Silent witnesses

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Mar 31 2013

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Category: Asia, Cambodia

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When I walked between the old Khmer monuments of a thousand years ago, the guardian deities with their introverted faces on the gopuras looking out over the land in the four directions, I couldn’t help seeing them as silent witnesses of the horror that had swept the country of Cambodia only a few decades ago. They had seen it all happen. They had not been able to prevent it, but had themselves miraculously escaped the tidal wave of destructive fanaticism.

Unlike elsewhere, in Afghanistan, 25 years later, when the Bamiyan Buddhas fell victim to fanatics of another kind. And unlike last year in Mali, when the mausoleums of Muslim scholars and saints in Timbuktu were demolished by fanatics of a similar kind.

Fanaticism: the seemingly indestructible curse of human nature.

Photo of the week: West Gopura of Ta Som (end 12th century), Angkor / Siem Reap, Cambodia, 2000

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