Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chea denies animus claims in tribunal speech

Chea denies animus claims in tribunal speech

Accused Nuon Chea makes comments regarding the expert testimony given by professor Alexander Hinton yesterday at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during Case 002/02. ECCC
Accused Nuon Chea makes comments regarding the expert testimony given by professor Alexander Hinton yesterday at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during Case 002/02. ECCC

Chea denies animus claims in tribunal speech

Ex-Democratic Kampuchea brother number two Nuon Chea confronted expert witness Alexander Hinton yesterday at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, challenging his assertions that Khmer Rouge propaganda had expressed racial animosity towards the Vietnamese and advocated the killing of Vietnamese civilians.

The alleged genocide against the ethnic Vietnamese and Cham minority are key charges against Chea and fellow co-defendant Khieu Samphan in the current Case 002/02, though the Chea defence has long argued that the regime’s alleged targeting of ethnic Vietnamese had nothing to do with race – a prerequisite for genocide – and everything to do with its problematic relations with Vietnam as a state.

Hinton had previously testified extensively on the Khmer Rouge regime’s deployment of the colloquial and often derogatory term “yuon” – used to describe Vietnamese people – characterising it as an incitement to violence.

He also drew a parallel between the violent consequences of anti-Vietnamese rhetoric and the sporadic reprisals that ac-companied anti-Muslim sentiments in the US after 9/11.

“The [US] government began to talk about Muslims and Arabs in derogatory terms, as barbarians and savages, and in the United States, there began to be attacks on people,” Hinton said.

However, in a 10-minute commentary prior to adjournment, Chea took issue with Hinton’s testimony on the use of the word Yuon.

“I have listened to the testimony, and I feel uncomfortable with that,” Chea said, going on to recite the definition of Yuon from a 1967 edition of Samdech Chuon Nath’s Khmer dictionary, which states the term refers simply to residents of territories that largely comprise modern-day Vietnam.

“So Democratic Kampuchea did not mean to incite anyone, and the term is clearly defined in that dictionary, and actually Pol Pot gave instructions to us that we should not regard them [Vietnamese] as our hereditary enemy; they were our friends, but we had contradictions with them,” he said, adding “although [Pol Pot] did not elaborate further on those contradictions”.

Responding further to the rhetoric of “one of ours for 30 of theirs”, which was discussed by parties in the context of a Pol Pot speech reproduced in the April 1978 edition of Revolutionary Flag magazine, Chea argued that this was simply a question of “militia military tactics”.

“Pol Pot said we should only deploy a smaller number [of forces] against the larger number [of Vietnamese forces] because we had only a limited number of troops,” he said, adding that “it did not in any way refer to the killing of any Yuon civilians”.

Chea then put two questions to Hinton. “Thus far, does Vietnam actually forfeit their ambition to swallow and grab Cambodia?” he asked, before moving on to the subject of the US’ role in the Cambodian conflict.

“You are an American citizen and you know that actually the US dropped bombs on Cambodia for 300 days and nights . . . Do you consider that as a crime of war and genocide?” Chea asked.

Before answers could be given, however, prosecutor William Smith questioned whether it was appropriate for Hinton to respond with only partial access to evidence and given that, in the prosecution’s view, Chea was misrepresenting the facts.

Chea defender Victor Koppe, however, countered that “Mr Hinton is man enough to be able to give a reaction; he really doesn’t need your guidance, Mr prosecutor.”

Addressing the question about Vietnam’s ambitions, Hinton responded that he “would respectfully say that’s not the case”, explaining that such a view is reductive.

As for America’s conduct during the Vietnam war, Hinton said, it’s possible the bombing violated international law and that “the bombing was a process of upheaval, which combined with the CPK’s vision of society . . . led to genocide”.

“In the end, I stand strongly by my stance that the word Yuon can be a very incendiary word; it’s a word that can incite hatred and violence, and in the context of [Democratic Kampuchea] it was an incitement to genocide.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy stopped in Paris from boarding Thai flight

    Airline officials at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday prevented Sam Rainsy from boarding his flight to Bangkok ahead of his announced return to Cambodia on Saturday. Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier in the day assured Phnom Penh residents that there would be

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • MEPs' call for Rainsy's safety not European Parliament position

    The European Parliament said on Friday that a statement by 56 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) calling for guarantees of Sam Rainsy’s freedom and safety should he return to Cambodia did not represent its position. Delphine Colard, the European Parliament’s press officer told