Friday, May 17, 2013

I need crowdsourcing help with a question about Cambodia

As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds (I've written about the book here, here, and here). One of the great things about the internet in general and blogging in particular is that it sometimes enables one to harness the wisdom of the crowd.  Sometimes a reader will leave a comment that adds an insight or that bit of data or a link that blows one's mind -- that one could not have found through traditional search methods. I don't have as many readers as I used to as a result of not keeping up with my blog (during graduate school).  But I have a question that I very much need help with.  So I thought I would send it out into the world and see what comes back.  

Here is the question that I could use your help to answer:

On page 325 of the paperback (1998) edition of Elizabeth Becker's brilliant book, When the War Was Over, she writes:

"Like the Eastern Zone cadre who escaped to Vietnam once they understood they were scheduled for extermination, the cadre under the minister of industry bolted and went into hiding.  But they were not close to a border; they were not within the protective reach of the Vietnamese army. They could only band together and operate as a rogue vigilante group in Phnom Penh itself, a group of angry, armed factory workers bent on taking revenge against Pol Pot, Duch, and the revolution.  They apparently ambushed and killed other cadre. When Ieng Sary said he feared a coup d'etat inside Cambodia at the time, he was undoubtedly referring in part to these men."  -- Elizabeth Becker, When the War Was Over

I am eager to know more about this group of factory workers who fought back. I checked in the Notes at the back of the book but I did not see a reference for this paragraph. Can anyone point me to any books or sources who might have additional details on this rebel cadre?  Has anyone documented their whole story? 

It is my feeling that Cambodia needs to find its own Oskar Schindlers -- the people who fought back and the people who resisted Pol Pot.  Elizabeth Becker's book Bophana does a brilliant job of that.  But I know there are many many more stories of resistance that can be brought to light -- and this story of the factory workers who fought back seems like a promising possibility. 

Any help you can provide to track down more information about these factory workers would be very much appreciated.