Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - No Buddhism ban: Nuon Chea

No Buddhism ban: Nuon Chea

No Buddhism ban: Nuon Chea

A monk examines a photo of Nuon Chea (far left) outside the ECCC last month. Yesterday, Nuon Chea denied that the Khmer Rouge had attempted to ban Buddhism in the Kingdom.

The Khmer Rouge did not “destroy” Buddhism, former Khmer Rouge Brother No 2 Nuon Chea testified yesterday, and did not ban the religion during the regime’s rule.

In the final day of evidence hearings in the case until next year, international deputy co-prosecutor Dale Lysak asked Nuon Chea why he paid respect to Buddhist monks at the tribunal but never in his speeches as a leader in the Democratic Kampuchea regime.

“Some people who accuse the Democratic Kampuchea [of destroying] the religion are wrong,” he said. “They don’t understand the real meaning of religion.”

Lysak later asked Nuon Chea whether the reason he had not paid respect to monks in his speeches as a regime leader was because the party “banned Buddhism and defrocked all the monks”.

“The party did not have any measure to ban Buddhism,” Nuon Chea said.

Defence teams objected to the prosecution’s questioning on the grounds that it was not relevant to the first segment of case 002. The objection was sustained by the Trial Chamber.

Despite being indicted for the crime against humanity of relig-ious persecution, Nuon Chea, co-accused ex-president Khieu Samphan and former foreign affairs minister Ieng Sary will not stand trial for those charges or charges of genocide, torture or forced labour, among others, until a later, as yet unspecified, date.

The Trial Chamber elected to  hear only charges relating to the forced movement of the populations of Phnom Penh and other urban centres during the current trial, one of an indefinite number of “mini-trials” for Case 002.

“Khmer Rouge have destroyed the Buddhism and also not [just] Buddhism . . .  all religion in Cambodia, they want to destroy all,” 26-year-old monk An Vicheth said at the tribunal yesterday.

Yesterday’s hearing also saw the conclusion to the testimony of witness Long Norin, a former aide to Ieng Sary.

Long Norin, 73, repeated claims that he could not confirm or recall statements he made to court investigators in 2007 and details from during and after Khmer Rouge rule.

In response to questioning by Michiel Pestman, for Nuon Chea, about whether he felt “free to testify”, Long Norin said he was “not pressured by anybody” and denied he had been approached about his testimony since his interviews with court investigators in 2007.

Evidence in Case 002 will continue on January 10.


  • Cambodia-Thailand rail reconnected after 45 years

    A railway reconnecting Cambodia and Thailand was officially inaugurated on Monday following a 45-year hiatus, with the two kingdoms’ prime ministers in attendance at the ceremony. On the occasion, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha travelled together from Thailand’s

  • Thousands attend CNRP-organised pro-democracy vigil in South Korea

    Thousands of supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Saturday gathered in the South Korean city of Gwangju to hold a candlelight demonstration calling for the “liberation” of democracy in Cambodia. Yim Sinorn, a CNRP member in South Korea, said on

  • US Embassy: Chinese trade does not help like the West’s

    The US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Friday said relations between China and Cambodia did not create jobs or help industry when compared to the trade between the Kingdom and the US. “About 87 per cent of trade [with China] are Chinese imports, which do not

  • New airport study set for 2019

    A feasibility study on the construction of a new airport in the Kingdom will be launched later this year, according to a Ministry of Tourism spokesman on Monday. The plan was approved last week in a meeting held by the Ministry of Economy and Finance