Monday, March 22, 2010

Interview with Cambodian genocide survivor Loung Ung

At the invitation of the Parent Teacher Association at Taipei American School, Cambodian activist Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father and Lucky Child, was in Taipei last week to talk about her personal experiences as a child under the Khmer Rouge. She sat down with Taipei Times staff reporter J. Michael Cole on Wednesday to talk about history, trauma and reconciliation.

Taipei Times (TT): Talking about the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) — better known as the “Khmer Rouge Tribunal” — some people have argued that we need prosecution before we can reach the point of true forgiveness for the 2 million people who were massacred in the genocide. Do you agree with this view?

Loung Ung: What’s true forgiveness? Is that even possible? All these standards and all these arguments from people with feelings of justice and true forgiveness, this is verbiage that really isn’t going to be possible. Whether it’s the ECCC or the tribunal, truth and reconciliation or the ICC [International Criminal Court], I don’t think we’re ever going to be able to find a method to give Cambodians true justice and true forgiveness.

It really is about education. This is an opportunity to centralize information and to use it as a tool to educate the next generation. [Cambodian genocide researcher] Khamboly Dy just came out with the historical textbook of the Khmer Rouge era. That was only two years ago and it is now being used in school. When I was at the tribunal last year on Feb. 17 — the opening of the tribunal — I was talking with students who didn’t know anything that was going on.

My full interview with Loung Ung continues here.

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