Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Khmer Rogue Turns to Christianity and Exploitation

Jason Burke's report "Khmer Rouge embraces Jesus" in The Guardian has garnered lots of attention.

The Khmer Rouge followed a harsh brand of communism, killing nearly two million people in their bid to return Cambodia to Year Zero. Now they have a new faith: evangelical Christianity.

Hundreds of former fighters have been baptised in the past year. The Khmer Rouge's mountain stronghold, the town of Pailin in south-west Cambodia, has four churches, all with pastors and growing congregations. At least 2,000 of those who followed Pol Pot, the guerrillas' former leader who died six years ago, now worship Jesus.

I found these details near the end to be more interesting.

Several Khmer Rouge leaders live in villas in Pailin, profiting from large farms, logging of hardwood forests and gem mining.

Most[Khmer Rogue] veterans now eke out a living as landless labourers on the estates of their former political chiefs. They live in flimsy shacks and work 15-hour days. With no government or international aid, local amenities are scarce. There is one dilapidated health clinic for 30,000 people.

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