Apprehension about Effect of Chinese donations and loans to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Posted by khmernews on January 31, 2007

In recent years, China has provided numerous grants and loans for the Cambodian government while it is reported that millions of Chinese are living in poor conditions. Although the Cambodian government, led by the PM Hun Sen has shown their enthusiasm about the substantial grants and loans from China, some people are not happy with this as they are afraid that the money will influence the Khmer Rouge Tribunal on the former senior Khmer Rouge leaders, who were known to be strongly supported by China.

Some international observers and diplomats are worried that the grants and loans provided by China could affect the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. They said that although the Cambodian government claimed that the grants and loans would not have any consequences on the Tribunal, it could somewhat slow down the process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal until all former senior Khmer Rouge leaders have died. They said if there was a tribunal for those leaders soon, the mystery of the support from Beijing to the Democratic Kampuchea regime would be revealed.

The National Bank of China on Monday, 22 January 2007 decided to provide loans of US $207 million to the Cambodian government for the constructions of National Road No.8 and 76, Prek Ta Meak Bridge, Prek Kdam Bridge, and an information technology network for communication in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region. This US$207 million, has increased the current amount of debts owed by Cambodia to an unaffordable amount. Moreover, it is unsure whether Chinese grants and loans won’t affect the Khmer Rouge Tribunal which has been already facing many obstacles.

ECCC officials said that the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) would start in the middle of June 2007 without any more suspense. However, observers have said that the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia would not be able to start its process as planned since there were still internal rules which have not yet been passed and a worrying amount of political intervention in the tribunal. The demands of the Cambodian Bar Association to take part in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, for example, is said to be a government backed plan to delay the progress of the tribunal.

The Khmer Rouge regime has been accused of killing nearly 2 million Cambodians, from 17 April, 1975 to early January, 1979. At present, only Khan Khech Ieu, known as Duch, former Toul Sleng Prison(S-21) chief, is being detained for the tribunal after Ta Mok, former senior Khmer Rouge military commander, died from illness in Preah Ket Melea Hospital on 21 July, 2006. Others including Ieng Sary, Noun Chea, Ieng Thearith, and Kieu Samphan are living freely. 

Recently Noun Chea, Big Brother 2 and the former President of the Khmer Rouge National Assembly, said that the heaps of evidential skulls and bones for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal were fake. The general public criticized him vigorously and wished to have the trial soon so that the living former senior Khmer Rouge leaders would be made responsible for the crimes they committed; otherwise, they would not accept the brutal acts they did.

Some civil servants expressed their concern over the tribunal which started in the middle of 2006. They said if the trial was still delayed, Cambodians would not have any sense of justice, and the expense of US$56.3 million would be useless, so both the UN and Cambodian government should pass the internal rules of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal soon so that the trial can be started as planned.

Cambodians, who are living in Cambodia and overseas, want the trial to start soon in order to find out who the masterminds of the mass killings were and why there were mass killings during the Khmer Rouge regime. In particular, they want to know who commited the mass killings of nearly 2 million Cambodians, the pro-Vietnamese Khmer Rouge or the pro-China Khmer Rouge. As a result, the Extraordinary Chambers needs to try the stil-living former pro-China Khmer Rouge leaders soon so that they can reveal everything that happened during the regime.  

The general public claims that if there was no financial influence on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal from China, the trial would be carried out as planned without any more obstacles but if the financial assistance affects the Khmer Rouge Tribunal as some observers and diplomats are worried, the Tribunal will meet a succession of obstacles which might prolong the trial until former senior Khmer Rouge leaders die.

Adopted from: Somleng Youkvachun Khmer. Vol14, #2951 Wednesday, 24 January, 2007.


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