Eventually, Are Dead KR Leaders The Ones Responsible For The Mass Murder?

Posted by khmernews on August 2, 2007

Net Pheaktra

Some former Khmer Rouge (KR) leaders have shown their innocence to Cambodians as well as the world after the Co-Prosecutors filed an Introductory Submission to the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges to continue the investigation.

Some former KR leaders including Nuon Chea, former brother number 2 of the Khmer Rouge and Khieu Samphan, former president of the Democratic Kampuchea (DK) State Presidium, who suspected that they might be amongst the first 5 suspects, have pleaded ignorance about the mass murder of innocent people during the KR regime. They claim that they are “patriots” since they fought against the foreign invasion, built irrigation and increased the yields in agriculture so that the country would be moving in “great leaps” forward. Those former KR leaders said that they were ready to face the trials in the KR court. Former DK State Presidium President Khieu Samphan, moreover, said he had already prepared a French attorney to plead him.

Is it the intention of those former KR leaders that they claim they didn’t know anything about the mass murder during their reign?

Some analysts said that through the history it has been found that it’s true Pol Polt’s leadership was confidential: “The more you can keep a secret, the longer you can live.”  Therefore, Pol Pot didn’t tell anyone even his close men about some plans since he was always afraid of losing the power and didn’t believe in anyone else beside himself. Moreover, the “top power” was grabbed by Pol Pot, so some senior leaders couldn’t know the secret plans made by Pol Pot. For this reason, it can be assumed that there was also distrust amongst the communist KR leaders. All the people around were enemies. So, it can be said that other people might not know.

According to the analysts, when top leader Pol Pot was alive, he used to claim that the KR regime didn’t kill people and that it was the plot of the enemies and the Khmer Rouge were made a scapegoat for the mass murder of 2 million Cambodians. What important is that KR leader Pol Pot claimed that he had no regrets for the mass murder of the Cambodians since he was “doing” that to crush the enemies and protect Cambodia from foreign invasion. Moreover, during revolution period the deaths of people were normal, he said. As a result, it can be said that some KR leaders thought that they were right to order killing people to protect their power.

Some other analysts said that though Pol Pot seemed to be very confidential but Nuon Chea, deputy-secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, was a person Pol Pot believed in the most. And besides Nuon Chea, there were others who were left from purging such as Son Sen, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan who were former Cambodian students from France. Pol Pot believed in Nuon Chea very much that he even let Nuon Chea play the role as the Prime Minister instead of him. As a result, the claim of not knowing the mass murder in his reign is an act of gross irresponsibility of a well-educated senior leader.

Some people question that: “Didn’t all the KR leaders know about the mass murder?” Everything which happened in Co-operatives, sub-districts, districts, regions and zones was controlled and observed by the omniscient “Angkar” and reported to the higher levels. There were transfers of people to be killed in lines and cars. And the unarguable evidence is many detention centers which were left from the regime including Tuol Sleng [prison] and Cheung Aek Killing Field. Moreover, millions of skulls and bones are scattered in a lot of mass graves around the country and there are many other undisturbed mass graves. Millions of victims are the witnesses of the atrocities. As a result, the claim that they didn’t know about the killings is clearly an excuse. Former KR leader who are potentially facing the court cannot conceal their faults and responsibilities.

In conclusion, some former KR leaders who have claimed that they didn’t know about the mass murder of almost 2 million Cambodians are intending to cover up their accountabilities for crimes and continue the impunity of their regime. It’s true that self-defense is everyone’s right. “Unless the court says a suspect is guilty, the suspect is still innocent.”  But if the living KR leaders have claimed they weren’t aware of the mass murder and that they were also the victims, who are going to be responsible for genocidal crimes and crimes against humanity? Can millions of victims get justice they have been longing for?  

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is responsible for answering these questions in the near future. But what important is that the trials will be only conducted on former senior KR leaders and people most responsible for severe crimes committed between April 17, 1975 and January 6, 1979. The ECCC will not try the countries which were related and supporting the KR regime. As a result, the assertion the KR leaders claimed that the deaths of Cambodians were caused by foreign enemies will not be clarified. Some senior KR leaders such as Pol Pot, Son Sen, Ta Mok and Kae Pok, who were known to be the masterminds of the killings, have all died one after another. This means that we have been gradually losing the evidence and people responsible for the systematic killings during the KR regime. It should be noticed that former KR leaders who have already died will not be prosecuted.

If the living former KR leaders denied they knew about the mass murder, who knew about it? Though the testimony hasn’t been made yet, it’s predicted that they would point the finger at the dead KR leaders such as Pol Pot, Son Sen, or Ta Mok. They would do it to reduce their accountabilities, and all the accountabilities would fall on those leaders who have already died. The dead people would not explain or deny anything. This would cause an unclear reason for mass murder of almost 2 million innocent Cambodians in the country’s history forever. However, millions of victims have pinned all their hopes on the ECCC.

Informal Translation
-Extracted from Somne Thmey, # 121, Monday-Sunday, July 30-August 5, 2007.


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