French journalist says the Khmer Rouge trials represent the first ‘authentic’ judgment of a communist regime led by 'mass murderers'
Duch's trial is a publishing opportunity. Le Procès des Khmers Rouges, 30 ans d'enquête sur le génocide cambodgien could be translated as "Khmer Rouge trial, 30 years of investigation on the Cambodian genocide".
The author, Francis Deron, is a French journalist who wants this book to counter "a view that tends to give Pol Pot and his right-hand men a less-grim place in the twentieth century". "For my part," the author says, "I don't see that these men are anything else than mass murderers". Clearly, Francis Deron believes it was genocide.
The trial in Cambodia should help review this history even if it is "impossible to penetrate all the mystery of the Democratic Kampuchea".
According to Francis Deron, the main thing is that "this is the first authentic trial of a communist regime" and will probably remain the only one possible for such a form of governance that the author considers as "an imposture".
This book notes the gap between the young Cambodian generation and the people who lived under the Khmer Rouge regime and attempts to link past and present.
In the first chapter, the author leads the reader from Phnom Penh on July 20, 1962, to Battambang in 2008. The chronologies spread in the different chapters support this return to the past.
The book focuses on S-21, its former director Duch, on the most responsible Khmer Rouge leaders and on the movement's history, from origins to Pol Pot's death in 1998.
It presents information to aid understanding of the challenges of the trials.
This book is aimed at the general public.
It compiles information from other books written on Khmer Rouge history, like those of David Chandler, Philip Short, Nayan Chanda's Brother Enemy, Elizabeth Becker's When The War Was Over, Norodom Sihanouk's Prisoner of the Khmer Rouge and stories from survivors.
Articles and interviews are referenced, too. Compared with the existing books, the most effective parts of Deron's book are his own reports, which bring something very personal in the text.
Among the most interesting examples: the story of his report within the nationalist Khmer resistance on the Thai border in July 1985 or the profiles of the Khmer Rouge leaders in which he melds historical details to field reports.