Fetsum: From the KILLING FIELDS of Cambodia to the KUCHI TUNNELS of the Viet Kong; 7/12/2016
Things happen for a reason Folks; but it is the responsibility of us human beings to cease the moment an opportunity brings to the table. So did I cease mine when a friend from Beijing
Things happen for a reason Folks; but it is the responsibility of us human beings to cease the moment an opportunity brings to the table. So did I cease mine when a friend from Beijing that I met in DC invited me to take a chance on China and I took it from there to explore more Asian societies that I had been spiritually connected with through my Eritrean experience. An aging man in back-packing tourism facing that destiny with a shallow pocket is what happened to me!
I certainly was impressed by the economical and technological advancement of the Chinese if not by their mechanical mentality. The Great Walls of China was simply fascinating to visit needless saying I was excited to see the remains of Chairman Mao at the Tiananmen square where thousands of the Chinese people from all over the place pay tribute piling his rest place with colorful flowers. Although he was a dictator, they respect him for what he did for them to have passed leaving an everlasting legacy in the society.
Then comes Thailand where tourists flock to visit quiet a few interesting places besides the obvious extremely busy and sleepless Bangkok streets which some people consider the Babylon of South-East Asia. I found life a little more challenging compared to China, yet stable enough for people to enjoy their country with significant peace and stability.
But why was I sentimentally attached to Cambodia and Viet Nam more than China and Thailand? Nothing else but resistance and suffering my dear Eritreans! The experience of the Eritrean people synchronized with that of the Cambodians and the Vietnamese despite the unique religious and cultural elements that signify our differences in a common agenda: the struggle of people to just be left alone to live with minimum capacity. That is all there is into it; none of the three societies asked beyond just living peacefully with their socio-economic problem in their countries.
I had to take a bus trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap, just to have a clue about life in Cambodian villages, where the people live in poverty and relatively filthy conditions. I went through the long journey trying to see their situation and better understand how badly Pel Pot crashed them despite the truth that they never resisted his totalitarian dictatorship from the onset of its actuality. The polite, loving and humble Cambodians did not deserve the incredible brutality of the Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot’s Army) that literally destroyed the society killing over 2 million innocent victims which at the time stood for 25% of the population between 1975 and 1979. Every person was directly affected through loss of at least a family member for their trauma to be so obvious from their behaviors and extraordinary humility. I visited theKilling Fields Museum which briefly displays the damage inflicted in the society with that extent of violence. It was simply more than three years of hell to the people that could not yet materially and psychologically recover from the disaster 37 years after the event.
Nothing lasts forever, however, and the fate of the brutal Pel Pot ended at a point in the process for the people to start from the bottom scratch so visible to any keen observer interested to learn their history with genuine empathy. “In 1979, after the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, Pol Pot relocated to the jungles of southwest Cambodia, and the Khmer Rouge government collapsed. From 1979 to 1997, he and a remnant of the old Khmer Rouge operated near the border of Cambodia and Thailand, where they clung to power, with nominal United Nations recognition as the rightful government of Cambodia. Pol Pot died in 1998, while under house arrest by the Ta Mok faction of the Khmer Rouge. Since his death, rumors that he committed suicide or was poisoned have persisted. “
So had been the experience of the Vietnamese people although the enemies that inflicted extraordinary damage in the society were foreigners. The Chinese controlled Vie Nam for 1000 years with relative ease but it was was after the struggle destroyed the French Colonial Army in the battle of Điện Biên Phủ (May 07, 1954) that US imperialism did unimaginable crimes against humanity for about 30 years until 1975, the time the Viet Kong liberated Saigon with extreme sacrifice and nationalistic passion. The decent and welcoming Vietnamese people did nothing wrong to suffer the consecutive eras of external violence and unprovoked abuse of human rights in their motherland. Learning what happened to them from the War Museum in Ho Chi Minh City was overly agitating and emotional. I remembered the history of our people at Mariam Ginbi et al; and the prison enterprises of the current regime and could not stop being depressed exposed to the suffocating American incarceration cells and inhuman mechanisms of torture practiced upon the Vietnamese people from first hand experience. The site so disgusting, one cannot avoid smelling the pain and death suffered by the people and feeling the shame of the Superpower that claims of being the neutral POLICE of the planet. It was impossible to avoid deep emotional crisis which in my case was expressed by silent meditation that went on for at least an hour after I left the compound.
