THE Ieng Sary-led Democratic National Union Movement (DNUM), based in the former
Khmer Rouge areas of Pailin and Phnom Malai, held its Second National Congress on
Jan 25, at which the membership "unanimously" decided to reject any prosecution
for recently-defected Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, according
to an official DNUM declaration seen by the Post.
The four-page document states that 285 delegates "from Phnom Penh, provinces
and other cities" attended the meeting. It was given to two reporters who happened
to be in Pailin at the time, but who were prevented from sitting in on the proceedings.
"We were told that ëif there are armed guards at the door it means you can't
attend'," said one of the correspondents.
The statement says that Prime Minister Hun Sen had "warmly welcomed" Samphan
and Chea to return to live in national society. King Sihanouk is said to have been
satisfied "with the good news" and that Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Samdech
Heng Samrin had "welcomed the event".
Former UN Secretary-General Butros Butros Ghali is noted to have "welcomed and
praised HE Khieu Samphan for deciding to return to live in society". He is reported
to have said "Now with the returning of [Samphan], Cambodia would achieve peace
and prosperity, [I] am very happy. The future issues are the internal affairs of
Cambodia, no foreign country shall interfere."
The DNUM congress reiterated its support for the aide memoire given by Hun Sen to
UN Special Representative Thomas Hammar-berg on Jan 21, noting that it supported
views that anything that "leads to the separation of national reunification
should be avoided," "if civil war reoccurs resulting from prosecution,
who would take responsibility," and "the facts from 1970 to 1998 are a
package of events which cannot be separated."
Chea and Samphan's return are described as "the ending of the old unfortunate
part and the opening of the new part of Cambodian history". The DNUM statement
wonders: "When the Khmer are fighting, they are scolded for not having solidarity
with each other, they are good at fighting. When Khmer are good friends with each
other, they are incited to fight each other."
Cambodia is described as an "island of peace" before 1970 and that after
the US and Vietnam signed a peace treaty in 1973 "Cambodia was bombed for almost
seven months, 200 days and nights, without any reason." Cambodia's "culture
of violence" was "created and grew during the war between 1970 and 1975".
Referring to the Paris Peace Accords, DNUM notes that they were about national reconciliation
and not prosecution. "Some Great Powers are now burying the Paris Agreements
to prosecute this or that person. Does this act show that there is cheating?"
the statement asks.
DNUM states that "the historical mistakes in the leadership of the country shall
not be forgotten," that the pain of the people "will not disappear easily,"
and that "the historical mistakes should not be allowed to happen again".
Given a situation that is not stable and the current political environment "DNUM
found that the tribunal to prosecute this or that person is not the solution."
When asked what mistakes the leadership had made, Ieng Sary's son Ieng Vuth said
in Pailin on Feb 1, "The leadership decided not to follow what the people wanted
and they did not work according to the plan."
Vuth said that during the KR years in power there were "difficult working conditions,
an exodus of people from the cities and that [the leadership] were not using the
traditional ways of working."
He said that Pol Pot was responsible for the abuses and that other central Committee
members "were secondary to the Prime Minister so Pol Pot is responsible".
Vuth reiterated the movement line by noting "As a representative of the Phnom
Penh government I stand by the statement of Hun Sen to Thomas Hamm-arberg,"
but he added, "personally, the trial should happen...but the question is when
is it appropriate."
"I acknowledge what happened in the past to the people and I understand that
the victims can not forget. As leaders we look after the people and understand that
the people have suffered," said Vuth.
He added that any trial should include everyone involved but that the immediate priority
was unity and economic stability and the final decision on a trial should be decided
by the Cambodian people themselves.