Archive for the ‘Genocide សម្លាប់ពូជសាសន៏’ Category
PHNOM PENH, June 13 (Xinhua) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday urged protesters to suspend demonstrations against Kem Sokha, vice-president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), for his alleged denial of crimes during the Democratic Kampuchea, or Khmer Rouge regime.
“I’d like to appeal to protesters to suspend demonstrations against him at least until the general election (on July 28) in order to ensure the smooth atmosphere during the one-month election campaigns,” the premier said during the inauguration of the new headquarters of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.
He also advised local authorities not to give permission to anyone who asked to protest against Kem Sokha before the election.
Last Sunday, a nationwide protest, organized by the association of Khmer Rouge survivors, was held to demand Kem Sokha to apologize for his alleged denial of crimes committed at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison during the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979.
The ex-prison was the main torture center during the regime, and around 14,000 people were killed at that detention center.
In February last year, the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia sentenced former chief of Tuol Sleng prison Kaing Guek Eav to life in prison for overseeing the deaths.
However, Kem Sokha said that he would not apologize upon the protestors’demand because he had not denied the existence of the atrocities committed during the regime.
He said his audio-recorded remarks had been edited in a misleading fashion to cause turmoil ahead of the election.
Kem Sokha’s alleged remarks prompted the National Assembly of Cambodia to pass a Law on the Denial of Crimes Committed during the Period of the Democratic Kampuchea on Friday.
Under the law, individuals who deny the existence of crimes committed during the regime will be jailed from six months to two years and fined between 250 U.S. dollars and 1,000 U.S. dollars.
14-3-2013 PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Decades after Cambodia’s brutal Khmer Rouge movement oversaw the deaths of 1.7 million people by starvation, overwork and execution, the regime’s imprisoned top leaders are escaping justice one by one. How? Old age.
Thursday’s death of 87-year-old Ieng Sary, foreign minister under the Khmer Rouge, is fueling urgent calls among survivors and rights groups for the country’s U.N.-backed tribunal to expedite proceedings against the increasingly frail and aging leaders of the radical communist group, which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
Ieng Sary’s wife, former Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith, was ruled unfit to stand trial last year because she suffered from a degenerative mental illness consistent with Alzheimer’s disease. Now, only two people — ex-head of state Khieu Samphan, who is 81, and the movement’s former chief ideologist, Nuon Chea, who is 86 — remain on trial for their alleged roles in some of the 20th century’s most horrific crimes.
There are growing fears that both men could die before a verdict is rendered. Both are frail with high blood pressure, and have suffered strokes.
“The defendants are getting old, and the survivors are getting old,” said Bou Meng, one of the few Cambodians to survive Tuol Sleng prison, known as S-21, where up to 16,000 people were tortured and killed during the Khmer Rouge era. “The court needs to speed up its work.”
“I have been waiting for justice for nearly 40 years,” Bou Meng, 70, told The Associated Press. “I never thought it would take so long.”
When the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh in April 1975, they began moving an estimated 1 million people — even hospital patients — from the capital into the countryside in an effort to create a communist agrarian utopia.
By the time the bizarre experiment ended in 1979 with an invasion by advancing Vietnamese troops, an estimated 1.7 million people had died in Cambodia, which had only about 7 million people at the time. Most of the dead were victims of starvation, medical neglect, slave-like working conditions and execution under the Maoist regime. Their bodies were dumped in shallow mass graves that still dot the countryside.
The tribunal, officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, was tasked with seeking justice for crimes committed during that era.
The court, which was 10 years in the making, began operations in 2006. But despite some $150 million in funding, it has so far convicted only one defendant: Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, the commandant of S-21 prison.
Duch was sentenced in 2010 to 35 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The sentence was reduced to a 19-year term because of time previously served and other technicalities, a move that sparked angry criticism from victims who said it was too lenient. Cambodia has no death penalty.
Several other major Khmer Rouge figures died before the court even existed, including supreme leader Pol Pot in 1998.
