Youth’s Understanding of the Khmer Rouge Trials

Posted by khmernews on September 5, 2008

Srey Sophear

On May 11, 2008 Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP) organized a forum on “the experience of the Khmer Rouge regime” and “the process of the Khmer Rouge trials” at Phanasastra University, cooperated with Church World Services (CWS). There were 131 participants including students, national and international guests, and local and foreign journalists. Mrs. Josephine Barbour, CWS Cambodia director, said that CWS had launched the programs related to the Khmer Rouge since the regime had just fallen. “All youth were born after the Khmer Rouge regime, so they should understand the regime clearly so as to avoid the repetition of such historical events,” she said.“CWS is happy to cooperate with Youth Resource Development Program to continue a good program like this,” she added.

Theary Seng, Center for Social Development (CSD) director, gave a speech about Khmer Rouge history, Cold War, and International Movement for Human Rights. For more understanding of the Khmer Rouge history, Theary introduced youth to read Cambodia History and When the War was Over.

Vann Nath, a survivor of Tuol Sleng prison (S-21) and a famous artist during the Khmer Rouge regime, described his harrowing story from April 17, 1975 to the life in detention center in which he was ruthlessly tortured by the Khmer Rouge.

Theary Seng said that the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia could not try all the relevant people but only top leaders and those most responsible. “We have enough law but political force to try the relevant countries of the regime. Moreover, we don’t try countries, but we try the people,” she added.

The forum enabled students to know clearly about the causes which led to Cold War, the real account of a Khmer Rouge victim, and the bitter Khmer Rouge history and understand the process of the Khmer Rouge trials or the hybrid tribunal.

“This forum helps me to learn a lot about the Khmer Rouge tribunal and the Cambodian history which I never wanted to know before. After I listened to the Uncle Vann Nath’s real experience, I feel very suffered though I was not in the regime,” said participating youth Vuch Vann, adding that it, moreover, helped him to know the process of the Khmer Rouge trials and the people related to the trials.

All the students were satisfied with their participation in the forum because they could understand Cambodian history and the trial process in the ECCC. They will use this knowledge to share with those who have been born after the genocidal regime so that they would understand clearly like them. They, in addition, will continue to observe and participate in the process of the trials until the end.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Society and Reality Newsletter, pages 2-3, vol. 07, #02, June, 2008.


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