by Timothy Elphick ATROCITIES committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia must be ended by international pressure according to an "urgent appeal" made to the British government this week by 26 Catholic bishops together with MPs and relief agencies working in the south-east Asian country.
The appeal came as negotiations over the make-up of the Cambodian delegation to the United Nations general assembly took place in the Thai capital of Bangkok. But although the Thai prime minister Chatichai Choonhavan reported that the talks had demonstrated a "conciliatory attitude" between the political factions within the country, there had been no agreement on a ceasefire or an end to hostilities.
"We are gravely concerned at the rapidly deteriorating situation in the country where the Khmer Rouge are now operating deep inside the territory, killing and maiming large numbers of innocent civilians," the appeal stressed.
"Cambodians are being intimidated, abducted and assassinated. Government employees are sought out and executed. Food stocks are being stolen or destroyed. As a direct result over 50,000 civilians have been displaced from their homes and thousands more have become refugees in Australia, Indonesia and Thailand since the beginning of the year."
The Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia in the 1970s and early 1980s and their systematic annihilation of the population was recorded in the film The Killing Fields. Their guerrilla army now again controls large sections of the country.