By Harendra de Silva –
A new book on Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot by Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge
(Khmer Rouge Beshanaya. Publisher: Sarasavi Publishers)
Dr. Ruwan Jayatunga has in the usual manner come out with a challenging socio-psychological analysis of one of the most disturbing systematic manslaughters in the last century. It signifies several basic weaknesses humans are vulnerable to, that drive them through incomprehensible behaviour that would lead to human tragedy and subsequent regret by the community that took part in the machination of this inconceivable human behaviour. It only takes one leader with charisma and one track power hungry vision and commitment to drive a similar group of immediate subordinates, but more importantly vulnerable wider society may behave as a ‘herd’ without comprehending the outcome. Although the leadership may never regret what happened because of their psychopathic mindset, the community that was used as an instrument to commit the dastardly acts would regret the actions later on.
All what is needed is a ‘grievance’ to substantiate one’s extremist views. The grievances are mostly real due to poor governance, impunity, violence and corruption by consecutive regimes in power. Insecurity of the public makes them attracted to ‘the’ person who proclaims to bring them into a more stable state and these people would become the ‘instruments’ that would be used by the leadership. Another aspect would be a symbol to rally around, such as Aryanism, Kingdom, Eelam or even ‘Democracy’ as used by the allies in Afghanistan and Middle East including extreme symbolic anti-social religious cults such as crusades, Jihad and Lord’s Resistance army. Extreme Buddhist groups in Myanmar and Sri Lanka also use religious symbols to justify violence. It is unfortunate that a predominantly Buddhist country such as Cambodia would be responsible for such an unacceptable violent human behaviour which many regret in hindsight. However extreme irreversible human tragedy has taken place!
The importance of such a book in Sinhala is for the common man to understand these weaknesses in leadership and community at large and prevent us being used as ‘instruments’ in such tragedies as happened not only elsewhere in the world but in Sri Lanka. We need to comprehend our immediate past that saw huge human tragedy and sorrow and we cannot afford a repetition in the land of forgiveness, compassion and non-violence.
It is crucial for all our leadership to not only read but understand what Ruwan is trying to say and to prevent poor governance, Impunity, Corruption and violence as an instrument to solve problems, which is the foundation and justification for future extremist conflicts. A Tamil translation is crucial. Do not allow the Stubborn Western regimes to Justify their assistance to such conflicts in the world of ‘divide and rule’ as was seen in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and now in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The only way is to prevent interference by good governance.
*Prof. D.G. Harendra de Silva – Senior Professor of Paediatrics and Former (Founder) Chairman of the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) of Sri Lanka