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.
describe their own past, and must choose their own future.
- Craig Etcheson, Manager, Cambodia Genocide Program.