Prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday brought forth scores of documents detailing atrocities committed against Cham Muslim and Vietnamese minorities under the Democratic Kampuchea regime, as the court began key document hearings in its current case against the regime’s senior leaders.
On the first day of such hearings in Case 002/02 – in which defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are facing charges including the genocide of the Cham and Vietnamese – the prosecution relied heavily on Ben Kiernan’s research in The Pol Pot Regime, as well as witness accounts of the Khmer Rouge era.
Tales of religious persecution were rife in the evidence, with countless examples of Muslims being forced to eat pork and women to cut their hair – both actions that violate Islamic rules.
“One day, when I refused to eat pork, the chief of the village ordered me to kill a pig and threatened me that I would be killed if I did not,” one complaint read.
According to Farina So’s An Oral History of Cham Muslim Women in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge Regime, which was also cited yesterday, many mosques were profaned and turned into torture chambers.
Religious leaders were tortured and killed, while religious texts, including the Koran, “were collected to be burned or used as toilet paper”, prosecutor Dale Lysak read.
The prosecution argued that the presented documents proved the Khmer Rouge actions were not “limited to Cham people who were ‘bad elements’”, but “to entire Cham families and people”.
Deputy prosecutor William Smith also presented a series of Democratic Kampuchea speeches and written records, maintaining they evidenced a policy of ethnic killings of Vietnamese combatants and civilians alike.
Quoting from a 1978 speech by Khieu Samphan, Khmer people were called to “completely and forever eliminate the enemy of all stripes, especially the expansionist, annexationist Vietnamese aggressors, from our Cambodian soil”.
Smith argued the documents assisted in proving the Communist Party of Kampuchea view that the Vietnamese should be racially discriminated against, targeted and killed.
Today, civil party lawyers will conclude their accounts detailing the treatment of Cham and Vietnamese people during the Khmer Rouge regime, followed by presentations from Khieu Samphan’s defence counsel.
Nuon Chea heard yesterday’s proceedings from his holding cell due to back pain and dizziness. His international lawyer, Victor Koppe, was absent.