Interesting to compare this to what Terzani wrote in Giai Phong which was dismissive of “the rumors coming out of Phnom Penh. He doesn’t reflect on that oversight here but he surely felt it.
What had happened in Cambodia between 197 and 1979 under the Khmer Rouge regime defies any fantasy of horror - it was more frightful than anything a man could imagine. The whole society was turned upside down, cities were abandoned, pagodas destroyed, religion abolished, and people regularly massacred in a continuous purificatory orgy. A million and a half, perhaps two million Cambodians, a third of the population, were eliminated. I looked for those I had known and found no one. They had all ended up as “manure for the fields' - because, as the Khmer Rouge said, even the ‘counter-revolutionaries’, or at least their corpses, must serve some purpose.
From A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East by Tiziano Terzani