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Full access to evidence

Full access to evidence

The Editor,

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

found.

- Craig Etcheson, Manager, Cambodia Genocide Program, New Haven, USA.

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