Thursday, April 21, 2005

Privatizing a Mass Grave in Cambodia

From Rob Maguire of Project Communis, we learn that "Cambodia has privatized a mass grave where thousands of former dictator Pol Pot's political enemies were killed, handing it over to a Japanese company to run as a memorial" ("'Killing Fields' Gravesite Privatized in Cambodia," CBC News 4 Apr. 2005).
Cheoung Ek
Some Japanese, like some Americans, often cluelessly ask, "Why do they hate us?" Most of "them" probably don't hate the Japanese people (nor the American people), but many have a very good reason or two to hate crimes and misdemeanors of Japanese corporations and the government that supports them (as well as US corporations and the government that supports them), which aren't even above making a deal like this (to say nothing of garden-variety capitalist exploitation).

What's the deal?
According to a contract signed on March 18, the new operator, JC Royal Co., is expected to "increase revenue for the state and develop and renovate the beauty of Choeung Ek killing fields." JC Royal is to pay the municipality of Phnom Penh $15,000 a year. In return, it will be allowed to jack up entrance fees, charging foreign visitors up to $3 instead of the current 50 cents. (Kevin Doyle, "The Revenue Fields," Time Asia Magazine 18 Apr. 2005) says that Saddam Hussein's regime probably killed "300,000 or more people over 20 years" and that "the existence of more than 40" mass graves has been confirmed ("Mass Graves," 30 Oct. 2004). If mass graves left by one US-supported dictator in Cambodia are fair game for commodification and privatization, why not those left by another US-supported dictator in Iraq? Or so the Pentagon might think, as it already approved one theme park in Iraq last year, even while fighting its endless war in the country:
Capt. Nik Guran of the 2-320 Field Artillery Regiment, a "major unit" of the 101st Airborne Division stationed in the small Iraqi town of Hatra, inserted a copy of "The Exorcist" in a portable DVD player. As the film began, Guran had the weird realization he was sitting at the location where director William Friedkin shot the opening sequence of his 1973 horror classic.

"He recognized the sun temples," Friedkin recently told me by phone from Hollywood.

"And then the Army hatched this idea," Friedkin continued, "to turn the whole area into a tourist attraction and call it 'The Exorcist Experience.'"

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Breathing new fire into the old clichés that war is hell and love of money is the root of all evil, American G.I.s have found a way to wrest Western capitalism out of the Iraqi sands where part of Hollywood's most popular devil movie was filmed.

Granted $5,000 by the Army's Commanders Emergency Response Program, the soldiers hired unemployed Mosul University students as guides, created a parking lot, opened a police station and revamped a nearby hotel. The theme park, which is officially backed by the Pentagon, will be turned over to the Iraqis once it's operating. Admission will be $2 or $5 with a kabob lunch. ("Strange Find in Iraq," New York Daily News 25 Jan. 2005)

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