Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Reparations approved for victims of the KR

Reparations approved for victims of the KR

Reparations approved for victims of the KR

THE Cambodian government has responded to a request by civil party lawyers at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, approving the first reparations projects to be offered to victims since the court began trying the regime’s senior leaders.
In a June 11 letter to civil party lead co-lawyers Pich An and Elisabeth Simonneau-Fort, Council of Ministers Secretary of State Hing Thoraxy said that the government would approve two requests – one designating a National Day of Remembrance, and another expanding the teaching of Khmer Rouge history.

A woman frees a bird at Choeung Ek to commemorate victims of the genocide during a Day of Anger ceremony in May. PHA LINA
A woman frees a bird at Choeung Ek to commemorate victims of the genocide during a Day of Anger ceremony in May. PHA LINA

“In accordance with the above subject and references, the Office of the Council of Ministers wishes to inform the Civil Party Lead Co-Lawyers that the Royal Government agrees to . . . Designate the 20th of May as the National Day of Remembrance, an annual public holiday celebrated in lieu of the Day of Anger or Memorial Day, which has been observed since 1984,” reads the letter obtained yesterday.

In the letter, the government also agreed “that documentation of the history of the Democratic Kampuchea regime be organised and incorporated into the academic curriculum for general education from grade 7 to grade 12, as well as the foundation curriculum of higher education institutions”.

The response made no explicit mention of a third request often voiced by testifying civil parties, and included by the co-lawyers in their own letter: that the government help to preserve “crime locations or killing fields, build stupas or worship places, [and] set up libraries or small document centres and museum or exhibitions”.

According to the government’s response, funding for the projects would be raised by the court’s Office of Administration.

Latt Ky, coordinator of the rights group Adhoc’s Khmer Rouge tribunal program, which aids nearly 1,700 civil parties, said that while the reparations were a step in the right direction, they still fell short of fulfilling the government’s responsibility to victims of the Khmer Rouge.

“They want the visible reparations, like the monument and the preservation of the crime sites,” Ky said of the civil parties, noting that even the date of the proposed Day of Remembrance was already a ruling party-tinged holiday.
“I don’t object to the day May 20, but it’s not meaningful reparations to the victims,” he said. “But I appreciate it, because [Khmer Rouge history] should be considered in the national education, let’s say, at the high school level. I consider it an important thing.”

Cambodian Justice Initiative program officer Panhavuth Long called the approved reparations “a victory for the civil parties”, but also noted that one couldn’t rule out the possibility that the Day of Remembrance would be politicised.


  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh