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Genocide program

The Editor,

I am writing in reference to the very interesting commentary

piece by Professor Michael Vickery, "The Debate to Apportion Blame" (August 11,

1995). I am concerned that readers of Professor Vickery's article may

incorrectly construe that the Cambodian Genocide Program at Yale University is

involved in organizing a genocide trial in Cambodia. For the record, we are


The purpose of the Cambodian Genocide Program at Yale University is

to catalog all available evidence bearing on the question of whether or not it

can be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that the leadership of Democratic

Kampuchea (DK) violated international criminal laws concerning genocide, war

crimes and crimes against humanity. The question of eventual trials for any

violations we may uncover lies outside the scope of our mandate. The question of

a trial or a tribunal can only be resolved by signatories of the Genocide

Convention and other relevant international instruments, most prominently by the

duly constituted authorities of Cambodia itself.

Moreover, the thrust of

our work is not to "intervene in Cambodian affairs" but rather to work with

Cambodians so that they themselves may make informed and effective decisions

concerning these matters of crucial national import. All three of the primary

projects in the Cambodian Genocide Program - documentation, training and

research - involve Cambodians at every level.

The Documentation Project

depends critically upon the willingness of Cambodians to provide documents and

evidence pertaining to what happened during the DK regime, and the vast majority

of those involved in collecting and compiling this information with us are


The Training Project involves providing social scientific and

legal education to Cambodians so that they can better understand the issues

which would be involved in any decision concerning whether, and how, to hold a


The Research Project is focused on encouraging and assisting

Cambodians themselves to produce scholarly works on events in Democratic

Kampuchea, in the Khmer language. In the past, the vast majority of readings in

Cambodian history have been produced by foreign scholars such as Professor

Vickery and myself, in languages other than Khmer.

Cambodians should

describe their own past, and must choose their own future.

- Craig Etcheson, Manager, Cambodia Genocide Program.



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