Civil party lawyers and representatives from reparations projects gathered yesterday to appeal to donors for more funding for various ventures meant to bring Khmer Rouge victims moral and symbolic compensation for their suffering.
Civil party lawyer Marie Guiraud said yesterday that even if defendants Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea are not found guilty, the projects would proceed as “non-judicial reparations projects”.
“That’s the uniqueness of this reparations scheme,” she said, explaining that funding would continue and the projects would be unchanged. She did acknowledge some complications in the timeline of the projects’ development.
“They are urged to start as soon as possible, which creates an awkward situation where projects are being implemented while the defendants are assumed not guilty,” she said.
Guiraud singled out a health care reparations project by HelpAge Cambodia as particularly deserving of aid.
“If I were to insist on something, that would be access to health care,” she said, adding that 400 civil parties are already too unhealthy to participate in the trial process.
Tum Vira, the executive director of HelpAge Cambodia, hopes to use funding to bring health care to survivors of the regime who are now elderly.
“Our project will work with provincial health departments to address health problems, including regular health care, mental health and livelihood and social inclusion,” Vira said.
He explained that many victims of the Khmer Rouge are now elderly, and the harsh conditions suffered during the regime continue to affect their health today. In addition, the widespread deaths of victims’ relatives have decimated many survivors’ support systems.
Education was also at the forefront of proposed projects, with Bophana Centre creating an informative mobile phone app, while Meta House was fundraising to bring Khmer Rouge survivors directly to classrooms around the country.
“Films, photos, media articles, text documents, music and audio files will be selected and newly produced ... and compiled in the form of a smart device application,” according to Bophana’s materials.
Choun Sopheap, of Meta House, said their project is designed to “bring the history of the Khmer Rouge to students”, who have a tendency to “block out” reminders of the tragic past.
The Victim Support Section estimates it will need an additional $2.5 million to fully fund the various projects.