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After the Killing Fields: Lessons from the Cambodian Genocide [Hardcover]

Craig Carlyle Etcheson

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Book Description

30 Mar 2005
For 25 years, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge have avoided responsibility for their crimes against humanity. For 30 long years, from the late 1960s to the late 1990s, the Cambodian people suffered from a war that has no name. Arguing that this series of hostilities, which included both civil and external war, amounted to one long conflict-The Thirty Years War-Craig Etcheson demonstrates that there was one constant, churning presence that drove that conflict: the Khmer Rouge. New findings demonstrate that the death toll was approximately 2.2 million people-about half a million more than commonly believed. Detailing the struggle of coming to terms with what happened in Cambodia, Etcheson concludes that real justice is not merely elusive but may, in fact, be impossible for crimes on the scale of genocide. This book details the work of a unique partnership, Yale University's Cambodian Genocide Program, which laid the evidentiary basis for the forthcoming Khmer Rouge tribunal and also played a key role in the international advocacy necessary for the tribunal's creation. It presents the information collected through the Mass Grave Mapping Project of the Documentation Center of Cambodia and reveals that the pattern of killing was relatively uniform throughout the country. Despite regular denial of knowledge of the mass killing among the surviving leadership of the Khmer Rouge, Etcheson demonstrates that they were not only aware of it, but that they personally managed and directed the killing.

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"After the Killing Fields is a thorough description of the step-by-step accumulation of evidence of Khmer Rouge crimes." - Times Literary Supplement "More than 25 years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, those responsible for genocide and human rights violations in Cambodia have yet to answer for their crimes. Why has justice for the Cambodian people been so elusive? Etcheson argues that a culture of impunity persists in Cambodia, and that national reconciliation and healing will require a properly conducted war crimes tribunal, perhaps overseen by the UN. The author describes the efforts of the Documentation Center of Cambodia in amassing proof that the leaders of the Khmer Rouge ordered mass executions throughout Cambodia during the 1975-79 regime. But the abuses began earlier and continue to the present. Moreover, no one in Cambodia's political elite is completely untainted. Etcheson's historical and legal concerns are intertwined, since the evidence from documents, interviews, and eyewitness accounts, backed up by physical evidence from mass graves, is meant to combat the denial syndrome that is part of Cambodia's tragic and apparently intractable situation. These essays will appeal mainly to specialists in Cambodian political history and international politics, as well as to other readers interested in legal remedies for political violence and genocide. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students/faculty." - Choice "^IAfter the Killing Fields: Lessons from the Cambodian Genocide^R is a thorough insider's description of the Documentation Center of Cambodia's valuable work. More importantly, the book probes the culture of impunity and enhances our understanding of this extraordinarily complex issue. It is a major contribution to genocide studies, as well as an eloquent tribute to the Cambodians who suffered under the Khmer Rouge." - H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online -- H-Genocide "[E]tcheson's great contribution is his orderly, detailed relating of DC-CaM's postwar research into the organization and location of mass murder as well as international legal efforts to bring surviving perpetrators to account." - MultiCultural Review

About the Author

CRAIG ETCHESON is a Research Associate at the Institute for Transnational Studies at the University of Southern California where he teaches research methodology and international relations theory.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique insider's perspective of the Khmer Rouge era 6 April 2009
By Enjolras - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book focuses on the long struggle to bring the Khmer Rouge accountable for the auto-genocide that occurred in Cambodia in the late 1970s. Unlike most books on Cambodia, it does not focus on the history of the killings but how different actors in Cambodian society have dealt with the aftermath. It provides a very useful description of the Documentation Center for Cambodia's work collecting information on the killings. The last chapters discuss the politics behind bringing the Khmer Rouge leaders to justice. This is particularly interesting given the fact that the current tribunal has just begun hearings.

Etcheson tells this story as a true insider, as indeed he is. Not only has he been a longstanding advocate for justice for the Khmer Rouge, he now serves with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal he helped establish. As such, his writing is tinged with passion for his cause. Well worth the read for Cambodia scholars or those interested in seeking justice for mass human rights violations.
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