30 July 2009

Comrade Duch and the sailor “spies”

Although the trial of Comrade Duch quite rightly focuses on the many thousands of innocent Cambodians who were tortured and butchered under his auspices at S-21 a small number of foreigners ended up in his evil grasp too.

Next month New Zealander Rob Hamill will testify as a victim at the Cambodian war crimes trial of the Comrade Duch. Mr Hamill’s brother Kerry was murdered by the Khmer Rouge in 1978.

According to the Scoop.NZ article, Mr Hamill’s appearance at the Extraordinary Court of Cambodia trial of Comrade Duch comes almost 31 years to the day after his brother Kerry Hamill and Englishman John Dewhirst were snatched from their yacht which blundered into Cambodian waters. Fellow sailor, Canadian Stuart Glass was killed, on 13 August 1978.

Kerry and John were tortured for two months at S-21 and forced to confess they were CIA spies, before being executed.

“I expect to experience the widest possible range of emotions when I see Duch,” said Mr Hamill who will be one of two Western victims to testify, “a lot of nervous energy will be expended. Duch says he is sorry and wants forgiveness, but I want to find out whether he truly understands the impact of what he did and the damage he caused. I’m not sure that he does comprehend what he and the Khmer Rouge did to the people of Cambodia, let alone to the families of Kerry, John and Stuart.”

The Wikipedia article on John Dewhirst lists other westerners who suffered their same terrible fate at S-21.

Americans James Clark, Lance McNamara, Michael Scott Deeds and Christopher DeLance

Australians Ronald Dean and David Scott

French brothers Rovin and Harad Bernard and Andre Gaston Courtigne

The article also states that several dozen Vietnamese, Thais, Laotians, Indians, Pakistanis and Arabs were detained in the prison at various times. They are not named

None of them fared any differently than the Cambodian prisoners.

Mr Dewhirst was one of two Britons to die in Pol Pot's Cambodia. The other Malcolm Caldwell, an academic and apparently a fervent supporter of the regime. He was assassinated during a visit to Phnom Penh in December 1978. but that is a different story...


James Higham said...

Duch says he is sorry and wants forgiveness, but I want to find out whether he truly understands the impact of what he did and the damage he caused.

This is the quality in banal evil which really deserves a post in itself.

jams o donnell said...

Possibly the finest phrase coined. I thank Hannah Arendt for that

Knatolee said...

I have visited the museum at S-21 and I will never forget it. I felt the evil oozing from the very walls of the place. It was both horrifying and deeply moving. I still can't get my head around the atrocities perpetrated there ... so many innocent victims, so much suffering. I'll never comprehend how human beings can do such vile things to one another, or how the masses can allow such things to happen.

jams o donnell said...

I find it so hard to get my head around such evil behaviour too Knatolee