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Even in Art, The Khmer Rouge Wrought Anger: Expert

Professor Sum Chhum Bun, director of Asia research at the Cambodian Royal Academy, on “Hello VOA” Monday.

Even though the Khmer Rouge dismantled much of Cambodia's culture, abolishing schools and executing intellectuals, there was room for art and literature. But that art was used “especially to create anger,” professor Sum Chhum Bun, director of Asia research at the Cambodian Royal Academy, told “Hello VOA” Monday.

Sum Chhum Bun was among a group of scholars who gathered to discuss Khmer Rouge culture at the Royal Academy in Phnom Penh on Thursday. “The literature, arts and culture at that time were just for Marxist-Leninist ideology,” he said. Still, he said, the works of the Khmer Rouge had a powerful effect on the youth, especially in conflict, and in the production of agriculture.

The Khmer Rouge used the power of propaganda from the beginning of their jungle resistance until they were finally toppled, he said.

“Was the practice of culture and the arts during the struggle of the Khmer Rouge influenced by communist Vietnam against the Lon Nol regime, which was endorsed by the United States?” he asked on Monday. “There was a theme of the Khmer Rouge to fight against the United States' endorsement and against Lon Nol's regime, and they said it was to liberate the country.”

Ultimately, the Khmer Rouge cadre and leaders succumbed to kharma, he said. They “are now serving their punishment; they are among the poorest, they never live in peace, and they have been arrested for trial.”