Ieng Sary’s death was no surprise given his age and ailing health, said Ou Virak, who heads the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. But “given the fact that the other two defendants are also in their 80s, it should act as a wake-up call to all concerned — the Cambodian government, the U.N., the international donors and the tribunal itself — that these cases need to be expedited urgently so that justice can be served.”
“The whole future of the tribunal is currently in limbo, and the possibility that hundreds of millions of dollars will have been wasted is now a very real threat,” Ou Virak said. “Most importantly, though, if all three die before their guilt or innocence can be determined, then the Cambodian people will quite understandably feel robbed of justice.”
The court has been criticized before for the sluggish pace of proceedings. But William Smith, one of the court’s prosecutors, said the trial has taken time because the indictments themselves have been lengthy, and the list of alleged crimes to be proven long.
The tribunal has been dogged by other problems, including funding shortages from international donors. Earlier this month, Cambodian translators angry that they had gone without pay for three months went on strike just before the court was to hear testimony from two foreign experts.
Tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra said Thursday that the interpreters would all return to work this week after the court administrator promised that they would get paid. But he added that the translators have threatened to strike again if they are not paid by month’s end.
In recent years, the tribunal has also been hit by infighting and angry resignations by foreign judges over whether to try more Khmer Rouge defendants on war crimes charges. Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia since 1985, has warned that no more trials will be allowed. Many former members of the Khmer Rouge, including Hun Sen himself, hold important positions in the current government.
The trial against Ieng Sary, his wife and the last two accused senior Khmer Rouge leaders alive began jointly in 2011. All have denied guilt for their roles during the radical communist movement’s rule.
Lars Olsen, another tribunal spokesman, said Thursday that “we understand that many probably are disappointed with the fact that we cannot complete the proceedings against Ieng Sary, and therefore we cannot determine” whether he is guilty or innocent of the charges against him.
But it’s important to remember, he said, that the case against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan “is not over.” He said it would not be affected by Ieng Sary’s death and proceedings will continue on schedule.
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent group gathering evidence of the Khmer Rouge crimes for the tribunal, said Ieng Sary’s death “carries little value for the regime’s victims, who patiently wait to see justice done.”
Ieng Sary died early Thursday under the care of doctors at a Phnom Penh hospital, where he was admitted earlier this month suffering from weakness and fatigue. He suffered fatal cardiac failure, said one of the prosecutors in his case, Chea Leang, who added that under Cambodian law, all charges against him will now officially be dropped.
Yim Sopheak, a 47-year-old street vendor who said the Khmer Rouge regime had executed her parents, said Ieng Sary “deserved to die in prison, not in a hospital. He should have died in the same way as he executed my parents and other people.”
Yi Chea, a 72-year-old flower seller who says her husband and other relatives were also killed during Khmer Rouge rule, said she was happy Ieng Sary was gone. But, she added that “he did not deserve to die naturally like this.”
Tribunal hearings resume on March 25, said Neth Pheaktra. Foreign medical experts are due to testify on the health status of Nuon Chea, to determine whether the ailing ex-leader is still fit to continue to stand trial.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Ieng Sary, who co-founded the communist Khmer Rouge regime responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians in the 1970s, and who decades later became one of its few leaders to be put on trial, died Thursday morning before his case could be finished. He was 87.
The brother-in-law of late Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, Ieng Sary died before any verdict was reached in the trial, which began in late 2011 with four defendants and now has only two.
His death dashed hopes among survivors and prosecutors that he would be punished for his alleged crimes against humanity during the darkest chapter in his country’s history.
Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the joint Cambodian-international tribunal where Ieng Sary had been on trial, confirmed his death. Chea Leang, a co-prosecutor for the tribunal, told the press that he died of “irreversible cardiac failure.”
Ieng Sary had suffered from high blood pressure and heart problems and been admitted to a Phnom Penh hospital March 4 with weakness and severe fatigue. His body was being taken Thursday by ambulance from the hospital to Malai in western Cambodia, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold where his family lives, for his funeral.
