Friday, September 30, 2005

Former Khmer Rouge Official Says Cambodia Trials a Waste of Money

Monday, September 26, 2005

A second former prominent Khmer Rouge official in a week yesterday questioned the point of spending millions to prosecute aging and ailing former leaders of the movement, saying impoverished Cambodia has higher priorities. While agreeing a trial should eventually be held, addressing issues such as poverty, land grabbing and environmental problems should be higher priorities, Suong Sikoeun, an official at the foreign affairs ministry during the Democratic Kampuchea regime and one of the movement's so-called intellectuals, said in an interview at his home in Malai in Cambodia's remote northwest.

Sikoeun, now 70, said the principle of a trial was good, if only because it may highlight issues and prevent crimes against humanity which occurred under the Khmer Rouge from happening again. But he said it was frivolous at this point to throw tens of millions of dollars at history, when the factors which allowed the infamous regime to rise in the first place remained unaddressed.

"There are two points to holding a trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders; to find justice for the dead, and to prevent those killings and bad things from happening again," Sikoeun said.

"I support a trial ... However for myself, I think the trial should not be the first priority for Cambodia now. The first priority should be to solve the problems of the people not having enough food to eat, of droughts and floods, of land grabbing, etcetera."

Sikoeun, who held a senior position in the ultra-Maoist regime's foreign ministry in Phnom Penh between 1975 to 1978, has not been suggested as a candidate for trial.

According to the agreement between the UN and Cambodia, the international community was to pay US$43 million toward the proposed US$56.3 million budget for a trial of former top leaders of the Khmer Rouge, which ruled Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

Cambodia was supposed to cover the remaining US$13 million, but has since said it cannot afford more than US$1.5 million.

Its appeals for the international community to cover the shortfall has so far fallen on deaf ears, stalling progress toward an international-standard tribunal getting underway.

Advocates of a trial have said that justice for those responsible for the deaths of nearly 2 million Cambodians from starvation, disease, overwork, torture and execution under during the regime's rule will teach new generations of Cambodians accountability and is vital if the country is to move forward from its violent past.

They note that the movement's former leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998 and that many other potential candidates are elderly and suffer from ill health, making it vital to hold a trial sooner rather than later or risk not having one at all.

However Sikoeun argued that a trial would use up vital funds for a country in which the majority still survive on less than a dollar a day that could instead be used to address the problems that sent people such as himself in search of political alternatives in the first place and brought him to ultra-Maoism and the Khmer Rouge.

Genocide Museum Garden Sprouts Criticism

By William Sham and Prak Chan Thul
The Cambodia Daily
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Work is underway on an ornamental garden in the yard of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, just outside the former classrooms containing thousands of black-and-white photos of people killed by the Khmer Rouge and the metal beds where people were handcuffed and tortured to death.

Work started on the garden about 20 days ago.

Red and yellow tiles are being laid as walkways running round the garden, a mango tree stands at its center and flowers will be planted and benches placed beneath the tree’s shadow, laborer Preap Vannak said Monday, though he added that he was not entirely comfortable with the development.

“My opinion is we should leave the old things the same,” said Preap Vannak. “It’s our heritage. If we change it, it means we lie to the tourists” about what happened at Tuol Sleng, he said. “From generation to generation, the truth will dissolve.”

Chey Sopheara, the museum’s director, could not be reached for comment. Chuch Phoeurn, secretary of state of the Ministry of Culture, said the new garden is not a problem as long as it does not disturb the prison buildings or the simple graves situated along one of the garden’s edges.

The garden, which runs about 15 meters in each direction, will be “the beauty of the museum,” he said.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said that flowers should be planted to commemorate the dead, but any changes to the site should be though out and implemented very carefully.

“They should keep the original taste of the museum,” he said. “The original should be preserved,” he added.

As importantly, the road running past the museum should be paved, and the sewage system repaired to prevent the museum from flooding, Youk Chhang said.