Everything I saw was amazing but the KUCHI TUNNELS in the outskirts of the then Saigon, was something incredible about what human beings can go through and do under adverse situations. KUCHI to the Vietnamese was similar to SAHEL to the Eritreans and the associated tunnels in that village for the Viet Kong was like the trenches in the province for the EPLF fighters. The only difference was the magnitude of the enemy (US Vs Ethiopia) which made the Viet Kong fighters more sophisticated challenging the Superpower. We sure had equal determination and as long trenches as the tunnels the Vietnamese people had during the respective wars but anyone that had the chance to see the Viet Kong style of tunnel warfare can not help wondering about what US soldiers faced at the pinnacle of the confrontation. Learning about 250 Kms of narrow tunnels with thousands of boot-traps and camouflaged slaughter holes where the Americans were butchered to their brutal death was hard to believe. No one could have sustained that type of challenge and resilience the dignified Viet Kong brought to the fight. It was simply a unique guerrilla warfare that mercilessly consumed the Americans to the point anything they stepped on was a cause of their death with no solution at hand despite different ways of attempt; from Gassing and over flooding the claustrophobic tunnels to blanket bombing and burning the entire jungle to the ground. Nor could the enemies understand how that long a network of tunnels was built without trace in front their faces for the history to remain a nightmare in the minds of the US veterans and for the human race to grasp that nothing is impossible for people condemned to extreme violence from internal or external criminals against humanity.
Analyzing the experience in relation to the Eritrean regime clearly tells me the following realities. I knew that the immediate consequence of armed struggle was DICTATORSHIP, the question was what type of dictatorship and how may people react to it! In China, Mao Tse-Tung fought against Chiang Kai-shek of the Kuomintang regime and helped establish the Soviet Republic of China in the mountainous area of Jiangxi before elected chairman of the small republic. He changed his position cooperating with the Kuomintang and fought the Japanese Imperial Army that invaded China in 1937, establishing himself as a brilliant military commander that contributed to the Japanese defeat in 1945. He then emerged as a formidable leader after the Chinese civil war announcing the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. He died on September 9, 1976, at the age of 82, leaving a controversial legacy in both “China and the West as a genocidal monster and political genius. Officially, in China, he is held in high regard as a great political strategist and military mastermind, the savior of the nation”. Whatever he did against the people in his harsh and insensitive years of dictatorship, Mao is regarded as the farther of the country and enjoys high respect from the people as I witnessed in his rest place in Beijing.
In contrast, Pel Pot left a regrettable legacy in the Cambodian society for having been an insane mass murderer responsible for the miserable condition of the people. The traumatized Cambodians vividly express their view talking about the man that hurt the society on individual and family levels of the relationship.
And Ho Chi Minh stays alive in the minds of the Vietnamese people not only for “establishing the Communist-ruled Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and defeating the French Union in 1954 at the battle of Điện Biên Phủ” but also for “officially stepping down from power in 1965 due to health problems, still remaining a highly visible figurehead and inspiration for those Vietnamese fighting for his cause—a united, communist Vietnam—until his death.”
Leaving the Thai people that basically live on tourism aside, the Chinese, the Cambodians and the Vietnamese are today content in their countries peacefully living and slowly prospering ahead. The Chinese make millions of dollars from tourists visiting the Great Walls of defense from the Mongolians 2000 years ago; the Cambodians from the Killing Fields of Pel Pot while the Vietnamese people do it from the war museums and the mesmerizing Kuchi tunnels. Business is booming and the coastal lines rocking in the four countries I have so far been because of correct national policies and practical leadership.
The Eritreans, however, make nothing from their rich mineral and natural resources and infrastructures associated with the history of their struggle. Neither did they benefit from the fruit of their struggle for independence in terms of peace and freedom nor do they make money from tourism of their attractive ports, islands, spectacular peninsulas and revolutionary sites (trenches, tunnels, etc.), thanks to the visionless dictatorship that devalued itself to this level of uselessness.
Now, where does history put the Eritrean dictator that finally ended up losing our love for Ginbot-7 flirtation? Will the Eritreans pile up flowers in his grave yard like the Chinese do to Mao Tse-Tung? Will he remain respected like Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam whose remains and statues stay alive for eternity? I am afraid not! As the truth stands today, he will be remembered for destroying our society like Pel Pot in the Cambodian differential; as ‘a deviant loser that will continue to pay the consequence of his demonic Karma for many lives ahead’. That is what the concept of Buddhism asserts in their consciousness based on my discovery like I believe our religious and cultural norms would on the lives and times of Isaias Afwerki for generations to come.