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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid