31 March, 2009

News from Cambodia

I wanted to highlight two articles about what’s happening in Cambodia. The first is the UN tribunal is underway. The man on trial, Duch, is accused of being one of the head perpetrators of the genocide. On the stand he asked for forgiveness for the unspeakable evil he committed. I heard from someone that one of those awaiting trail (don’t know if it’s Duch) became a Christian and while he knows he is forgiven he knows he must face the consequences of his actions… Amazing!

I just finished reading As We Forgive about the reconciliation effort in Rwanda. Between each story Catherine writes about forgiveness and provides some truly poignant truths about how forgiveness is not just a feeling but an action and a process, and that forgiveness is meant to be an external, community process and not to just be done “in our hearts.”

I often struggle with how lower members of Pol Pot’s regime or the Hutu’s who were acting on the propaganda they were fed are able to find peace after the war is done. One of the bishop’s of the Anglican church is talking to Hutu’s in prison, helping them find forgiveness and release from the horrors that plague them. It’s easy to de-humanize the attackers, to just call Duch evil and refuse to see that he is still human. Yet all are worthy of God’s forgiveness, but to receive it one has to become humble and repent. And that to me is key. Pol Pot died unrepentant, many of the Hutu’s who planned the genocide still hide out in the DRC, Joseph Kony of the LRA steals children with no remorse, men continually purchase the girls in Phnom Penh without shame or conscience. For Duch, I hope justice is done for him, I hope he is made to face the full effect of what he did to those people 30 years ago. But I also hope he finds forgiveness and possibly peace in the midst of the deep pain he has lived with. I don’t think we can understand the demons that haunt the people who commit some of the worst evil man is capable of.

The other article is about how human trafficking is on the rise in Cambodia. It makes mention of Somaly Mam, who wrote The Road of Lost Innocence. Mam survived being prostituted and started a home for girls coming out of commercial sexual exploitation. It is a haunting read, made more so by the fact that 20 years later Mam is still ashamed, scared and sees herself as unworthy. Reading her book I was reminded of why victims of CSE need a place that pours God’s love and redemption and joy into their lives. No longer being prostituted was not enough to free Mam from the deep pain CSE brings, only God in His amazing grace can do that!

My organization is having a forum in May focusing on our work in Cambodia. We are having top speakers on demand, prosecution, aftercare, and one of the counselors from the home will be there. I am leading a session on what you can do living in American to tell others about slavery and help stop CSE. For more info (and for registration!) go here.