Crimes of Democratic Kampuchea: Megacrimes and the Criminological Imagination
Violence and the Civilizing Process in Cambodia, Cambridge University Press, 2015
49 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2016
Date Written: February 23, 2016
The story of the Cambodian hemoclysm or bloodbath, its causes and evolution, have been documented and accounted for by a sustained and critical scholarship. We draw on this literature to account for the extreme lethality of the Democratic Kampuchea (DK) regime led by the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). First, we briefly outline the scale of the violence during DK and then describe the phases, patterns and surges of violence against different ‘classes’ of victims that occurred with the implementation of the DK’s nation building plans, and in doing so offer a sketch of the DK’s short-lived attempt to create a communist utopia. Then we situate our criminological analysis in terms of the struggle to define mega-crime and mass violence, and the limitations of current criminological theories. Next, we outline the explanatory contribution of both macro-level and micro-level criminological theories about the causes of extreme violence, and how these aid us in understanding how individuals and the DK regime were able to implement terror and repeatedly perform acts of murder. We conclude by re-examining the likely causes of this catastrophic surge in mass violence, and argue that although ample precursors of such violence are evident in Cambodia’s history, the convergence of a multitude of adverse external and internal factors combined with the particular form of radical Maoist policies imbued with indigenous over-confidence produced a perfect storm of violence.
Keywords: Cambodia, genocide, crimes against humanity, criminology
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