Cambodia's Forgotten Ex-king

By Denis D. Gray
September 30, 2005

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Just as the twilight dims the gilded spires of the palace where his remains will rest, Norodom Sihanouk -- king, clown, prisoner, statesman, political escape artist -- is fading from a stage that he dominated for a half-century of periodic triumph amid unrelenting tragedy.

One of the hottest battlefields of the Cold War, Indochina, put his small, impoverished country on the world map. But so did this larger-than-life character -- lovable and detested, gifted and flawed -- who wrested Cambodian independence from France, survived wars and the Khmer Rouge holocaust and, for a time, juggled the superpowers to secure peace for his country.

Now 82, in and out of China for treatment of cancer, Sihanouk has ceased to be an international player, while at home, a young generation eager to plug into the globalizing present has all but relegated him to the history books.

Waning monarchy

The power of the monarchy, almost omnipotent under his rule, is waning fast, and although his accomplishments are firmly embedded in today's Cambodia, so, too, are his failures.
In Sihanouk's place on the throne, which he abdicated last year, sits King Sihamoni, a ballet dancer, lifelong bachelor and political novice. He's an unlikely match for wily strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen, despite being coached by the wiliest of them all — his father, Sihanouk.

It is Hun Sen, peasant-born and a former Khmer Rouge officer, who has replaced Sihanouk, once regarded as semi-divine, at center stage. Democratically elected but an autocratic figure, Hun Sen indicates that he calls the shots at the palace, and nobody dares challenge him.

Beneath flowery, formal words runs an underlying tension and an occasional exchange of public barbs between the two men, with Sihanouk lamenting the state of affairs in Cambodia.

Sihanouk, a prolific writer, has his own Web log, on which he posts sharp opinions on what he considers the deplorable state of Cambodian society and politics, highlighting corruption, deforestation and injustice. As often as not, he blames Hun Sen, in a diplomatically indirect manner that does little to disguise his target.

Among the older generation, especially in the countryside, Sihanouk is still a star who reminds them of quieter, simpler times before the Indochina war.

"I pray in front of his portrait every day for him to be well, to have a long life, because he is so generous to his people," said Ke Khat, a 66-year-old villager.

Each night, she lights incense sticks before dusty posters of Sihanouk and Queen Monineath hanging above her hard bamboo bed.

She and her neighbors at Nikum Preah Kosamak, 50 miles north of Phnom Penh, remember how Sihanouk gave their village aid from his own money, including Ke Khat's house. They recall how Sihanouk, distributing gifts, sobbed when, after returning from his long exile in 1991, he told them how much he had missed "his children."

But the predicament of Cambodia today, some critics say, is in some measure the fault of Sihanouk himself, who had decades and vast powers to make critically needed changes but did not.

Australian historian Milton Osborne said Sihanouk had little interest in reshaping Cambodia's semifeudal institutions. This neglect helped bring on the terrible ultrarevolution of the Khmer Rouge and allowed the ills of Sihanouk's reign to persist into 2005 — rampant corruption, a greedy elite, a dangerous gap between rich and poor.

Although nearly half of Cambodians exist on $1 a day or less, foreign aid and domestic resources are siphoned off into the pockets of the powerful, with few legal means available to stop it.

Opulent villas of the rich, with new sport utility vehicles in the driveways, sprout in Phnom Penh while poverty, natural disasters and AIDS stalk the have-nots in the slums and villages.

Under Sihanouk, a one-man show from his ascension in 1941 until his ouster in a 1970 coup, popular and democratic institutions could not emerge and reformists weren't allowed to flourish.

"His greatest fault was never to let anyone else but himself give an opinion. He was the classic tree under which nothing could grow. Sihanouk was not Cambodia, but he thought he was," said Mr. Osborne, author of a critical biography, "Sihanouk, Prince of Light, Prince of Darkness."

"Perhaps princes, kings never admit their mistakes and thus fail to teach the coming generations to avoid their mistakes," said Lao Mong Hay, a lawyer and human rights advocate who has tracked Sihanouk's career for decades. "We have not learned the lessons of the past."

