Saturday, March 4, 2017

Week 9 Group Blog Post

Life in Cambodia especially when it came to the Khmer Rogue when the country was going through a political and economical travesty. The Khmer rogue prevented anyone to have a an education, be part of a religion, and got rid of currency. Between 1980 and 1985 over 510,000 fled to Vietnam to seek help and 150,000 came to United States as refugees. During this time many teachers in Cambodia and many musicians and dancers in the Khmer court had been killed. Throughout this book War, Genocide, and Justice, we are made to understand that through the guidance of survivors, they helped understand and represent the genocide. However speaking of the killing fields and the genocide was  a difficult task, many survivors suffered from amnesia, or their minds suppressed the memories. During the Khmer Rogue, Cambodians at the time living in Cambodia would be part of mast genoicides and killings everyday, therefore they would have to move across the lands and be put into different camps where these events would take place. this is when Cambodians had to flee to somewhere safe.
To show how much these genocides effected the matter on January 7, 2009 50,000 Cambodians packed into a stadium to celebrate the defeat of the Khmer Rouge by the Vietnamese. This is was known as its was stated in the book as “Victory over Genocide day (or Nation Day)(4).” The problem with this celebration is that many people have a hard time believing the history as the memories of many Cambodians have been so altered from the truth that some stories may not always seem to be truthful. As a result of all the killings and those who survived through refugee camps in other countries 1.7 million Cambodians died, however 5 million did survive.
In April 1975, the Khmer Rouge (followers of the communist ideology) established the Tuol Sleng Prison in the Chao Ponhea Yat High School also know a S-21 in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge “killed nearly two million Cambodians from 1975 to 1979.” (Fletcher) But in this particular prison “of the approximately 12,000 to 14,000 detainees at Security Prison 21 less than 20 survived their imprisonment”. (Schlund-Vials 29) So how did the Khmer Rouge come into power, well this party or group emerged from the oppression of the French colonization. The Cambodian communist movement emerged from the country’s struggle against French colonization 1940s, and was influenced by the Vietnamese. Fueled by the first Indochina War in the 1950s, and during the next 20 years, the movement took roots and began to grow. In March 1970, the country's monarchy was overthrown by US-backed Field Marshal Lon Nol, setting up a long-armed struggle against the forces of the Khmer Rouge. “By early 1973, despite a massive bombing campaign undertaken by the Cambodian government with aid from the United States, the Khmer Rouge forces controlled about 85 per cent of the country's territory. In 1975, the capital Phnom Penh fell to Khmer Rouge forces.” (Al Jazeera) Basically it was a civil war between two sides one that was backed up the communist ideology while the other was backed by the United States. So, in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge won the civil war in Cambodia and installed their own government Democratic Kampuchea. It became a ruthless and violent party the committed genocide for four years upon anyone they believed to be sympatric towards the previous regime. Ironically the Cambodian civil war that preceded the genocide occurred roughly at the same time as the Western superpowers were fighting the Vietnam war. During this period, the United States not only financially backed the side that ultimately lost the civil war, General Lon Nol’s dictatorial regime, but also severely bombed the border of Cambodia killing approximately 750,000 Cambodians in the effort to destroy the North Vietnamese. These factors led to a high anti-American sentiment in the country, with many Cambodians joining resistance forces against General Lon Nol purely as an anti-American protest. The fact a Communist revolution then ensued, naturally meant that the West assumed Cambodia had fallen under the Soviet’s influence in line with Vietnam.
In Chapter 1 Atrocity Tourism, which highlights that the Vietnamese occupying army (1979-89) transformed and curated sites like Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and Ek Center for Genocide Crimes for legitimizing Vietnamese military presence in the emerging People’s Republic of Kampuchea, these iconic places essentially replicate a narrative of Vietnamese liberation rather than providing meaningful spaces for collective remembrance and reconciliation on Cambodian relationships. Such sites are additionally problematic because they emphasize that the culprits’ killings at the expense of the victims, whose skeletal remains are displayed indefinitely as criminal evidence and deprived of proper and culturally sensitive burials. As these sites become well-known for international atrocity tourism destinations, they perpetuate and commodify the victims’ miseries.
In this reading it details on how “of the approximately 12,000 to 14,000 detainees at Security Prison 21 less than 20 survived their imprisonment”. (Schlund-Vials 29) This prison was used as a killing machine. To commit such horrific crimes one can only imagine that hundreds of detainees must have been taken executed on a regular basis.  This didn’t happen a long time ago but very recently in the 2nd half of the 20th century after world war II. Ironically after the Jewish genocide by the Nazi, the international community didn’t intervene then nor did it in the case of Cambodia. They just let it happen and act like they didn’t know what was going on in the world.  The Cambodian genocide took place within a generation of World War Two, yet the aftermath had not been enough to halt such a similar episode from occurring, and as a result the West plainly wanted to refuse its existence. Or was this simply a matter of geopolitics triumphing over the individual; that such a small country was worth been taken as ‘collateral damage’ in the much larger fight against Communism. Whatever the actual reasoning behind the West’s handling of the Cambodian genocide, it can ultimately be seen that the moral issues that arose from the event are still being applied to the world today, and their constant need indicates that this period of time should never be forgotten took an additional 30 years until anyone would be accused or held accountable for such horrific acts.  “twenty-years would pass until the prisons head warden was identified, arrested, and placed in Cambodian custody. Furthermore, thirty-one years would elapse before Kaing Guek Eav-the first Khmer Rouge official to face the UN/Cambodian war crimes.” (Schlund-Vials 30)
