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35/ Vickery smokes out



Phnom Penh Post - Nov. 17-30, 1995 - p. 6

Smoking out Heder

The Editor,

I am exceedingly gratified to have smoked out Stephen Heder as a closet
supporter of Ben Kiernan as director of the Cambodian Genocide Program. Some
activists in the Asian Studies milieu who otherwise admire Heder were
troubled that his refusal to sign the petition for Kiernan meant rejection
of Kiernan and agreement with Stephen Morris. We are all relieved that this
was not the case, and each may speculate about Heder's motive in refusing.
Perhaps he felt, as I also did, that the language of the petition was too
pretentious, but I considered that the important matter was to sign against

I hope readers were not confused between the new Cambodian Genocide Program
and the Cambodian Documentation Commission existing from the 1980s, to which
Heder contributed as an advisor. Stephen Morris was also at one time
associated with it, when it showed interest in using anti-DK [Democratic
Kampuchea] genocide arguments to discredit the PRK [People's Republic of
Kampuchea]. This was one of the 'conspiracies' which I tried to combat, and
which was finally discredited by Heder himself in 1990, as I earlier noted.

I was also touched by Heder's concern to vouch for me as a loyal red-blooded
American good ol' boy out on the front lines of spookdom against the Evil
Empire. Let no more gossips call me a pinko Commie Marxist. In the heat of
his emotion, however, Heder forgot that in my remarks about relationships
between US government employment and attitudes toward Cambodian politics I
was joining him in criticism of Kiernan on that detail. Readers can see this
again in his reference to the same matter in the final paragraph of his
latest performance. I invite them also to compare his denial of using
"thinly disguised" with his earlier review (p. 19).

I strongly defend. however, what I have written about the Amnesty reports on
Cambodia in the 1980s. The excuse that in three consecutive years the
release of special Amnesty reports on Cambodia to coincide with UN votes or
a major NGO meeting was by chance simply will not wash I continue to believe
that Amnesty was playing politics, and that its politics were anti-PRK.
Amnesty's absolutist position, which Heder admits, and which I consider
inappropriate in the circumstances, facilitates attacks on weak countries
trying to recover from political disasters, but subject to Western Great
Power disapproval, and Heder with Amnesty lost no opportunity to take
advantage of that weakness.

Amnesty is still playing that kind of politics. They charged that
"international legal experts expressed the opinion that the expulsion [of
Sam Rainsy from the National Assembly] was illegal", which is in any case
hardly a question of human rights, (AI Index ASA 23/11/95, 22 June 1995),
yet the documentation they sent at my request fell short of demonstrating
that opinion.

I do not have time or space to guide readers through all of Heder's
emotionalism and irrelevancies, but with respect to what he said I said
about alleged SoC [State of Cambodia] violence against FUNCINPEC in 1992-93 they should look at a pamphlet by his UNTAC superior, Timothy Carney, who rather lends support to my cynicism, and who also there disavows Heder's
last UNTAC analysis, on the secession (see Whither Cambodia? Beyond the
Election, by Timothy Carney and Tan Lian Choo, Singapore: Institute of
Southeast Asian Studies, 1993, and my review of same in Journal of Southeast
Asian Studies, September 1995).

Michael Vickery


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