Link: Long-delayed Khmer Rouge genocide trial to begin [Associated Press]

Cambodia's first genocide trial is finally underway as prosecutors launch their case against Kaing Guek Eav (known as Duch). Four other senior Khmer Rouge officials are set to be tried over the next year.

Amnesty International has called for many more people to be brought to trial to deliver justice to the millions of victims of the Khmer Rouge.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have been plagued by political wrangling, corruption scandals and inadequate financing with Japan injecting $200,000 on March 20th to pay for salaries for 251 Cambodian court employees.

Link: Khmer Rouge defendant expresses 'sorrow' for crime [Associated Press]

News just in, Duch has expressed "regretfulness and heartfelt sorrow for all crimes" and he has taken responsibility for the crimes committed at S-21.

Link: Cambodia PM rejects wider Khmer Rouge trials [Reuters]

The Cambodian prime minister has warned today that putting more Khmer Rouges cadres on trial could plunge the country back into civil war. He has said that he would prefer to see the tribunal fail than have his country return to war.

This was the same excuse used to prevent a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Cambodia, which I discussed here. It is so frustrating and I cannot deny that at this stage, such things could cause great instability. When I first heard on 17 February that the "landmark" Khmer Rouge trials were starting, I could not believe that this was happening for the first time in 30 years. I had naively thought that such trials would have happened at least 25 years ago and this is why I immediately went out and tried to read up on the Khmer Rouge regime.

That is the precise problem and the lesson to be learned from all of this: it is vitally important that we react appropriately and quickly to human rights violations in order to stop them happening as they happen. In addition, commissions of inquiry must be speedily set up following such events and perpetrators of human rights violations must be brought to answer for their crimes in a timely but fair manner. This is vital to ensuring healing and reconciliation and in maintaining stability following such events.

About Mandy Southgate

Mandy Southgate is an accountant living and working in London. She is passionate about world events such as genocide and apartheid and has a desire to understand how these events continue to occur in the modern world. With a focus on the 20th and 21st centuries, A Passion to Understand reflects her continuing research and reading on these topics.
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  1. As a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, I can't say I'm too enthusiastic about the current tribunal. Trying a handful of surviving Khmer Rouge leaders is unlikely to deliver neither justice nor closure for Cambodians. After all, Pot Pol and many top leaders have already died peacefully in their sleeps. Not on trial are the countless lower level KR cadres who were "just following orders".

  2. @ weblaunch: Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment on this post. I am very interested in your standpoint and I see that it is a prevailing opinion in Cambodia. There are so many considerations in a case like this. As you say, it will not get the very top leaders, it may lead to furtehr instability in the country, it will not affect the hundreds of lower level soldiers and so the list goes on.

    On the other hand, it is not really acceptable that the world kept quiet about this for 30 years and that nothing was done. The biggest lesson we can learn from this is that justice must be delivered swiftly in situations like this.

    Do you believe that nothing could be helpful at this time? Having lived through the fall of Apartheid South Africa, I can say the the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was extremely helpful and helped us to heal and reconcile our past. While it is true that Apartheid fell only 15 years ago, some of the cases that were heard during the commission dated back to the 70s and 80s, perhaps before.

    If you would be interested in talking more about this or if you would like me to investigate anything earlier on the front page of my blog, please let me know. I would be honoured if you would grant me an interview but understand that this is a lot to ask.


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