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Crime in Cambodia
February 8, 2006 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Crime and violence are everyday happenings in Cambodia. The Cambodian media thrives on it. But is it just everyday violence or something deeper?
posted by Xurando (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I was in Cambodia during the attacks on Thais in 2003 which reminded a lot of people just how close to the surface the violence still is. Christine Stansell's article is, in my opinion, very perceptive.
posted by johnny novak at 7:50 AM on February 8, 2006


It does seem like an awful lot of murders for a city of roughly one million.
posted by clevershark at 8:07 AM on February 8, 2006


I was in Phnom Penh a while ago, and some club was closed for a week or so because somebody was shot on the dance floor.
posted by borkingchikapa at 8:17 AM on February 8, 2006


Also, that last article is really good.
posted by borkingchikapa at 8:22 AM on February 8, 2006


When I was in Cambodia, I was struck by how rarely people would raise their voices to each other. You'd see people two people nearly run into each other and just stare bloody daggers at each other while talking in a normal tone of voice. It made me wonder if the overt threatening was restrained because of a real fear of how rapidly violence could escalate.

Reading this article was incredibly depressing - my experience was that Cambodia was an amazingly functional place considering that everyone over the age of 30 has direct experience with the Khmer Rouge. Also, it was shocking to realize how much of the culture was lost during the genocide - a lot of regional Cambodian dishes and customs are gone forever.

Great post!
posted by rks404 at 8:40 AM on February 8, 2006


It's not a Holiday in Cambodia?
posted by AspectRatio at 8:41 AM on February 8, 2006


There is something worse than the invasion of Western Armies and their Bureaucracies. Let's not forget it.
posted by ewkpates at 9:12 AM on February 8, 2006


Chalmers Johnson in his book Blowback pointed out that the Khmer Rouge were able to take power largely as a result of the population's reaction to the "carpet bombing" meted out to Cambodia in the early 70's as Nixon and Kissinger attempted to destroy suspected Viet Cong guerilla bases hidden across the Viet border in Cambodia.
posted by telstar at 9:19 AM on February 8, 2006


There is something worse than the invasion of Western Armies and their Bureaucracies. Let's not forget it.

That being Western-backed client-kings?
posted by jefgodesky at 9:46 AM on February 8, 2006


January 14: A boy who tended cows, Soy Rim, 16, was killed when a B-40 bomb exploded in the afternoon at a rice field in Trapaing Thom village, Kampong Speu province. Soun Chan, a deputy commissioner of Phnom Srouch district, said the bomb exploded when Rim tried to open it for recycling.

The discarded weapons of war. (This one Chinese, I guess.) The gift that keeps on giving.
posted by three blind mice at 9:47 AM on February 8, 2006


That last article is fascinating & very, very depressing.
posted by jonson at 9:49 AM on February 8, 2006


What telstar said. Dictatorships don't come out of nowhere.

I'd really like to visit Cambodia. Nice post.
posted by bardic at 11:46 AM on February 8, 2006


When I was in Cambodia, I was struck by how rarely people would raise their voices to each other. You'd see people two people nearly run into each other and just stare bloody daggers at each other while talking in a normal tone of voice. It made me wonder if the overt threatening was restrained because of a real fear of how rapidly violence could escalate.

No, it's a cultural difference. I spent several years in Thailand, and whether telling you that there's been a coup, your grandma has been murdered, or that you're being robbed, folks do it while smiling. Smiling and laughing, often. I got to the point that I'd equate the danger level of any given situation with just how much laughing was going on, and - after being robbed more than once - wanted to smack the shit out of people the minute the laughing started. For westerners, it's very disconcerting as the worse the news being delivered, the more the speaker smiles and guffaws. (Sort of along the same lines, sort of, Americans, for their part, take forever to realize how our direct eye contact is interpreted by those in other parts of the world.)
posted by onegreeneye at 12:47 PM on February 8, 2006


For those who haven't seen it, The Killing Fields (1984) is a powerful and harrowing film about Dith Pran (bio and book), a Cambodian journalist caught up in the Khmer Rouge holocaust.

Pran was portrayed in the film by fellow survivor Haing Ngor (bio and book), who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance. Ironically, Ngor was murdered in Los Angeles in 1996 by Asian gang members.
posted by cenoxo at 1:02 PM on February 8, 2006


looks like not much has changed since I was in Cambodia in 1996 -- Phnom Penh was one of the creepier places I'd been -- if I recall correctly, from our hotel in the heart of the city, I could see one, maybe two street lights on after dark... It really felt like no other place I'd been -- unsurprisingly, given its history, I guess.
posted by incongruity at 3:27 PM on February 8, 2006


Wow. So is the show “Cops” going there any time soon?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:56 PM on February 8, 2006


Cambodia is this ridiculously beautiful, peaceful, caught-in-time country. It's also heartbreaking to see the level of violence that continues on a day-to-day basis; whether it's through landmines, refusal to try any of the extant Khmer Rouge, poverty, globalisation, AIDS, or one of the more legible forms of overt internal violence, there is an uneasiness not far beneath the surface.

I asked a driver once how he could live in a village, knowing which men were former Khmer Rouge guards and leaders, knowing who had killed neighbours and family members, without seeing them brought to trial, imprisioned, or driven out of the country. He responded that "we forgive with our minds, but not with our hearts." The way he looked at me, in the rearview mirror, as we flew off the massive pot holes in the dusty red road, with land mine signs dotting the ditches along the fields, is a haunting vision that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
posted by fionab at 9:56 PM on February 8, 2006




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