Reconciling Peace with Justice in Pailin

Posted by khmernews on October 15, 2008

Reconciling Peace with Justice in Pailin
Dialogue with residents of former KR stronghold


PHNOM PENH, 13 October 2008 – The Center for Social Development (CSD) is pleased to invite the public to join residents of Pailin, family members of detained senior former Khmer Rouge leaders, senior officials of the Extraordinary Chambers (ECCC), donor representatives, scholars and other civil society organizations to engage in dialogue on issues of justice and national reconciliation at the CSD-organized public forum in Pailin.

The forum will be held this Friday, 17 October 2008.

In preparation for the public forum in Pailin we have coordinated among small groups of residents and local authorities, inviting participants from two districts totaling around 150 people in number. The participants include villagers, former Khmer Rouge soldiers, students, teachers, monks, and local authority personnel from the departments of culture and fine arts, religion, education, information and women’s affairs.
According to Theary C. Seng, CSD Executive Director, who will be facilitating the Pailin forum:  “We, Cambodians, achingly yearn for peace.  However, until now, we have been satisfied with peace only in the absence of war.  Yes, we do have this negative peace.  But we want more.  We want peace with the presence of justice, a more positive peace.  Through these grassroots dialogues we are having throughout Cambodia, we remind people that peace requires both the absence of war and the presence of justice.”

Pailin is home to a number of now detained senior Khmer Rouge leaders who are currently awaiting trial at the ECCC. The area was a strategic location in the civil war until 1996.

Again, Executive Director Seng:  “Peace is not inevitable.  Peace is active. Peace is a process.  It requires hard work; it requires everyone participating, everyone – both victims and perpetrators – actively coming together in a process of dialogue for understanding and reconciling… which is the more excellent kind of justice.  But sometimes, peace is also LOUD, requiring the pounding gavel of the formal legal system.”

CSD initiated the “Justice & National Reconciliation” public forums in 2000, spending sessions in dialogue with local residents at forums in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Pailin.  CSD resumed work on issues of justice and national reconciliation again in 2006, with half-day forums in Pailin and Kampot, whilst expanding the forum schedule in Kratie to a full day.

In light of the establishment of the ECCC and the substantial new funding from the German Development Service (DED), CSD began a new series of “Justice & National Reconciliation” public forums in 2007, with a deeper and expanded process of dialogue. Public forums now include emotional support and a tour visit for the provincial participants to the ECCC, Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek killing fields. The redeveloped public forum program will last for three years, with an average of 6 public forums per year in all the provinces of Cambodia. A national conference in Phnom Penh will be held annually to conclude each year’s work.

CSD public forums place great emphasis on creating a safe environment that facilitates dialogue and deep engagement.  The number of participants at public forums is deliberately restricted in order to develop a neutral setting that is conducive to discussion. On hand counseling is provided by sensitive and professionally trained Cambodian and international staff at all public forums, as well as during ground preparation and the participants’ visits to the Phnom Penh sites.

CSD public forums intend to disseminate high quality information about issues of justice and national reconciliation to provincial groups that have limited access to information on such topics. In turn, ECCC staff, scholars, and civil society practitioners can glean the sentiments of local participants to take back to the policymakers and stakeholders at the ECCC. Participants at public forums are encouraged to act as ambassadors for their village or commune by returning with printed materials and resources, and by retelling their experiences of the forum at a local level. Participants therefore work as multipliers by spreading high quality information about justice and national reconciliation within their communities more broadly. Public forums are further broadcast on provincial television and local radio in order to ensure the widest possible dissemination of information on the topics of justice and national reconciliation.

The staff and activities of these public forums are funded by DED and Diakonia.

About CSD:  Please visit for further information, particularly by clicking on “Public Forum Unit”, “ECCC Outreach Films” and “Voice of Justice Program” to know more about the peace and justice work of CSD.

For further information, please contact:
–    Mr. IM Sophea, deputy executive director                                             017.787.679,
–    Ms. CHUON Sokunthy, deputy head of public forum unit                  016.872.265,
–    Ms. YIM Sotheary, psychological assistant                                           012.733.644,
–    Mr. SOK Leang, senior project assistant                                                012.588.081,


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