Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Rouge trials offer chance to gain insight

Khmer Rouge trials offer chance to gain insight

Khmer Rouge trials offer chance to gain insight

Dear Editor,
Last month, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), tasked with prosecuting crimes committed during the period of Democratic Kampuchea, concluded Case 001.

The case investigated Duch, or Kaing Guek Eav, who was the prison chief of S-21, where approximately 14,000 people were forced to confess under torture and ultimately executed. As the Khmer Rouge regime’s highest-level security centre, S-21 imprisoned mostly Khmer Rouge cadres and party officials.

Throughout the length of the case, it was evident that Duch was unremorseful, despite his public apology at the onset of the trial in February.

Indeed, some victims viewed his apology with scepticism and expert observers saw it as a strategy for a lesser sentence.

His concluding remarks last week affirm this and his attempt to use the Court as his last battle to defend his belief in the Khmer Rouge revolution.

His words and thoughts remain strikingly inhumane in the eyes of survivors; he has not changed in the least.

The Court’s next case, Case 002, is the most political and historically important one because it involves the four highest-ranking Khmer Rouge leaders who are still alive today: Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Khieu Samphan.

Many questions concerning Democratic Kampuchea’s rule have not been answered. These leaders have not admitted any responsibility for the crimes during this period and instead have blamed lower cadres and others.

Abundant information exists, however, that demonstrate their culpability, including numerous documents detailing their actions and witnesses who can testify to the formation and implementation of these actions.

Therefore, this trial offers an important chance to uncover and analyse how Khmer Rouge leaders made decisions that caused the deaths of nearly 2 million Cambodians.

Case 002 could provide long-awaited answers to questions that many Cambodians have had regarding Democratic Kampuchea.

Additionally, this case has the potential to offer some justice and relief from the immense pain and suffering bore by victims through the punishment of those responsible.

Youk Chhang
Director, DC-Cam

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

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Cambodia detects new Covid cases after 52 days: PM

    After 52 days of zero new Covid-19 cases, Cambodia has now detected new infections, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. In his special audio address to the nation late on June 28, Hun Sen said the new cases were detected on people who had undergone PCR tests

  • Gold-covered boundary stone found within Angkor Thom’s West Gate

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) announced that their working group in charge of restoration work at Angkor Thom's Takav Gate or the West Gate recently found an ancient stone slab commonly known as a boundary stone. The boundary stone is 53 cm by 53 cm and 12 cm

  • Higher education leaders tour US

    With support from the US Department of State, 10 Cambodian leaders in higher education participated in the 10-day International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP) in three US states from June 19 to July 1. They included nine university rectors and directors of higher education institutions who are members of