Cambodians who know their history still credit Sihanouk with giving birth to the modern nation by peacefully cutting the colonial yoke of France and, for a time, managing to keep the firestorms of Indochina at bay by playing China, the United States and the Soviet Union against one another.

But by the late 1960s, he was losing control at home and abroad.

Increasingly autocratic, he alienated conservatives and persecuted leftists who, like their leader-to-be Pol Pot, were fleeing into the jungles to form the Khmer Rouge.

Sihanouk's ouster by pro-U.S. rightists in a 1970 coup was welcomed by Washington because it removed a geopolitical handicap that it faced in fighting the communists in neighboring Vietnam. It precipitated a savage war between the new, U.S.-backed government and the Khmer Rouge. Five years later, the communist ultras marched into the capital to begin their reign of terror.

His pride deeply wounded, the exiled Sihanouk had sided with the Khmer Rouge, a move some critics say implicates him in the deaths of at least 1.7 million of his countrymen through executions, disease and slave labor.

"History will prove that he shares some of the responsibility for the evils that befell Cambodia," Lao Mong Hay said.

All the same, he ended up being imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge, but was freed. By 1979, the great survivor was back in the limelight, leading a coalition of guerrillas against the Vietnamese troops who had invaded Cambodia to topple Pol Pot and set up a pro-Hanoi regime in Phnom Penh.

Twelve years later, with peace finally attained, he returned home from an exile spent mostly in China, as the United Nations tried to stabilize Cambodia and supervise elections. Seen as a unifying force, Sihanouk was crowned as monarch for the second time.

But he no longer held center stage.

Time passed by

"I think he's a pretty unhappy person," Mr. Osborne said. "I think he had high hopes that once the wars and United Nations peacekeeping mission ended, he would again become a significant player, but this did not happen."

In his youth, the charismatic and prodigiously energetic Sihanouk fielded a palace soccer team, composed music, jested with world leaders and led a jazz band, playing saxophone and clarinet at all-night parties.

But Sihanouk's time has passed.

"The new king doesn't like parties and singing," said Nou Thearoth, a guide at one of the last vestiges of the old Cambodia, the Royal Palace.

She recounts that last year, before heading to Beijing again, Sihanouk staged one of his famous birthday bashes, taking the microphone to sing and dancing with the palace staff.

The spirited mood has vanished. During the day, knots of sweating tourists visit. When dusk falls, seven old Brahmin priests, a half-dozen North Korean bodyguards and a few servants remain with Sihanouk's royal successor in the vast compound.

"He will be buried there," the guide said, pointing to a moundlike Buddhist shrine in a tranquil, tree-shaded courtyard. According to his wishes, Sihanouk's ashes are to be mingled with those of his most-loved child, Kantha Bopha, a daughter who died of leukemia at age 4.

Pol Pot menu too much to swallow in Cambodia

Source: Reuters
By Ek Madra
PHNOM PENH, Sept 30 (Reuters) - A new Cambodian cafe is offering diners a slice of life under the Khmer Rouge, with a menu featuring rice-water and leaves, and waitresses dressed in the black fatigues worn by Pol Pot's ultra-Maoist guerrillas.

Newly opened across the road from Phnom Penh's notorious Tuol Sleng "S-21" Khmer Rouge interrogation and torture centre, the cafe is meant to remind Cambodians of the 1975-1979 genocide in which an estimated 1.7 million people died.