Ieng Sary was being tried along with two other former Khmer Rouge leaders, both in their 80s, and there are fears that they, too, could also die before justice is served. Ieng Sary’s wife, former Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith, had also been charged but was ruled unfit to stand trial last year because she suffered from a degenerative mental illness, probably Alzheimer’s disease.
“We are disappointed that we could not complete the proceeding against Ieng Sary,” Olsen said, adding that the case against his colleagues Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge’s chief ideologist, and Khieu Samphan, an ex-head of state, will continue and will not be affected.
Ieng Sary founded the Khmer Rouge with leader Pol Pot. The communist regime, which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, claimed it was building a pure socialist society by evicting people from cities to work in labor camps in the countryside. Its radical policies led to the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people from starvation, disease, overwork and execution.
Ieng Sary was foreign minister in the regime, and as its top diplomat became a much more recognizable figure internationally than his secretive colleagues.
The Khmer Rouge came to power through a civil war that toppled a U.S.-backed regime. Ieng Sary then helped persuade hundreds of Cambodian intellectuals to return home from overseas, often to their deaths.
The returnees were arrested and put in “re-education camps,” and most were later executed, said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent group gathering evidence of the Khmer Rouge crimes for the tribunal.
As a member of the Khmer Rouge’s central and standing committee, Ieng Sary “repeatedly and publicly encouraged, and also facilitated, arrests and executions within his Foreign Ministry and throughout Cambodia,” Steve Heder said in his co-authored book “Seven Candidates for Prosecution: Accountability for the Crimes of the Khmer Rouge.” Heder is a Cambodia scholar who later worked with the U.N.-backed tribunal.
Known by his revolutionary alias as “Comrade Van,” Ieng Sary was a recipient of many internal Khmer Rouge documents detailing torture and mass execution of suspected internal enemies, according to the Documentation Center of Cambodia.
“We are continuing to wipe out remaining (internal enemies) gradually, no matter if they are opposed to our revolution overtly or covertly,” read a cable sent to Ieng Sary in 1978. It was reprinted in an issue of the center’s magazine in 2000, apparently proving he had full knowledge of bloody purges.
“It’s clear that he was one of the leaders that was a recipient of information all the way down to the village level,” Youk Chhang said.
In 1996, years after the overthrown Khmer Rouge retreated to the jungle, Ieng Sary became the first member of its inner circle to defect, bringing thousands of foot soldiers with him and hastening the movement’s final disintegration.
The move secured him a limited amnesty, temporary credibility as a peacemaker and years of comfortable living in Cambodia, but that vanished as the U.N.-backed tribunal built its case against him.
Ieng Sary was arrested in 2007, and the trial against him started in late 2011. He faced charges that included crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.
He denied any hand in the atrocities. At a press conference following his defection, he said Pol Pot “was the sole and supreme architect of the party’s line, strategy and tactics.”
“Nuon Chea implemented all Pol Pot’s decisions to torture and execute those who expressed opposite opinions and those they hated, like intellectuals,” Ieng Sary said. He claimed that he was a secondary figure excluded from Pol Pot’s secret security committee, which decided policy and who would be executed.
“Do I have remorse? No,” he said in 1996. “I have no regrets because this was not my responsibility.”
Only one former Khmer Rouge official has been tried and convicted: former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, who was sentenced to life in prison.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has openly opposed additional indictments of former Khmer Rouge figures, some of whom have become his political allies.
Pol Pot himself died in 1998 in Cambodia’s jungles while a prisoner of his own comrades.
Ieng Sary declined to participate in his trial, demanding that the tribunal consider the pardon he received from Cambodia’s king when he defected in 1996. The tribunal, formally known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, previously ruled that the pardon does not cover its indictment against him.
Ieng Sary was born Kim Trang on Oct. 24, 1925, in southern Vietnam. In the early 1950s, he was among many Cambodian students who received government scholarships to study in France, where he also took part in a Marxist circle.
