Retired King Norodom Sihanouk decried what he said was a growing revisionist movement to cast the late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot as a national hero in comments posted on his Web site on Monday.
He wrote in response to media reports about a Buddhist ceremony held on the eighth anniversary of Pol Pot’s death in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district, on April 15.
“There are now and henceforth a growing number of Khmer men and women in our ‘fatherland of Ankgor,’ Kampuchea, who are deciding and shall decide to make the super-diabolical POL POT (Saloth Sar) into an Immortal National Hero, a ‘God,’ the future savior of Cambodia,” Norodom Sihanouk wrote in a message dated April 20.
Followers of Pol Pot brought offerings of food and incense to the site of his cremation on April 15, as did superstitious people hoping he would offer them luck.
“They make pilgrimages to the tomb of the new ‘Tevoda’-’God’ POL POT to burn sticks of incense and candles so that the beloved Pol Pot should experience Heaven instead of Hell and so that as soon as possible he should be reborn on our earth,” Norodom Sihanouk wrote.
He added that he hoped that if Pol Pot were to return, the current government would remain in power.
“Supposing then that Mr Pol Pot were reborn in 2007, we must pray then our dear and irreplaceable Samdech [Prime Minister] Hun Sen should remain at the helm of our ‘fatherland of Angkor’ until the age of 94,” he added.
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said he believes revisionist supporters of Pol Pot are a slim minority of the population.
He added that former soldiers and party faithful have never reintegrated into society at large because the policy of national reconciliation has failed.
But, Youk Chhang said, the lack of quality education about history in high schools leaves some young students without a full understanding of what happened.
“It’s back to the question of high school curriculum…and how much you learn to think critically,” he said.