Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Injustice, deceit for KR victims

Injustice, deceit for KR victims

Injustice, deceit for KR victims

On Sunday the Americans celebrated Mother’s Day. We, Cambodians, can join them in honouring our mothers and grandmothers by demanding greater, more dignified justice from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
 
The Khmer Rouge created more than 1,200,000 orphans of whom I am one when they extinguished 1,700,000 lives including those of my father and mother. The last words of my mother (“My daughter, go back to sleep.”) continue to haunt me, as she lulled me in her arms the night of her violent death in Boeung Rai Security Center, whose mass graves contained 30,000 skulls.  

My parents and those of the 1,200,000 other orphans’ were flesh and blood – with a name, a history, a family – and not some statistics or legal theories to be conveniently disposed of – again! – by the tribunal.  

We honour them by demanding justice. Whatever justice may be – legal, social, restorative, etc – it must include TRUTH. TRUTH IS A PRE-CONDITION OF JUSTICE. Truth involves who speaks and who gets heard.

In extinguishing Cases 003 and 004, the tribunal extinguishes truth; it extinguishes justice; it extinguishes the voices of victims – those who died and those who survived – and our right to reparations.

We have been crudely conditioned to think of reparations mainly in monetary terms, which factor but insignificantly to what we desire of truth via reparations. It is useful to think of reparations with these six “R”s:

  1. RECOGNITION. There must be public recognition of the crimes, of the perpetrators and of the suffering of the victims. This recognition must include obligations of the state. Not only has the tribunal been negligent in recognising the suffering of the victims, it is being deceitful about its dealings of Cases 003/004.
  2. RIGHT TO REMEDY. This includes rights of participation, of design, of citizenship.
  3. REPAIR. Even if symbolic.
  4. REFORM. Let’s start with the judiciary!  
  5. REAL AND REALISTIC. The reparations offered must be tangible and practical, eg provincial learning centres and memorials; the physical assets of the tribunal to furnish these learning centres and memorials.
  6. RECONCILIATION. It is not a moment but a process; it is not a principle but a strategy.  What is happening now with regards to Cases 003/004 works against reconciliation as it works against truth-seeking.

The tribunal (including the UN) is engaging in great deceit. It thinks that truth is inconvenient, justice is inconvenient.

Well, so are 1,200,000 orphans living without our parents for the last 35 years.

But let me conclude not with these sordid facts but with the inspiration from the reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, to raise all of us to higher grounds from the dirt of the tribunal: “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”

Theary C Seng,
president of CIVICUS: Center for Cambodian Civic Education; president of the Association of Khmer Rouge Victims of which the Civil Parties of Orphans Class is a subgroup.

Send letters to: [email protected] or PO?Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length. The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • Diplomatic passports issued to foreigners to be annulled

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will move to annul diplomatic passports issued to those not born in Cambodia. Analysts say the move may be in relation to reports that former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a Cambodian passport to register as

  • Hun Sen warns Irish MP of EBA ‘mistake’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday told former Irish premier Enda Kenny, still a member of the EU nation’s parliament, that the 28-nation bloc should not make a “third mistake” regarding Cambodia by using the preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement to “take 16 million

  • The hairy little heroes saving many lives in rural Cambodia

    IN RURAL Siem Reap province, rats dare to tread where no person will, as these hairy little heroes place their lives on the line each day for the good of the local community. The rodents are the most important members of a special team, leading

  • PM warns EU and opposition on 34th anniversary of his rule

    HUN Sen reached the milestone of 34 years as Cambodian prime minister on Monday and used the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ring road around Phnom Penh to tell the international community that putting sanctions on the Kingdom meant killing the opposition. “Please don’t forget