Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Justice Denied for Cambodians

Last week, a U.N.-backed tribunal convicted Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, for war crimes in what was the first trial of a major Khmer Rouge figure. Many media reports portrayed the verdict in a positive light, but for survivors, victims and their families, there was nothing positive in this outcome.

An editorial in the International Herald Tribune (“Forgotten victims?” July 29) stated that while the sentence handed down by the tribunal may be disappointing, at least Duch was held to account for his war crimes. Unfortunately, “at least” isn’t good enough for me and for those who suffered from the murderous actions of the Khmer Rouge, especially after waiting 30 years for this verdict.

My mother and my late father both endured what are known as the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia. They lost their siblings, parents and home when Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge in April, 1975.

Somewhere between 1.7 and 2 million people — nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s population — were executed or died from disease, starvation and overwork. My family was forced to flee Cambodia and suffered in the poverty of refugee camps for almost a decade before making it to the United States, where we overcame tremendous obstacles in trying to rebuild our lives.

To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/opinion/03iht-edkuong.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a27

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