Steve Heder (October 18) seeks clarification of the Cambodian Genocide Program's
plans to disseminate data it is collecting. We appreciate the opportunity to reiterate
our proposal to share what we have learned.
As Mr. Heder observes, every society has the inalienable right to know the truth
about past events. This is the motivation underlying the CGP's work.
Firstly, however, may I point out again that the CGP is extremely grateful for the
blessing and full support of His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk for our program, and
for the Documentation Center of Cambodia.
Secondly, the CGP's assessment of Ieng Sary's record is clear. For instance, I suggest
Mr. Heder consult the new book by CGP director Ben Kiernan, "The Pol Pot Regime:
Race, Power and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79", which
was published earlier this year by Yale University Press and has been widely and
favorably reviewed. The New York Times has also quoted Kiernan as saying of Ieng
Sary: "It is quite clear for the entire history of the regime that he was deeply
implicated in the regime and its actions" (Sept 18, 1996).
As to further finds, the CGP is committed to full access. The Cooperative Agreement
between Yale University and the US Department of State mandates us to create computerized
indexes of both primary source materials and data on Khmer Rouge leaders implicated
in crimes against humanity. In addition, the CGP is also creating computer databases
of photographic and geographic evidence pertaining to gross violations of human rights
under the Khmer Rouge. We are compiling these four databases against a self-imposed
deadline of December, 1996. According to a New York Times report on the CGP, "analysts
say the new research is uncovering and consolidating information that will be invaluable
for historians and for future generations of Cambodians" and that "most
scholars agree that the research appears to be solid and invaluable" (June 7,
1996). Le Monde describes our work as "d'un interet scientifique incontestable"
(July 28, 1996). The Phnom Penh Post added in a recent story on the CGP's research:
"The most comprehensive catalogues of information ever assembled about the Pol
Pot regime are due to be dumped on to the Internet for worldwide viewing in December"
(Oct 4, 1996).
We plan to go further than our Cooperative Agreement with the Department of State
requires. By not only publishing our indexes, but also making data available in a
form that can be checked, we will enable users to reach their own conclusions on
the significance of our discoveries. US legislation requires the State Department
- not the CGP, contrary to Mr. Heder's suggestion - "to provide the people of
Cambodia with access to documents, records and other evidence," and to assist
any national or international tribunal. Nonetheless, the CGP plans to do this as
well. In January 1997, given adequate funding to house, preserve and catalogue our
archives, the Documentation Center of Cambodia will become a permanent institute
for the study of the Khmer Rouge genocide, staffed entirely by Cambodians.
The CGP believes that scholars, legal experts and human rights advocates will be
informed and assisted by our achievements, and that they may be able to rewrite the
history of the Khmer Rouge period based on the vast new research materials we have
- Craig Etcheson, Manager, Cambodia Genocide Program, New Haven, USA.