What Cambodian Massacre?

Two Khmer Rouge defectors -- and the current Cambodian leader -- just want to forgive and forget.

  • PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Well, as long as they're sorry. Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, the two former Pol Pot lieutenants who came out of the cold Monday to hugs and lunch with current Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, have seen the error of their ways. "I would like to say sorry to the people," Khieu Samphan said at a press conference Tuesday. "Please forget the past and please be sorry for me." Hun Sen -- himself a former Khmer Rouge honcho -- has made amnesia his policy as well.

    Western diplomats seem to remember Hun Sen requesting U.N. help in June 1997 to set up a tribunal to try these very leaders for genocide -- but that was long before the strongman won a dubious national election this fall and secured his grip on power. Why stir up trouble now? "We should dig a hole and bury the past and look ahead to the 21st century with a clean slate," Hun Sen told reporters Monday. Considering that the two men bear much of the responsibility for more than a million Cambodian deaths while they were in key leadership positions, the forgive-and-forget strongman has a lot of shoveling to do.