Today Tuol Sleng Prison has become a museum which chronicles the Cambodian genocide it is a “reminder not only of Cambodians recent history, but of the inhumanity that sometimes overwhelms ordinary human beings”. (Schlund-Vials 34)  the site was constructed to a museum for the purpose to inform the world of the evil that occurred there. A timeline of how it went from a high school for students to a prison/torture center and into a genocide museum. Although some people may find it offensive that the same place where many innocent people were executed is being used as a visitors center. I personally feel that it is a good idea to construct a museum in the same place where it actually occurred rather than constructing a new building far away from the actual place. I think that by showing the history where it actually happened it will bring the history to life, and allow the visitors to sense and feel in their mind what actually happened there. One may be able to look at the floor or walls, looking at the paint of the same time that might have not been re-painted but left the original way and imagine how people may have been executed there. In particular the Tuol Sleng genocide museum doesn’t look like a genocide site of the German concentration camps, but is rather a 3 story typical administrative building. With a courtyard. Looking from the outside one can’t easily imagine that this was a place where such horrific crimes occurred. For example, Angkor Wat apparent "tribute to Khmer civilization" has been described by many Cambodian-Americans as a site of "dark tourism" whereby depictions of disasters are strongly emphasized. What strikes the author is the commodification of the tragedies to upkeep the heavy tourism in Cambodia--which is paradoxically beneficial for it provides business for vendors and tour guides. For this reason, the author looks at the heavy influence of the U.S. on how the Cambodian nation wants to paint the histories of the Khmer era. Suddenly, there is a need to consider U.S. reception.
In fact, praChp’s hip hop with Cambodian American knowledge greatly resonated with those of minorities in the U.S. who live in the unjust stagnations of "ghettos" or ethnic enclaves. His material is based on genocide, civil rights, and human rights, which corresponds with “heterotopias”, Michel Foucault’s working definition, meaning “found within [a] culture (Schlund-Vials 164).” Dalama: The Lost Chapter consist of exploration of the past, present, and future, along with intergenerational of memory work and contemporary contradictions of Cambodian American selfhood. It includes cinematic samples, political speeches and oral histories that bring in Cambodia's Killing Fields history, the Ly’s collected experiences of life under the Khmer Rouge, and the rapper’s evolving Cambodian American consciousness. Lyrics from The Lost Chapter tells a collected story of Cambodian American survival and conflict. Lastly, it reference the present days that includes September 11 attacks and the USA PATRIOT ACT. The Lost Chapter is remixes of the genocide narrative that connects cultural facts (past Khmer traditions) to cultural truths (reparative meaning) (Schlund-Vials 167). Dalama: Memoirs of an Invisible War is praCh’s “most explicitly political production” to date which consist of critique of past and present U.S. exceptionalism and Cambodian statecraft (Schlund-Vials 174). This Dalam focused more on the present and future involving issues of cultural obliteration, migration, and identity in Cambodia and the United States, as compared to the first two albums that focused on the killing fields and his past. He stressed that hip-hop is “not just talking into the mic, it’s talking to the world” (Schlund-Vials 176). Overall, praCh’s Dalama trilogy depicts Cambodian American memory work that ties to genocide history, refugee struggle, and survivor witnessing. praCh’s wants justice for those who have been murdered and for others to not bury the past, especially those who died injusticely.
Ali’s “Visiting Loss” includes genocide remembrance, collected memory, and juridical activism (Schlund-Vials 181). The poem consisted of “givens” and “provens” which assumes an immediate evidentiary register, which prove familial experiences and absence of 2 million people. In addition, Ali assert that she “will return to a country [she has] never known” and discussed in further details of different stanzas in her poem. Ali was featured in “Palimpsest for Generation 1.5” on December 11, 2009, dressed in an unadorned white dress, with her face turned to a wall, having her back exposed with inscriptions written on her bare back such as, “I WITNESS HER LAST BREATH.” These inscriptions are family’s memories and histories that relate back to Cambodia.

Al Jazeera. "Key Facts on the Khmer Rouge." Al Jazeera. N.p., 03 Feb. 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
Fletcher, Dan. "A Brief History Of The Khmer Rouge." Time. N.p., 17 Feb. 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.  
Schlund-Vials, Cathy Jean. War, Genocide, and Justice Cambodian American Memory Work. Minneapolis, MN: U of Minnesota, 2012. Print.
War, Genocide, and Justice: Cambodian American Memory Work. 2012

Prabhjit Mann
Matthew Mandel
Harry Manacsa

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