Public gallery during testimony of S-21 survivor Vann Nath on 29 June 2009 [Source: ECCC]
This is massive news. As I explained in the article What is Genocide?, international tribunals have determined only two cases of genocide to have taken place since the Genocide Convention was created in 1948. News in this week is that three former Khmer Rouge leaders have been charged with genocide and this is in addition to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity that were brought against them previously (see: Khmer Rouge trial update from 2 November).
Link: Tribunal charges 2 Khmer Rouge with genocide [Associated Press]
On 16 December 2009, news broke that the UN-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) had charged Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary with genocide in connection with their involvement in the deaths of members of Cambodia’s ethnic Cham and Vietnamese communities. The AP article explains that the predominantly Muslim Chams were amongst the few that actively resisted the Khmer Rouge regime and their rebellions were brutally suppressed. The Khmer Rouge regime also launched bloody attacks against Vietnamese border villages and in fact, it was Vietnam’s response to these attacks that eventually toppled the regime in 1978.
Then on Friday 18 December 2009, the ECCC brought the same charges against Khieu Samphan. The court also accepted charges of homicide, torture and religious persecution against Khieu Samphan.
Interestingly, the AFP article notes that the only reason the mass killing of up to 1.7 million Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime is not classified as genocide is because the perpetrators were also Cambodian.
Final arguments have been heard in Kaing Guek Eav’s trial and a verdict is expected next year. I daresay they’ll announce the verdict before embarking on the next cases.