Monday, February 11, 2008

Cambodia in the '80s

The Panel members: LtoR: Pen Samitthy, Chanthou Boua, Youk Chhang, Tom Fawthrop
Cambodia in the 1980s is a largely forgotten or ignored period in recent Cambodian history. There's very little written about that era when Cambodia was effectively shunned by the western world and embargoes left the country in dire need of just about everything, from food to medicines to trade and recognition. Cold-war politics left Cambodia well and truly out in the cold. The specific period was the subject of a series of presentations and Q&A's at tonight's Meta House & Konrad Adenauer Foundation's The Legacy of the Khmer Rouge Forum at one of the Pannasastra annexes. Under the stewardship of journalist and writer Tom Fawthrop, the panel kicked off with Pen Samitthy, editor of the Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper, recounting his experiences that included the retribution taken against former Khmer Rouge cadre whilst the ideology remained largely unchanged as Cambodia struggled to get back to a semblance of normalcy. Youk Chhang, director of DC-Cam, talked about the work of his independent body and focused on how the Renakse petition from the '80s could be a voice in the existing KR Tribunal, whilst Chanthou Boua related her own experiences on visits to Cambodia in that period and talked of the effects on the embargoes. The event was well-attended and organised, big-name attendees included Helen Jarvis, Sara Colm and the German Ambassador as well as a sprinkling of Khmers. Don't forget, these forums are on every Monday til 10 March.

Youk Chhang in an animated moment during his presentation

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