mandag 5. august 2019

Brother Number Two: Nuon Chea obituary

Nuon Chea, who has died aged 93, was a lifelong revolutionary who served as “Brother No 2” in the Cambodian communist movement for almost half a century. In this role, he presided over extensive purges of suspected enemies within and outside the ruling party, resulting in the execution of more than 300,000 Cambodians between 1975 and 1979, when the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot controlled what was then known as Democratic Kampuchea.

During his years in power, Chea earned a reputation for dogmatism and ruthlessness. He put into practice the reckless, utopian policies of the party, which included emptying the cities, closing schools and monasteries, abolishing private property and empowering the poorest of the poor. These policies, set in motion at breakneck speed, were enormously costly in human terms: in addition to those executed by the state, almost one and a half million Cambodians are estimated to have died during those years, of starvation, overwork and misdiagnosed diseases.

Nuon Chea was a pseudonym for Lau Kim Korn, also known as Longreth Raodi, who was born to a prosperous Sino-Khmer family in Battambang, Cambodia. In 1941, after Thailand annexed the province, Chea moved to Bangkok, where he completed his schooling, spent some time as a Buddhist monk and enrolled briefly at Thammasat University.