But the set "theme menu" of salted rice-water, followed by corn mixed with water and leaves, and dove eggs and tea at $6 a time is proving too much to swallow for many visitors.
"Our grandfather and other relatives lost their lives under Pol Pot's regime," said 17-year-old manager Hakpry Agnchealy, whose brother owns the business. "This is more than just a restaurant. It is to remind us of those who died."
"We opened two weeks ago, but have only had two Europeans coming here to eat. We don't know how much longer we can go," she said.
Faithful to the Khmer Rouge era, when many victims starved to death after a disastrous attempt to transform the country into a peasant utopia, the waitresses are barefoot and clad in the black pyjamas and red-white scarves of the guerrillas.
Speakers blare out tunes celebrating the 1975 toppling of U.S.-backed president General Lon Nol and the walls are adorned with the baskets, hoes and spades Pol Pot hoped would power his jungle-clad south-east Asian homeland to communist prosperity.
Recognising that many tourists might not be able to stomach such a close brush with the Killing Fields, the "Khmer Rouge Experience Cafe" is also promoting itself to those wishing to shed a few pounds.
"It's good for me to slim down," said Tan, a 40-year-old Malaysian visitor.
For some who survived Pol Pot's rule, the cafe served up too many chilling reminders of one of 20th century history's darkest chapters.
"My mother visited me here once, saw the Khmer Rouge style and has never come back again," Hakpry Agnchealy said.

Former Khmer Rouge Recounts Dark Past

The Cambodia Daily
Thet Sambath
Friday, January 7, 2005
Banan District, Battambang province-Though the stench of blood still makesSuy Vith want to vomit, he has come to terms with his past and thethousands of people his small unit of Khmer Rouge comrades executed in themid-1970s.
In a recent candid interview at his home in Battambang province, Suy Vith,49, a former peasant revolutionary told how he wasn't born a killer, buthis choice was simple: Kill for the regime or be killed.
There was a lot of killing in Pailin in the early days of the Khmer Rouge"liberation" in 1975, Suy Vith recounted.
"I was angry at the Khmer Rouge at the beginning, but I had no choice so Ichose the Khmer Rouge movement," he said.
At the age of 19, Suy Vith earned a place with the Khmer Rouge after theyexecuted his parents in 1973 in Samlot district on suspicion of spying forthe Lon Nol military government.
He was handed an old automatic rifle, and though he was not shown how touse it, Suy Vith still remembers clearly the truckloads of men, women andchildren who died after the weapon was placed in his hands
."When I grew up I never felt that I would become a killer. But the 1975regime made me follow this cruel way," said Suy Vith who lives anunassuming life with his wife and four children, eking out a living as alaborer.
"I feel sorry for the people that my colleagues and I killed. But we areinnocent people and not as cruel as they accuse us. We were forced tokill...and I had to choose between my life and death."
Suy Vith made his choice one evening in April 1975. A commander named Ta Po told Suy Vith and his unit of around a dozen youthsthat 35 people had been captured at Kbal Peay, in the Bor Taing Suo area ofPailin, as they tried to flee into Thailand.
"We have work to do, let us prepare to accept the 35 people," shoutedComrade Uncle Po to Suy Vith and others as the 35 terrified people wereunloaded from a military truck around midnight.
Suy Vith remembered that there were children among the group. Fifteen of the group were put on a truck to Phnom Russei, a hill some 10 kmfrom Pailin town. When the truck stopped the men, women and children wereunloaded.
"We just gave a signal among ourselves and then we opened fire at themaltogether. I saw them all fall down in the same place." he said. After themassacre, a second group of Khmer Rouge were sent to make sure the job wasdone properly. Each body was inspected to verify all were killed.
"If that group knew that some people were not killed we would have had aproblem,"Suy Vith said, adding that the remaining 20 people were taken to asecond location by his comrades and killed in the same manner.
As the first months of the Khmer Rouge "liberation" progressed, so did thekilling.
Suy Vith and his unit were relocated in late April or early May to atemporary base in Trapaing Kes on National Route 10 between Pailin andBattambang town.
Several units were stationed there, and it was their duty to carry out theexecution of people sent by truck from Pailin.
"When they were dropped from the military trucks, we killed themimmediately. We did not want them to stay longer because they might runaway. At this place, my colleagues and I killed at least 600, and notincluding those killed at other places near by our base.
"I just turned my M-16 [rifle] on to full automatic and sprayed them...Thetrees, leaves and grass were full of blood. It was completely red withblood.
"In one group alone, Suy Vith and a detachment of about 10 other communistcadre cut down a group of some 200 men, women and children.
"I saw people's faces were full of worry, and I thought they know theywould be killed."As they stood in rows, some turned their faces not to look at us.Sometimes we killed them when they were sitting down together.
"Suy Vith said the killing was overseen by Comrade Uncle Morn who explainedhow the killing should be carried out by each unit: "One group for killing,one group for guarding and one to prevent anyone from escaping from thekilling field."
At the end of their day's work, the execution units gathered together toeat, though Suy Vith said that sometimes he didn't have an appetite. He wasnot used to all the killing and the blood__ the stench made him want to besick.
"After a few months of killing I could eat as well as normal. But sometimesthe smell of blood still makes me want to vomit," he said. "
If I did not follow my commander's orders I would be killed as well. So tofind a way to survive I had to carry out what I was ordered to do."Owing to a mix of shame and fear, Suy Vith has tried to keep his identityhidden and his bloody past deeply buried.
Suy Vith left the Khmer Rouge after the ousting of the regime 26 years agotoday, on Jan 7, 1979.
But even his fear of people finding out the truth about his bloody past wasnot enough to keep him from defiling the mass graves of his victims insearch of gold, precious stones and other treasures buried with the dead.
In 1984, he led a group of 30 people back to the graves in Pailin to digamong the bones. They found necklaces, earrings, gold, gems and diamondsamong the remains. Many were still clad in Lon Nol military uniforms.
The grave robbery was interrupted by State of Cambodia troops who warnedthat the area was dangerous, and so they were forced to stop their digearly. But when they returned the next day, the government troops had takeneverything, Suy Vith remembered.
Suy Vith said he would testify in a long-awaited Khmer Rouge tribunal butwould need assurances for his protection and that he would not be jailed.
A trial might even help Suy Vith answer his one nagging question: "Why wekill people in the forest?" he said.
Suy Vith is short on remorse, instead blaming his past actions, presentcondition and future events on karma.
"I go to the pagoda sometimes and I give food for my dead mother andfather. I pray for good things for them, but I never pray for those Ikilled or ask for pardon," he said.
"This is life. I killed people and I feel that I will be killed by peoplewhen I am reborn in my next life. This is karma."

