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If Khmer Rouges' apologies are not enough

Cambodia, PM calls for anti-denial law

Cambodia genocide skulls

Cambodia genocide skulls

Cambodia's PM Hun Sen called for a law to punish those who deny the Khmer Rouges genocide in a climate of fierce clash on the background of the former communist leaders. 


At the hearing 4 victims have been allowed to question directly the defendants from the charge of planning and perpetrating the genocide of 2 million people out of 7 carried out by Cambodia's Khmer rouges in the years  1975-79. 


A testimony


Thoutch Pandara, a 67-year old Cambodian woman naturalized French, recalled how the khmer militias seized families and even hospitalized people threatening them with rifles and took them to the villages of Kampong Meas and finally Pursat, where not only the great communist-caused famine started, but also they were compelled to forced labour. Her parents wer obliged to forced labour with teen labourers and they died 1976 with all other relatives of hers as they could not put up with the younger workers' pace. 


She said the conditions in which they died were not even worth the one of animals. Animals in fact are buried, but Ms. Pandara's parents died in an undescribable way, throuwn into a ditch, naked, she does not even know where and she carries a deep sense of guilt for not being able to rescue them by bringing them some rice or else. She said she cannot forget about this. 


Awkward apologies?


One of the "big brothers" of the Khmer rouges under trial, Khieu Samphan, replied in two ways: on the one hand he delivered his apologies directly to the victims, on the other hand he said that the culprits for the atrocities "were not the average people, but the merciless leaders". Therefore the genocide would not have been carried out by millions of "willing executioners", but only by a bunch of fanatic people's leaders. While awaiting the next hearings, we wonder what is the meaning of the "apologies" without a proper assumption of responsibility

31 May 2013

Khmer Rouges

the "big brothers" of genocide in Cambodia

The genocide took place between 1975 and 1978.
Cambodia is a South-Eastern Asian country neighbouring with Vietnam. Colonized by the French, in 1953 it became an independent country led by prince Norodom Sihanouk. He was overthrown in 1970 by a coup of general Lol Non, supported by the United States. After a fierce campaign against the communists and vietnamese who were there in the country, in 1975 the power was seized by the Khmer rouges, a tiny group of Leninist background which had become popular especially in the rural areas of the North. They proclaimed the Republic of Democratic Kampuchea.

The Khmer Rouge was a group driven by the need to find new “objective enemies” and it exterminated a big part of the population according to their religion, race and political views. Accountability and implementation of the genocide by Khmer Rouge movement must be identified among the “big brother”, a group of 20-25 people united under similar educational experiences and views. This group was influenced by Stalinistic ideals; the “Big Brother” developed an orthodox version of communism based on an exaggerated vision and used the concept of race as a pretext propaganda to justify the persecutions of the “objective enenmies”. In Cambodia, there was an “archipelago of concentration camps” to re-educate people, which was called S-21; Duch, one of the members of the “Big Brother” even confessed that the prisoners were being tortured and excruciated before killing them.

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tale of Dith Pran, Righteous in Cambodia genocide

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Dith Pran

reporter, photographer and human rights activist