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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid