tuol Sleng and personally oversaw the torture and murder of men and women in uncountable numbers.

The Khmer Rouge regime buried millions in their ‘killing fields’, although the victims were often forced to dig their own graves. They were usually bludgeoned to death to save bullets. The Cambodian genocide lasted more than two years, from 1975 to 1979, killing up to two million people – about a quarter of Cambodia’s population.

Soon after the Vietnamese invasion, which started on Christmas Day 1978 , the regime was routed and Pol Pot fled into exile in Thailand.

Not one of the obituaries of Comrade Duch included the salient fact that Britain and the United States continued to recognise the Khmer Rouge Murder Inc long after they had been driven from power by Vietnamese backed fighters. For the British and the US the enemy of their enemy was their friend, even if he was a genocidal maniac. Anti-Soviet and anti-Vietnamese hatred trumped the tillers of the killing fields any day.

Mrs Thatcher and Ronald Reagan insisted on Pol Pot's ‘Ambassador’ keeping his seat at the United Nations, and actually sanctioned the Vietnamese-backed government then in charge of the country and piling up the bones in museums for the world to see what the country had been put through. 

Liberated Cambodia was subjected to sanctions while the Khmer Rouge in exile were secretly given millions of dollars by the US government – aid which lasted almost a decade after they had been overthrown. The CIA allegedly provided war materiel, money, weapons and satellite intelligence throughout those years, and discredited Western charities by forcing them to provide food to the mass murderers.

Janes Defence Weekly and then the Daily Telegraph revealed as late as 1989 – more than a decade after the world KNEW about the killing fields, Britain's SAS was STILL helping to train Pol Pot's jungle army in exile. Indeed, following the Iran-Contra scandal which broke in 1986, the Khmer Rouge operation became a British-only affair – even the Reagan administration could not bear the further shame of arming and training ‘the comrades’. Not that Mrs Thatcher wasn't ashamed – her government lied to parliament in denying this assistance to the Khmer Rouge – before admitting in 1991 that they had been doing so since 1983. But when the assistance finally ended the enmity continued.

Also on rt.com We bombed it, we own it: US wants China to take its hands off Cambodia

I was the head of the British parliamentary observer group sent to Cambodia to monitor Hun Sen's first multi-party election almost 30 years ago. The international observers and the diplomats sent to service us seemed to me to have only one purpose – the discrediting of the winner Hun Sen, then the world's youngest serving prime minister, and the fomenting of further isolation of Cambodia. 

I spent much of every long day in-country seeking to discredit the discreditors whose conduct ranged from the dubious to the downright discreditable. Far from “observing” most of the international observers were actors with an agenda. Only Mr Chatterjee, then the chief official of the Indian parliament who was by my side at all times, was genuinely an impartial observer. I still recall the venom with which his verdict of “free and fair” was greeted by my Western parliamentary colleagues.

This whole almost unbelievable episode has been largely buried in the unmarked grave of inconvenience. Along with Comrade Duch. But like the Cambodian elephant, some of us have long memories...

America’s secret and illegal bombing of Cambodia had of course propelled the Khmer Rouge to power in the first place.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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