After returning to Cambodia in 1957, he taught history at an elite high school in the capital, Phnom Penh, while engaging in clandestine communist activities.
He, Ieng Thirith, Pol Pot and Pol Pot’s wife eventually formed the core of the Khmer Rouge movement. Pol Pot’s wife, Khieu Ponnary, also was Ieng Thirith’s sister; she died in 2003.
Pol Pot was known as “Brother No. 1”, Nuon Chea as “Brother No. 2” and Ieng Sary was “Brother No. 3.”
In August 1979, eight months after the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge by a Vietnam-led resistance, Ieng Sary was sentenced in absentia to death by the court of a Hanoi-installed government that was made up of former Khmer Rouge defectors like Hun Sen, the current prime minister. The show trial also condemned Pol Pot.
Since he was in charge of the Khmer Rouge guerrilla movement’s finances, Ieng Sary was believed to have used his position to amass personal wealth.
On Aug. 8, 1996, a Khmer Rouge rebel radio broadcast announced a death sentence against him for embezzling millions of dollars that reportedly came from the group’s logging and gem business along the border with Thailand. But the charge appeared to be politically inspired, recognition that he was becoming estranged from his comrades-in-arms.
He struck a peace deal with Hun Sen and days later led a mutiny of thousands of Khmer Rouge fighters to join the government, which was a prelude to the movement’s total collapse in 1999.
As a reward, Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia almost unchallenged for the last two decades, secured a royal amnesty for Ieng Sary from then-King Norodom Sihanouk, who himself had been a virtual prisoner of the Khmer Rouge and lost more than a dozen children and relatives during its reign of terror. The government also awarded Ieng Sary a diplomatic passport for travel.
Between his defection and arrest, Ieng Sary lived a comfortable life, dividing time between his opulent villa in Phnom Penh and his home in Pailin, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold in northwestern Cambodia.
He and some of his former aides in the Khmer Rouge, intellectuals who were in a second generation of the group’s leadership, made a short-lived attempt at forming a legal political movement.
28-01-2013 PHNOM PENH (The Cambodia Herald) – The Khmer Rouge tribunal said Friday it would hear new witness testimony next week following the discharge of former head of state Khieu Samphan from hospital.
A statement by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia said the testimony on Monday had been scheduled for the whole day.
“The trial chamber will then continue to hear submissions on documents the co-prosecutors seek admitted as evidence on Wednesday 30 Jan and Thursday 31 Jan,” it said.
The statement said Nuon Chea, the former deputy to Pol Pot, had waived his right to be present during testimony.
AKP 25-01- 2013
The Cambodian side of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) urgently needs some US$7 million for this year, H.E. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers (OCM) told Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Masafumi Kuroki in a meeting here earlier this week.
Cambodia is hoping that new donors and existing friends of the ECCC will come up with new contribution to meet the shortfall since the Cambodian staff have not yet received their salaries since November of last year, said H.E. Sok An, who is also the Chairman of the Royal Government Task Force on the Khmer Rouge Trials.
The Cambodian DPM said that the Royal Government of Cambodia has contributed its maximum effort, with this year’s contribution reaching US$1.8 million, three times larger than its initial commitment of US$0.5 million in 2006, Mr. Ek Tha, Spokesman for the OCM’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit said.
H.E. Sok An added that Cambodia has to face the reality that it cannot further increase this already significant contribution without jeopardizing the country’s judicial reform program, as the funds for the ECCC already exceed the commitment from the national budget to the country’s Supreme Court by 300 percent and to the Appeals Court by 257 percent. Putting together the Cambodian government contribution in kind and in cash, Cambodia has already paid US$16.9 million from 2006 to 2012.
Both H.E. Sok An and H.E. Masafumi Kuroki called for new donors, including countries in the region, to come forward with contribution to support the ongoing trial of the senior leaders of Democratic Kampuchea regime, which ruled the country from Apr. 17, 1975 till early 1979, during which time nearly 2 million people died of starvation, execution, disease and forced labor.
