Angelina Jolie buys more land in Cambodia – from former Khmer Rouge soldier

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Angelina Jolie in Cambodia

Hollywood actress and director Angelina Jolie is expanding her private stretch of jungle in Cambodia by buying neighbouring land from a former Khmer Rouge soldier – just at the time when she is promoting her film about the horror of Cambodia’s genocide caused by the Khmer Rouge entitled First They Killed My Father, which has received mixed responses in the country.

Jolie already owns 7.5 hectares of riverstrech land in Samlout village in Cambodia’s northeastern Battambang province near the Thai border, the former Khmer Rouge heartland, which she bought in 2002 from Yim Tith, a former high-ranking Khmer Rouge official formally charged in 2015 with committing genocide on 600,000 Cambodians during the Killing Fields reign of terror in the late 1970s.

Yim Tith, former high-ranking Khmer Rouge comrade and accused mass murderer, sold land in Battambang to Jolie back in 2002. Now she is buying more.

Yim Tith was known in revolutionary times as Ta Tith (or “Grandfather Tith”), using an honorific bestowed upon the more prominent members of the Khmer Rouge. He was a commander during Maoist dictator Pol Pot’s Year Zero regime from 1975 to 1979 when more than two million people died through mass executions, torture, forced relocation to the countryside and starvation. He faces a litany of charges from UN prosecutors including genocide and crimes against humanity including murder, enslavement, deportation, unlawful deportation of civilians and forced marriage.

Now, Jolie is in the process of buying more land to expand her jungle retreat from a person called Rieng Cheat, a former Khmer Rouge soldier who served under Ta Tith and called him “a good man,” according to a Daily Mail report.

Her Cambodian land – which features jungle houses,  a private swimming lagoon and a private stretch of river – also doubles as a compound for her charity Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation – named after her adopted Cambodian son – which has established a number of forest community sites in various areas in Cambodia. The foundation acts as a buyer of the land.

Jolie has since built a holiday home on the strongly guarded plot. Villagers say she is planning an eco resort on the once heavily land-mined site. 

Observers note that there is some disparity in Jolie’s actions displaying herself as a Hollywood do-gooder who sets up a community charity in Cambodia and, at the same time, rekindling the Khmer Rouge movie genre, which has seen no shortage of producers and directors in search of a script about Pol Pot and the deaths of more than two million Cambodians, and buying land from an alleged Khmer Rouge mass murderer and now from his comrade through exactly that charity.

Stephen Heder, a US historian specialised on Southeast Asia and former consultant at the UN-sponsored tribunal for the Khmer Rouge, said that Jolie either knew or should have known what she was getting into.

In Samlout, where Jolie bought her retreat, the former Khmer Rouge communists built on their power as insurgents in the 1980s and 1990s to enrich themselves while also becoming members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, proclaiming their loyalty to Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a one-time Khmer Rouge.

“All of this is common knowledge in Samlout and well-known throughout Cambodia,” Heder said, adding that “Jolie must have known or should have known that doing business in Samlout means working with former high-ranking Khmer Rouge who were necessarily involved in the regime’s crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

This is why Jolie’s Khmer Rouge movie is not liked by all in Cambodia. According to the Phnom Penh Post, one survivor said that it was like she came back to the time of Pol Pot’s leadership.

“The old wounds that refused to get healed with time were scratched again. The pain is still there,” she said.

Another said the movie – though well-acted and “watchable” – unnecessarily brings back the ghost of the Killing Fields and was another exploitation of Cambodia’s dark history which has been documented in a number of Khmer Rouge-themed films, most notably the 1984 movie The Killing Fields, the quintessential movie to see about Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge period.

A British film critic at the premiere of the Jolie’s movie on February 18 in Phnom Penh said Jolie has forged a peculiar bridge from her office box success, the dumb-plotted video game adaption Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001 which brought her to Cambodia, to First They Killed My Father about Pol Pot’s mass-murder regime.

“While some say the movie is important to revisit this certain era of Cambodian history, it is telling nothing knew,” he said.

“It just opens old wounds. People in the audience burst into tears from watching once more how the country suffered decades ago. It is just exploiting a genre by a celebrity movie star-turned director, and causing dismay by missing a historical perspective. And now she is going to promote it on Netflix to tap into its commercial potential,” he scolded.

