My dear Kacvey,

Hope you had a great summer vacation and your return to teaching class is full of energy, vitality and exertion to pass on to the students who are impatient to learn to develop their understanding and perspective for a better and different Cambodia.

While you were away, the City of Tonlé Buon Mouk did not sleep and was still abuzz, inter alia,  with the repression on every Black Monday, the heavy traffic of summons, appearances and interrogations at the kangaroo courts but without any result, the continued incarceration of human rights defenders in the dark tunnel of injustice, the foot-dragging investigations on the assassination of Mr. Kem Ley by the apathetic state of the investigators, and the display of force to impress ghosts and vampires.

What “display of force” you may ask? Well, first and foremost, it’s not about the military parade on Independence day on 9 November. It’s rather about the movement/parades of masked troops and the display of foreign military firing power and equipment, combined with military rhetorical arrogance, at different times and places, such as:
– during Mr. Kem Ley’s funerals;
– the joint display of the marine/air force/masked men in the Mekong river, the air space and the area around the opposition headquarters;
- the display of very heavy arsenal and armament manned by masked men of the supreme bodyguards unit at the celebration of its anniversary, and
– the repeated declarations of allegiance to the tribe by military honchos as well as the increasing frequency and doubling down of threats publicly launched by the same honchos towards the civilian population. Parenthetically, why have the Army and the National Police been so quiet/silent about the rising and predominance of “bodyguards here to quell?” Perhaps, as Martin Luther King, Jr., once, said: “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Kacvey, your students might ask if Cambodia is preparing for some kind of a war against a probable foreign occupation or invasion in the near future? In the absence of signs of political or borders-related belligerency from Cambodia’s Eastern and Western neighbors, but in the knowledge of methodical repression of political opposition as well as political assassination in the domestic environment, it could then be conjectured that such recent movements/parades of heavily armed masked men and such displays of heavy arsenal and armament in public and peaceful sites must have been:
– firstly, to impress the donors that their generous gifts have been carefully and cleanly looked after;
– secondly, to re-assure the same donors that their gifts would not be used against them, nor against foreign immediate neighbors, and
– thirdly, and most importantly, to directly send a message to all Khmer that these foreign gifts will be solely intended for the killing of any Khmer who dare to challenge the autocratic and deeply corrupted regime. Unarmed Khmer, beware! Autocracy, when armed by foreign interests, militarily or otherwise, has no religious/moral virtues nor mercy, and is not afraid of ordering Khmer to kill Khmer, in the name of its tribal interests.

If that being the case, one can easily picture the return of past Khmer Rouge murderous practice in the contemporary era of the ex-KR administration. However, in the name of adaptation, modern time calls for a modern way to do the killing. What Vladimir Lenin, once said, still remains currency as far as Cambodia is concerned: “Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.” European Bolshevism has gone, but “Cambodian Bolshevism” is still alive and kicking fatally hard. Kacvey, do you remember “Chiso and Sochi” a few months ago?

Have Cambodia learned anything from past and tragic lessons of the Killing Fields? Or the killers of the Killing Fields have never faded away? Are Cambodians perpetual “Cain and Abel?” These are hard questions and realities that go against the current of human decency, peace and democracy.

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Update on 14 September 2016: