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

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring