A Cambodian Tragedy - Lessons for Today
A Luncheon Presentation by BENNY WIDYONO, Professor of Economics, University of Connecticut in Stamford and Former UN Special Representative in Cambodia
During the Cold War, Cambodia was subjugated in the ongoing power struggles for hegemony of Southeast Asia. For two decades, between 1969 -1997, Cambodia was plunged into chaos, turmoil, and civil war culminating in the massacre by the Khmer Rouge of 1.7 million of its own people. Liberation by the Vietnamese army did not end its suffering. Incredibly, spearheaded by China and the US, the United Nations continued for 11 years to recognize the exiled Khmer Rouge as the representative of Cambodia. A UN peacekeeping operation brought this anomaly to an end by holding elections in which a new coalition government of Cambodia was established.
Why were trials against the Khmer Rouge delayed for 30 years? Why did the UN continue to recognize the Khmer Rouge? What are lessons learned from this tragedy?
A UN civil servant, Benny Widyono spent five years in Cambodia in the 1990s, first with the UN Transitional Authority and then as the UN Secretary-General's Political Representative. He will give a firsthand account of the little known details of this fascinating but tragic story. Dr. Widyono is the author of Dancing in the Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge, and the United Nations in Cambodia. He is currently Professor of Economics at the University of Connecticut in Stamford. He is the recipient of the Commandeur de l'Ordre Royal du Sahametrei, the highest class civilian medal in Cambodia. Book sale after program.