Cambodia: The Betrayal

“Unfortunately, this film is not a celebration of a Cambodia now freed from the threat of another holocaust. It’s about betrayal – a betrayal of those who asked for help for Cambodia, regardless of whether that help meant offending the United States and China, which give direct and indirect support to the Khmer Rouge.”

A year after warning of the dangers of a return by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia: Year Ten, John Pilger went back to the country still suffering from the effects of Pol Pot’s tyranny and Western sanctions with director David Munro. In Cambodia: The Betrayal, he reports that there is fear on the streets and “when the curfew comes, the night belongs to the prospect of a second holocaust”.

In Kompong Speu province, Pilger finds that villages are no longer immune to the threat of the Khmer Rouge – several have been captured. Walking down the same hospital corridor as he had a year earlier, he sees children suffering from the same preventable diseases, victims of the West’s trade embargo.

The insistence by those governments on a “comprehensive settlement” that would give the Khmer Rouge a share in power before elections overshadows recent political decisions – Sweden changing its vote at the United Nations, Australia launching its own peace plan and Britain sending diplomats to Cambodia for the first time in 15 years. 

Pilger is shown weapons used against the government by the Khmer Rouge and its allies that have been supplied by Western countries such as France, Sweden and West Germany, as well as China. This leads him into an investigation that reveals direct American and British involvement in these supplies. He also unearths information revealing that Britain’s SAS has given secret training to the Cambodian guerrillas.

“The Khmer Rouge must be stopped,” Pilger concludes. “All aid and comfort to Pol Pot and his allies – guns, mines, bombs, uniforms, training, food and so-called diplomacy – must stop and their bases in Thailand closed down, and the wall built around Cambodia must be torn down and aid to rebuild this country denied no more.”

Cambodia: The Betrayal (Viewpoint 90, Central Independent Television), ITV, 9 October 1990

Producer-director: David Munro (52 mins)

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The John Pilger archive is held at the British Library