IN MEMORY OF MY MOTHER - Nāng Thet Borey 1931-2008

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 Ideologies: "Ideologies shape people and its nation! The silent majority is hard at work." -Unknown
 By Vorak Ny
Do You Have a Story to Tell? Don't You!

This could be You!




I'm sad that you died, but I'm happy that you're no longer suffering"
A mother in time of lost

For the history, Khmer Rouge had taken a nation was not their alone, but ours together. April 17, 1975 was an event under extraordinary circumstances never before experienced by Cambodians in history that trouble our minds and hurt our hearts.

Nāng Thet Borey (1931-2008)

Its legacy is Cambodian's tragedy in which we all have played a part that must not be repeated the well-intentioned errors of our nation's past.

Forgiveness is a journey; a journey that took me away against my will. Time helps me heal and forgive those who do harm but I can feel the pain all over again.

My three brothers and two sisters had experienced so much hardship in their life and died terribly in vain for something not their fault alone.

When the Khmer Rouge Revolution gave birth to the dark era of Cambodia, I was five-years old in kindergarten. By the time, I came to realize that they had killed my brothers and sisters, and millions of innocent lives, I was 1,600 Km away in the U.S.


My mother has learned to live with her lost and grief of loosing her children. She passed away last month in France, and away from her children had died during the brutal regime. I am sure that her death has reconciled with her past, and her human nature and Buddhism help her to heal the pains and cope with her lost.

My mother is my driving force. She has great respect for every single soul, even for the Khmer Rouge, who had raided her hut and put her on a show trail for not destroying her souvenirs, that she hold dear to her heart and clothes of her husband.

Her conviction is that one can't contemplate hope unless one address despairs. To heal the wounds of suffering she believes one has to confront humanity in the face and see it for its evilness.

I'm not really a religious person, but for me, forgiveness, is about grace. To be able to forgive someone who has hurt me is a moment of grace. But forgiveness is a journey. Today you can forgive and tomorrow you can feel pain all over again.


She loved nature and laughter. She enjoyed being around children. Those children are in a way a reminder of her own children and grandchildren.

She enjoyed laugher, shopping, and, most of all, she really enjoyed cooking for the people she adored.

My mother would never make it in any history books for her kindness and the love she has for her children, her words and actions only to save and protect us from harm. Her life is too precious, like diamonds, yet it had been chipped but not destroyed.


She is still shining and gleaming through our eyes, her faces bring laughter and joy to our heart; her smiles still embrace all our souls. She gave us strength and we knew that we must live for one another, and her love gave me strength to carry on.

Upon her death, we all whole-heartedly return the love and respect that she gave us. At the waning moment of her gracious life, she was surrounded by her husband, children, adopted children, friends, and grandchildren, all there to remember one last time before a beautiful and wonderful woman's life expired. I never felt so much loneliness in forty years of my life and my world was full or sorrow and emptiness.

My Father

My journey to renounce the violence took place during my 27 years in the U.S. It was a slow and painful process. There was huge cost in terms of lost and loneliness. But I came to realize that Cambodia has been a land of politic; not for the goods of a nation but for self-revenge.

Khmer Rouge has never faced its true conviction in social equality it had sought to uphold. Its fragile existence, Khmer Rouge had sought out hatred and destroyed one another in a name of colorless society. What gave birth to Khmer Rouge must be confronted willingly by everyone who was evolved.

Politic is a dirty word and there are many hands in Cambodian's blood. China had been lobbying hard to suppress the trial because of the Beijing's support for Pol Pot and its efforts to export revolution to the region, while most believed that the Chinese-supported atrocities during Khmer Rouge regime could far more exceed the Rape of Nanjing. The blame passes down from highest to lowest cadres, denial and acknowledgement of the killings. Those are still alive blame the death.


Five surviving suspects of the Khmer Rouge are now in custody, but none has been charged with genocide. The term genocide fall within the legal context, which no other term to convey the moral horror of their suffering. But it helps reconcile with their lost.

Those perpetrators awaiting trials for the crimes committed under their rules are far more honored than most victims they denied justice under their tenures. Unlike, Pol Pot and Ta Mok, Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic and Chile's Augusto Pinochet died before they can be brought to justice.

Forgiveness is more about the needs of the perpetrator than the needs of the victim, or of the family who have lost a loved one. Unfortunately, reconciliation and forgiveness have been politicized, so for me they've lost their value. Human beings can hurt one another hurt beyond repair.

Boran Family

People were murdered and disappearances are anything but crimes of animosity and hatred. Imagine if Pol Pot was still alive today and have to face International Criminal tribunal for the crimes against humanity like some of his peers.

Age and a combination ill-health caught up with him before justice did. He left behind a legacy of grieves; his final resting place bore little resemblance to the larger than life dictator alleged to have engineered some of the worst atrocities committed in the 20th century.

In comparison among his peers in history of madmen, Pol Pot died by his own hands, in his ruined country, his corpse was burned with old rubber tires. The phenomenon of his agenda has not yet been fully explained, and most of what I've read on the subject is somewhat unclear. Yet it was his victims that prevailed and outlasted his evil acts.

I learn to have forgiveness in my heart. To those who had lived with misery and lost find forgiveness ambiguous. The desire for revenge and justice remain. Condoning the Khmer Rouge's brutal acts has been difficult, and revenge largely depends on how much one can accept and understand its true nature driven behind it.


My mother's death recalled a time of dying. Under the rule of Khmer Rouge, she was defiant and resisted to both nature and the executioners. She had offered to share her food ration with me, but I had refused. Everything she did has made her human, and her resilience that kept her alive.

She died at l'Archet Hospital in Ariane, a local hospital not far form her adopted home where she had spent her life for twenty five years with her adopted children. I'm not sure that it was a place where she wanted to live and die. Her mind was elsewhere, dreaming of what it would be like to see and live with her only two children together.

She died alone on a hospital bed on Thursday, January 24, 2008. She was 77.

In memory of my mother: Forgiveness isn't something that's talked about with reconciliation, but it's needed to bring closure to the pain and suffering experienced living under the Khmer Rouge regime. Read: Confronting the Past

Nice, France
Thursday, January 24, 2008

About the Author: Vorak, Ny is the founder of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Vorak Ny is a survivor of Democratic Kampuchea and a reader of Searching for the truth.

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