Should There Be Reparations for Khmer Rouge Defectors, Victims of the Khmer Rouge Regime?
Posted by khmernews on February 25, 2008
Banteay Meanchey: The Khmer Rouge rebels who had been the former cadres of Democratic Kampuchea or the Khmer Rouge regime during the period of 1975-79 separated and integrated with the royal government one after another from 1996 to 1999. Although the integration was mainly due to the persuasion by the royal government’s officials, the government had not granted or promised to award any reparations to the leaders and members of the rebellious group.
However, the royal government has respected the 4 basic rights of the former Khmer Rouge rebels including right to position in the civil administration and RCAF, possession of premises and houses, job, and belongings; right to fair treatment—impunity and forgiven past; and rights to religious and political beliefs, etc. More importantly, the royal government and other development partners have developed the former Khmer Rouge strongholds in all sectors.
Oddar Meanchey’s Anglong Veng district and Trapeang Prasat district, which were the last places to integrate with the royal government in 1999, have also been granted the 4 basic rights and other rights and rebuilt and developed in all areas. Among these developments, individual and group donors prioritized and assisted in the living standard of the former Khmer Rouge, their health (by providing capital for business, treatment and health care) and their security (including the clearing of the landmines and instruction on how dangerous the Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) are).
Men Marandy, Director of Oddar Meanchey’s Agriculture Provincial Department, has recently told Rasmei Kampuchea that in 2000 the UN High Commissioner donated 400 tons of rice seeds and 250,000 fruit plants (5 trees for each family) to former Khmer Rouge in Anglong Veng and Trapeang Prasat through his department. “Not only be the assistance very important for humanitarian acts, but it also conforms to the government’s “win-win policy”. The agricultural sector of the two districts has been especially improved. Meanwhile, ZOA Refugee Care, an international organization for refugees, has given 64 tractors in total while AusCare has given grain seeds, seasonal vegetable seeds and methods for growing those crops. Unicef and French Red Cross have furthered the assistance by providing seeds and growing methods and digging ponds and wells while ZOA has strengthened the survival by also digging ponds and wells, providing household materials and professional training. The former Khmer Rouge solders have jobs and try to work hard in their households and village. Even the disabled do not beg for money,” described Men Marandy.
Men Marandy continued,that in order to improve the food security, the ministry of agriculture at that time bought rice seeds from CARDI giving to the farmers in those areas since the main concern was food shortage, although there was no food shortage, actually. The World Food Programme has also donated food directly and through its partners to the former Khmer Rouge soldiers with programmes such as food for labour, food for health, food for training and rehabilitation, etc.
The royal government and its partners have rebuilt the infrastructure and social economy and raised up the living standard of the former Khmer Rouge in Anlong Veng and Trapeang Prasat after their integration. This is the policy to reconcile and to provide help and warmth, but it is not “reparations”.
Now, the former Khmer Rouge strongholds, Anlong Veng and Trapeang Prasat, have been developed in all fields like the inner areas controlled by the government so far. Other former Khmer Rouge-controlled areas such as Pailin and parts of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Porsat, Kompot, and Preah Vihear have also been developed, mainly together.
Although the former Khmer Rouge are not officially considered as victims of the Khmer Rouge regime, all humanitarian aids given to them so far are those for the victims.
Meanwhile, surviving victims should not ask for the direct reparations from the Khmer Rouge trial. The victims will get justice, be healed of trauma, and know the real history when the leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime which committed genocidal crimes, crimes against humanity and war crimes are brought to justice.
“The Khmer Rouge trial will be able to seek justice and trauma healing for surviving victims and appease the spirit of the deceased victims. However, the surviving victims cannot ask for reparations as they wish or in accordance with the law from the accused, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia or any party, since the degree of devastation of the public and private properties is too enormous while a great number of people were killed,” said Documentation Center of Cambodia Director Youk Chhang, adding that therefore, it is impossibly difficult for victims to ask for individual or group reparations.
However, Youk Chhang pointed out that it is possible for victims to receive collective reparations for healing of their trauma, such as the creation of the day of remembrance of the genocidal regime (now it is called the remembrance day of the victims of Democratic Kampuchea), construction of the memorials (81 places), determination of location of the killing fields (388 places), mass graves (19,733 places), prisons (196 places). Other collective reparations include building roads, pagodas, ponds, wells, irrigation system, training centers, schools, hospitals, trauma-healing resorts, genocide museums, etc.
Although at the moment the ECCC has not tried any former Khmer Rouge charged persons yet, some victims with the guidance from organizations or relevant individuals hope that they could get reparations for what they have lost.
These opinions and purposes are the freedom of an individual while it could not be done so in the context of the Khmer Rouge trial.
-Extracted from Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol. 16, #4508, Wednesday, February 6, 2008.