THE Cambodian Genocide Project (CGP) - the US government funded organization that
has spent the last two years collecting documents and testimonies on the Khmer Rouge
(KR) regime - says that is has gathered enough new information to convict the KR
leadership of genocide, should someone ever decide to prosecute them.
"Yes," said CGP Manager Craig Etcheson without hesitation, "That's
correct," when asked Jan 21 if his group had enough new data to try and convict
members of the KR politburo for crimes against humanity committed during the 1975-79
Pol Pot regime.
Etcheson would not comment on specific individuals but said that "the entire
DK leadership is implicated."
Surviving members of the KR's Standing Committee of the Central Committee include
Pol Pot, Son Sen, Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ta Mok and Yun Yat - all who are believed
to be in Anlong Veng - and Ieng Sary who lives near Phnom Malai and was given an
amnesty by King Sihanouk last year.
The Standing Committee (from '75-'79) had four other members: Hu Nim, Hou Youn and
Vorn Vet, all of whom were purged from the party and executed. Another member of
the Standing Committee, Khieu Ponnary - Pol Pot's first wife - has been rumored to
be in an insane asylum in Beijing or dead for many years. However, Etcheson said
that a recent KR defector gave information that she was still alive and living in
Anlong Veng, although this report could not be confirmed.
Etcheson, however, noted that "we are not lawyers or prosecutors or judges and
don't deal with these things... but we've done our best to collect all the information
The CGP has collected a mountain of information on the KR regime, according to Etcheson.
This includes extensive details of mass grave sites, signed documents ordering executions,
the internal decision-making processes of the Santebal - the KR security service,
detailed information from thousands of books, documents, and photos pertaining to
political violence during the KR regime, as well as professional life histories of
the KR leaders.
Asked what was the most striking thing about the information collected, Etcheson
said: "...the extent to which it reveals centralized control of the killing
Etcheson said that the CGP would not be releasing any new figures on the numbers
of people who were killed or who died of disease and starvation under the three year,
eight month and 20 day Pol Pot reign of terror. "That will come out of an analysis
of the data we've collected," he said. Estimates vary widely on the number of
deaths during the Pol Pot regime, although most experts put the figure at over one
Much of the data collected will be loaded on the internet "within the next week
or two" said Etcheson, including a full set of the prisoner photos from the
Toul Sleng prison in Phnom Penh.
The CGP will also be submitting a report on their work to the US State Department,
although an exact date has not been set for its submission.
While the initial $500,000 funding for the project from the US government has been
spent, he said that the CGP had received new funds which will enable work to continue
for another two years.
A $250,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation in New York and a $160,000 grant
from the Dutch Government were awarded to the CGP, Etcheson said.
"We are in the process of developing a work plan," he said when asked what
the CGP would do with the additional funding. "We will continue the efforts
we have done and make the results more comprehensive."
The Cambodian Documentation Center, an adjunct of the CGP based in Phnom Penh, has
become an independent Cambodian NGO as of Jan 1, Etcheson said, while noting that
the CGP would continue to work with the Center as its work progresses.