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[caption id="attachment_29560" align="alignleft" width="300"] Angelina Jolie in Cambodia[/caption] Hollywood actress and director Angelina Jolie is expanding her private stretch of jungle in Cambodia by buying neighbouring land from a former Khmer Rouge soldier - just at the time when she is promoting her film about the horror of Cambodia's genocide caused by the Khmer Rouge entitled First They Killed My Father, which has received mixed responses in the country. Jolie already owns 7.5 hectares of riverstrech land in Samlout village in Cambodia's northeastern Battambang province near the Thai border, the former Khmer Rouge heartland, which she bought in 2002 from...

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Angelina Jolie in Cambodia

Hollywood actress and director Angelina Jolie is expanding her private stretch of jungle in Cambodia by buying neighbouring land from a former Khmer Rouge soldier – just at the time when she is promoting her film about the horror of Cambodia’s genocide caused by the Khmer Rouge entitled First They Killed My Father, which has received mixed responses in the country.

Jolie already owns 7.5 hectares of riverstrech land in Samlout village in Cambodia’s northeastern Battambang province near the Thai border, the former Khmer Rouge heartland, which she bought in 2002 from Yim Tith, a former high-ranking Khmer Rouge official formally charged in 2015 with committing genocide on 600,000 Cambodians during the Killing Fields reign of terror in the late 1970s.

Yim Tith, former high-ranking Khmer Rouge comrade and accused mass murderer, sold land in Battambang to Jolie back in 2002. Now she is buying more.

Yim Tith was known in revolutionary times as Ta Tith (or “Grandfather Tith”), using an honorific bestowed upon the more prominent members of the Khmer Rouge. He was a commander during Maoist dictator Pol Pot’s Year Zero regime from 1975 to 1979 when more than two million people died through mass executions, torture, forced relocation to the countryside and starvation. He faces a litany of charges from UN prosecutors including genocide and crimes against humanity including murder, enslavement, deportation, unlawful deportation of civilians and forced marriage.

Now, Jolie is in the process of buying more land to expand her jungle retreat from a person called Rieng Cheat, a former Khmer Rouge soldier who served under Ta Tith and called him “a good man,” according to a Daily Mail report.

Her Cambodian land – which features jungle houses,  a private swimming lagoon and a private stretch of river – also doubles as a compound for her charity Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation – named after her adopted Cambodian son – which has established a number of forest community sites in various areas in Cambodia. The foundation acts as a buyer of the land.

Jolie has since built a holiday home on the strongly guarded plot. Villagers say she is planning an eco resort on the once heavily land-mined site. 

Observers note that there is some disparity in Jolie’s actions displaying herself as a Hollywood do-gooder who sets up a community charity in Cambodia and, at the same time, rekindling the Khmer Rouge movie genre, which has seen no shortage of producers and directors in search of a script about Pol Pot and the deaths of more than two million Cambodians, and buying land from an alleged Khmer Rouge mass murderer and now from his comrade through exactly that charity.

Stephen Heder, a US historian specialised on Southeast Asia and former consultant at the UN-sponsored tribunal for the Khmer Rouge, said that Jolie either knew or should have known what she was getting into.

In Samlout, where Jolie bought her retreat, the former Khmer Rouge communists built on their power as insurgents in the 1980s and 1990s to enrich themselves while also becoming members of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, proclaiming their loyalty to Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a one-time Khmer Rouge.

“All of this is common knowledge in Samlout and well-known throughout Cambodia,” Heder said, adding that “Jolie must have known or should have known that doing business in Samlout means working with former high-ranking Khmer Rouge who were necessarily involved in the regime’s crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

This is why Jolie’s Khmer Rouge movie is not liked by all in Cambodia. According to the Phnom Penh Post, one survivor said that it was like she came back to the time of Pol Pot’s leadership.

“The old wounds that refused to get healed with time were scratched again. The pain is still there,” she said.

Another said the movie – though well-acted and “watchable” – unnecessarily brings back the ghost of the Killing Fields and was another exploitation of Cambodia’s dark history which has been documented in a number of Khmer Rouge-themed films, most notably the 1984 movie The Killing Fields, the quintessential movie to see about Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge period.

A British film critic at the premiere of the Jolie’s movie on February 18 in Phnom Penh said Jolie has forged a peculiar bridge from her office box success, the dumb-plotted video game adaption Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001 which brought her to Cambodia, to First They Killed My Father about Pol Pot’s mass-murder regime.

“While some say the movie is important to revisit this certain era of Cambodian history, it is telling nothing knew,” he said.

“It just opens old wounds. People in the audience burst into tears from watching once more how the country suffered decades ago. It is just exploiting a genre by a celebrity movie star-turned director, and causing dismay by missing a historical perspective. And now she is going to promote it on Netflix to tap into its commercial potential,” he scolded.

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