Sunday, November 15, 2009

A responsibility to protect

Andrew Anthony, in a long and, at times, horrifying piece, recounts the experiences of Somaly Lun, a Cambodian survivor of the Khmer Rouge. It is worth reading in full. In particular I was struck by this,
In the midst of this revolutionary dystopia, one of the most difficult ideas for the teenager to accept was the thought that the world had abandoned Cambodia. "I kept thinking all the time, 'Why does no one come and rescue us?' We'd look up in the sky for the sign of a plane. Any little sound of gunfire got us excited – Somebody must have come! But it was just them killing somebody who had escaped, otherwise they wouldn't waste their bullets."
In the end it was the Vietnamese invasion and occupation that stopped the genocide. Tied up in Cold War politics, it was an action supported by many on the left who were to oppose subsequent Western interventions, whilst the Khmer Rouge continued to hold Cambodia's seat in the United Nations. Liberations are messy and imperfect, but after reading Somaly Lun's recollections of seeing her ten-year-old brother burned alive for taking a sweet potato who can doubt their necessity?

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