Youth’s Understanding of Khmer Rouge Regime, Tribunal

Posted by khmernews on September 5, 2008

Srey Sophea

Until present, most youth have not believed or understood clearly about the process of the Khmer Rouge tribunal and the genocidal regime. It is difficult and takes time to make them believe and understand. To comprehend the process of the Khmer Rouge tribunal and the sufferings of Cambodian people during the genocidal regime better, a group of volunteer youth who participated in “The youth participation on the Khmer Rouge tribunal program,” organized a study visit on June 29, 2008 to Tuol Sleng torture center and Cheung Aek killing field and to the Khmer Rouge tribunal to observe Ieng Sary’s appeal hearing on the next day. More than 40 students from Royal University of Phnom Penh, Norton University, Western University, and National University of Management participated in the visit.The visit has promoted the understanding of the new generation’s youth on the history of the genocidal regime as well as the process of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Visit organizer Neang Sovatha said that the visit was intended to urge youth to increase their understanding of and to participate in the process of the Khmer Rouge trials.

Having seen paintings and torture tools at Tuol Sleng prison and Cheung Aek killing field located not far from the capital city of Phnom Penh, all the participating students know and believe that the ruthless regime did happen in Cambodia.

Chhob Samneang from NUM said: “At first I did not really believe what my parents told me, but after I have seen the two places (Tuol Sleng prison and Cheung Aek genocidal center) by myself and listened to the guides who have gone through the regime, it makes me believe that there was the atrocious regime which ruthlessly killed both young and old people. What is regretful is that the leaders were well educated but directed the country to zero point. I hope that Cambodia will not have the regime again.”

Khmer Rouge survivor Lach Somaly, who is a guide at Tuol Sleng Museum, described many events that had happened in the prison, making the participating youth feel shocked and sympathetic about the victims. She told them that the prisoners had been interrogated everyday. The interrogation was accompanied by barbarous torture such as beating, electrocuting, ducking, nail-pulling, hot-steel skin pressing, and letting poisonous animals (i.e. snake, centipede, scorpion) bite. Consequently, some prisoners who could not endure the unfeeling torture died while being tortured.

At Cheung Aek killing field, Nhim Chan Theng, a guide, pointed to the mass graves, explaining the procedure and ways the Khmer Rouge soldiers killed people there. He said that when people were taken to be killed there, a loud speaker would be turned on to blare out noise, intended to cover the moaning sound of the victims. They used all kinds of killings. Even babies and children were thrown against the tree trunk near the mass graves, he said.

On June 30 the volunteer youth attended the hearing to listen to the appeal by Ieng Sary against his provisional detention. With their attendance, youth have gained more knowledge relating to Khmer Rouge tribunal’s legal procedure and code of conducts and justice-finding process which is moving gradually to the truth.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (commonly known to Cambodians as Khmer Rouge tribunal) has been established to render justice to Cambodian people (both victims and survivors) and to warn young Cambodians and leaders of next generations not to commit the brutal acts again. The tribunal, moreover, could make Cambodian children understand their history clearly so as to prevent the regime from coming back.

Through the visit, the students have learned about the ECCC and the torture seriously committed on millions of Cambodians. They hope that this tribunal will run smoothly forward until the end.

In order to prevent such a shocking historical event from happening again, Cambodian youth must try to study and develop themselves so that they could use their collected experience to lead the country in the right way to become a prosperous nation.  Meanwhile, fair and transparent analysis must be made in accordance with the collective benefits. [We] have to control ourselves not to be greedy but to be someone who can accept other people’s opinions, create the national solidarity and develop the country to be prosperous, leaving a good modal for next generations.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Society and Reality Newsletter, vol. 07, #03, July 2008.


One Response to “Youth’s Understanding of Khmer Rouge Regime, Tribunal”

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