Japan is the largest donor, having contributed more than 44 percent, or US$79 million, of the ECCC total budget since 2006.
20-01-2013 PHNOM PENH (The Cambodia Herald) – The Khmer Rouge tribunal said Friday it would hold document hearings next week due to the hospitalization of Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.
The hearings in the Trial Chamber will take place on on Monday and Tuesday, a statement said.
“These document hearings are likely to continue, should the health condition of the accused persons prevent the Chamber from hearing witness testimonies on 23 and 24 January,” it added.
Phnompenhpost 21-12-2012 Invoking a rule concerning the transparency of proceedings at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, newly appointed International Co-Investigating Judge Mark Harmon has released a list of 14 crime sites now under investigation in government-opposed Case 004.
Security centres and prisons, work sites and execution sites in Battambang, Pursat, Takeo, Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham provinces are among the sites listed in the case against former zone leaders Im Chaem, Ta An and Ta Tith. Many of the crime sites relate to the brutal treatment of the Khmer Krom.
The statement is the first public notice made by the international judge since he took up the post two months ago.
Allegations of political interference into the investigations of cases 003 and 004 have marred the court since the start.
Repeatedly and vocally, top government officials have made it clear they oppose the cases, saying prosecutions of mid-level cadres could spark civil war. Harmon’s two predecessors quit the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges amid claims of political interference and the cases have moved forward only in fits and starts.
The newest list expands upon the Case 004 crime sites begrudgingly released by the office in 2011 under public pressure from the prosecutors. Citing misinformation spread by the media, Bunleng and his then-international counterpart, Judge Siegfried Blunk, issued a list of 30 sites but stressed that there were “serious doubts” over the case’s legality.
Harmon’s list, however, shies away from such language, and, perhaps tellingly, cites the same rule his beleaguered predecessor, Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, invoked as a workaround that allowed him to issue statements without the approval of his national counterpart. Yesterday’s statement is issued only in the name of the international co-investigating judge and does not bear the approval of Harmon’s national counterpart, Judge You Bunleng.
“I’m not surprised that it has come to the point of him having to take action on his own,” said Clair Duffy, a tribunal monitor at Open Society Justice Initiative.
“You only have to look at the history of these cases to see that You Bunleng has resisted every step of the way, since the days of [the first international co-investigating judge, Marcel] Lemonde. I don’t know of any recent developments that would indicate the government had changed its views about cases 003 and 004. And given what we have alleged repeatedly, that every Cambodian decision-maker in the court is under the government’s thumb on cases, I don’t see his position being any different now.”
Neither Bunleng nor Harmon could be reached for comment yesterday.
Senior Assistant Prosecutor Dale Lysak said yesterday he found it heartening that Harmon released the list without requests or prodding from the prosecution. “Obviously, I see this as a pretty positive development,” he said. “So far, things seem to be moving along and making progress. I haven’t seen any of the problems that seem to have been going on with the last few judges. It’s still early, but it seems to be moving forward.”
The inclusion of the Khmer Krom crime sites that prosecutors requested investigated in June 2011 represented a major development for the tribunal, he added. “Corroboration that crimes against the Khmer Krom are going to be investigated is quite important,” said Lysak.
Prosecutors and civil party lawyers maintain that genocide charges should be levied on those responsible for crimes against the Khmer Krom, an ethnic minority targeted by the Khmer Rouge and subjected to uniquely atrocious treatment.
Calling Harmon’s statement “a good first step forward”, civil party lawyer Silke Studzinsky stressed that significant outreach efforts still had to be undertaken or the apparent movement in the case would have little impact on victims.
“The publication on the homepage of the court does not reach many Cambodians. Only very few Cambodians have access to the internet,” she pointed out.
Declining to share details, court spokeswoman Yuko Maeda said further efforts to inform victims and civil parties of the new crime sites – thus allowing them to participate in the case – were under way.