News / Asia

    Q&A: Traveling the Cambodian Genocide with Noah Lederman

    Signs of Khmer Rouge rule can be seen throughout Cambodia.
    Signs of Khmer Rouge rule can be seen throughout Cambodia.
    The impact of genocide is not only horrific and devastating at the time, but for decades after the atrocities end. It has been witnessed by survivors still alive today in Europe, Africa and Asia. The effects of Cambodia’s violent history during the reign of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s remain among its survivors and their successive generations. Noah Lederman is a travel writer and author of the e-book Traveling the Cambodian Genocide. His guide is informative both for travelers seeking to visit some of Cambodia’s darkest areas and for readers in general who want a sense of what Cambodians endured and life there remains affected decades later. Lederman told VOA’s Jim Stevenson how research into his family’s past opened an interest in what happened in Southeast Asia. 
     

    STEVENSON: A lot of the locals wanted to keep the stories basically to themselves. How open were they eventually in telling you their stories and showing you specific locations?
     
    LEDERMAN:  The longer you spent with somebody, the more comfortable they became. Certain people definitely opened up. We (Lederman and his wife) got to know one of our tuk tuk drivers. Instead of spending the day in the tuk tuk when we went off on a long hike, he wanted to join us. On that hike and everywhere we went, someplace kind of connected him with a past story.
    Cambodia's Khmer Rouge was one of history's deadliest regimes.Cambodia's Khmer Rouge was one of history's deadliest regimes.
    x
    Cambodia's Khmer Rouge was one of history's deadliest regimes.
    Cambodia's Khmer Rouge was one of history's deadliest regimes.
     That is when the stories flowed just by spending the day with him. He invited us back to his house and the stories just kept coming.
     
    STEVENSON:  Did you find that some of the young people are learning some of these stories from the older people who obviously know them?
     
    LEDERMAN:  I think many of them do know what happened. But as one of the survivors had pointed out to me, I don’t think they understand why any of this had happened. The propaganda that is disseminated by the current government and the ignorance that they hope the people will have. The government was involved in some way, many of them with the Khmer Rouge when they were younger. Obviously they were brainwashed young men themselves.  But this level of embarrassment that would go along with a proper education would really shine a light on some of the people in charge… A teenager walked up to us and he showed me a book by a survivor of the Cambodian genocide. He was showing me a pirated version of the book and he was trying to get me to buy it. When we asked what he was learning in school about history, he said they only learned about ancient history. Through conversation he revealed that what happened in the 1970s is not going to make money for these kids when they go off to maybe become tour guides in the future.
    Cambodia remains a troubled land decades after the Khmer Rouge were removed from power.Cambodia remains a troubled land decades after the Khmer Rouge were removed from power.
    x
    Cambodia remains a troubled land decades after the Khmer Rouge were removed from power.
    Cambodia remains a troubled land decades after the Khmer Rouge were removed from power.

     
    STEVENSON:  This trip must have had a tremendous personal impact on you, and your perceptions of Cambodia before and after your visit.
     
    LEDERMAN:  I don’t know if I was really shocked by any of the sights. I kind of knew what to expect. I was more shocked by the people. The government is really corrupt. They are silencing peaceful protestors who are trying to fight for fair working wages and other people who are trying to challenge Hun Sen, the Prime Minister. Despite corruption, despite poor education, despite having one-third of all Cambodians living on less than a dollar a day, despite the health care system being one that allows for the highest infant and child mortality rates in the region, I think Cambodia has a really optimistic people.

    Jim Stevenson

    For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora