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24/ Thion replies to The Asutralian


Letter by Serge Thion published in The Australian (Sydney), October 2, 1995. The underlined passages have been omitted by the newspaper, without any indication that portions of the original text have been carved out. The title had been added by the newspaper. Additional text by the newspaper appears in bold:

20 September 1995

Cambodia accusations

I am only now (Sept 20) apprised of the attacks against me by Mr Stephen J. Morris (The Australian, Aug. 8, 1995). Cambodia scholars are a tiny, fragmented and politically diverse community. The evolution of Cambodia, particularly since 1970, triggered a long series of polemical papers. One thing is sure&nbsp: nobody was ever entirely in agreement with anybody else, inside the small community. It happens that Mr Stephen J. Morris has never been part of the crowd. We have never seen a line from him on Cambodia. Mr Morris is known for only one thing: the fabrication of a document according to which American soldiers captured in Vietnam has been transferred to Soviet Union. It has been proven a pure lie, and a deliberate attempt to damage the possibility of a resumption of diplomatic ties between Hanoi and Washington. One is of course entitled to his own axes and grinding stones, but the means sometime employed may discredit the user. Mr Morris has no credit.(See Reuters dispatch on the findings of a Joint USRussian Commission on POW/MIAs, 2 May 1995.)

He attacks Ben Kiernan on his past. Kiernan has every argument, I believe, to defend himself. But Mr Morris, both in his initial attack in the Wall Street Journal ( April 17) and in your paper, criticises Ben Kiernan for having been associated with me in some publications. I must say that many other Cambodia writers have, at one point or the other, been associated with me in publications. If Mr Morris has a disagreement with even only one line from what I wrote on Cambodia, he should say so and point at it. Mr Morris is extremely ill-informed when he writes that I have "been France's leading supporter of the Khmer Rouge from 1972-78". One could say, on the contrary that I was among the first, in early 1977, to make a difficult breakthrough in the left-wing press and call the Khmer Communists "Barbarians". On the other hand Mr Morris obviously has not read a single line of what I wrote about the problem of how did we get to know what we believe we know about what really happened in the German concentration camps during WW II. I wrote two books on this theme and I did carefully research the subject. Anyone who has done the same kind of work will be labelled a "holocaust revisionist", because the need for revision is totally obvious. Not a single historian today, including the ones most hostile to revisionism, would dare to say that the figure of six million belongs to the realm of proved fact. Mr Morris is only looking for labels he could stick to people he is out to destroy. History is a difficult and often painful task, especially when it deals with bloodshed, political murders, enslavement, and other mistreatments of the human person. We do not need amateurish fits of jealousy. We write texts, we expect readers to judge them for what they say. You should inform Mr Morris and his ilk that they are 20 years late, that the Vietnam war is finished, that the West first lost it but is now winning it.

He and, later, Milton Osborne (The Australian, August 10) say[s] that I am, indeed, a Holocaust revisionist or denier and that Mr Osborne says he would not put his name to any document I am a co-signatory. But since the very day he pushed at my door, in Paris, in 1972, to talk about Cambodia with me, he knows that the chance [of us signing a text together] is quite small to sign a text together. We maintain our disagreements in a civilised way. And did not find disturbing to see nice things put in print about my friend Wilfred Burchett. I tried to remind the press here that the first journalist to go to Hiroshima and break the story was none else than Wilfred Burchett, writing for Fleet Street. There he learned something about our world that is not even scratching Mr Morris' or Mr Osborne's consciences: what is the good use of force? This question is debated by historians since Thucydides. The discussion will continue but Mr Morris is not invited.



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