Analysts: Those parties which pay no attention to Khmer Rouge Trials May Lose Supports from Victims

Posted by khmernews on August 7, 2008

Banteay Meanchey: On July 25, 2008 Cambodia’s eleven political parties concluded their election campaign. Some parties raised Khmer Rouge genocide and vowed to bring those Khmer Rouge leaders to justice for the sake of the people and humanity as a whole. Meanwhile, some parties seemed to pay no attention to this issue. They might think if they talked about it, it would benefit the ruling party. However, this could lead to the loss of support amongst those parties’ members and the people who are the victims, because the Khmer Rouge killed and harmed not only members of a particular party but everyone.

In a forum organized by Voice of Women Radio to disseminate the policies of each party in pushing the Khmer Rouge trials, it was observed that every political party has their policies about and strongly support the trials of Khmer Rouge leaders and those most responsible for Democratic Kampuchea. The trials will have a strong influence on the feeling and state of mind of Cambodians, especially the survivors and the families of the victims the Khmer Rouge killed.

The national election is due to be held on July 27, 2008. Amongst the five outstanding parties, only the ruling party talked about the fall, the prevention and the trials of the Khmer Rouge the most.

In a statement about its policies, the [ruling] Cambodian People’s Party claimed that the party was the only political force which had struggled to save the nation on January 7, 1979 from the genocidal regime and seized back rights, freedom, democracy, esteem, and dignity which had been lost completely during Pot Pot’s reign. It has also prevented the return of the ruthless regime and its leaders and overthrown both military and political appointing Khmer Rouge organization.
Moreover, it has achieved the national reunion through the “win-win” strategy. Furthermore, it has cooperated with the United Nations to establish the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) for the trials of former leaders and those most responsible for the Khmer Rouge regime. It is attempted to seek justice for victims and humanity and heal the trauma of victims, the accused and the perpetrators.

Other parties such as popular Sam Rainsy Party, Funcinpec Party, Norodom Ranariddh Party, and Human Rights Party have also raised the Khmer Rouge trials issue in their campaign but it was not detailed and strong.

SRP’s and Funcinpec’s officials told us on the condition of anonymity that their parties never acknowledged or considered the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 as the real merit [of the CPP] although the Khmer Rouge had killed people and destroyed everything including human rights. [They claimed] it was because the liberation had not been made solely by Cambodians but with the dependence on Vietnam which then controlled and exploited Cambodia.

Those officials said that the Khmer Rouge had done good deed for joining in the struggling movement with the Democratic Kampuchea tripartite government to oust Vietnamese soldiers and administration from Cambodia and to bring sovereignty, dignity and independence to the country and people after Paris Peace Treaty on Cambodia. However, those parties also support the trials of those former Khmer Rouge leaders and people most responsible. But the issue was not their main “focus” during the election campaign.

Reach Sambath, ECCC’s spokesman, told Rasmei Kampuchea on July 26 that “the Khmer Rouge court does not ‘do’ politics nor support or is influenced by any political party or the government.” “We work for the benefits of the victims and justice for humanity over the crimes of the Khmer Rouge,” he added.

However, Reach Sambath said that the ruling party raised the Khmer Rouge trials issue more than other parties did because it had initiated, supported, and urged the process and cooperated with UN [to do it]. “Almost every Cambodian talks about it because although some of them had lived abroad before the Khmer Rouge regime came into power on April 17, 1975 they were also affected. When they came back to their country, they saw demolished houses and their relatives and parents in the village disappeared because the Khmer Rouge had killed them,” he said.

The spokesman for the hybrid tribunal said that some parties also took chance to talk about the Khmer Rouge trials issue in order to gain some benefits while other did not talk about it which they might have failed to think that it affected most people including their members and relatives. “Ignoring the Khmer Rouge trials may make their parties lose some supports as it is the real history which many foreigners have acknowledged and written about this genocide,” he said. “The foreign authors who write about this history could outnumber Cambodian ones (for the famous publications). All Cambodians have been affected by this issue and they are the witnesses because they don’t forget it. [Moreover,] they will support those who hold the trials to seek justice and reconciliation for victims and humanity as a whole,” he added.

“Generally, the opposition parties do not pay much attention to the Khmer Rouge trials because they think that it benefits the present ruling party (CPP),” Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), told Rasmei Kampuchea on July 25. “However, this issue has affected everyone who has gone through the Khmer Rouge regime. It is important to include it in their political messages as the victims of the atrocities are their relatives and members of their parties at present.”

“The Khmer Rouge killed everyone regardless of their political party. They accused each other and planned to kill everyone.  If there was no urgent solution made, [they would have killed all]. However, other parties may think the fall, the prevention and the trials of the Khmer Rouge is the effort of the CPP; therefore, they avoided the focus on the issue. By doing so, they will lose supports because they cannot fulfill the request of the victims to seek justice for humanity as a whole,” said Youk Chhang.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Rasmei Kampuchea, vol. 16, #4652, Sunday-Monday, July 27-28, 2008.


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