Donors Open Pockets for a Cambodian Museum

January 7, 2005
CHICAGO - As its name suggests, the recently opened Cambodian AmericanHeritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial is aimed at memorializing themore than 2 million Cambodians who were murdered during the brutal reign ofthe Khmer Rouge - and documents the stories of those who fled to America.
Established by Cambodian refugees, the new institution memorializes agenocide perpetrated three decades after the Holocaust and a continent awayfrom the gas chambers of Europe. But most of the funding for the $1.5million project - the first such memorial in the United States - came fromJewish donors in Chicago, where the museum and memorial are located.
"I would say that about 70% of the dollars for the museum came from theJewish community," said Kompha Seth, executive director of the CambodianAssociation of Illinois.
Located on West Lawrence Avenue near Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, near aGreek bakery, a Lebanese restaurant and a slew of burrito shops, the museumis housed in a building that was purchased with a kick-off grant from aJewish donor.
"I said I only had $300 in the bank," Seth said. "And a Jewish donor gaveme a $5,000 challenge grant that started the building fund, and within twoweeks, we had $30,000. And then we bought the building.
"At the museum, which opened this past October, there is a plaque thatrecognizes the contributions of several Jewish family foundations,including the Polk Brothers Foundation, the Crown Family, the Richard H.Driehaus Foundation, the Pritzker-Cousins Foundation, the LohengrinFoundation and the Alvin H. Baum Foundation.
Museum officials describe Jewish support for the institution as theoutgrowth of a longtime relationship between the two communities in Chicagoand the ability of Jewish donors and foundations to relate to the sufferingof the Cambodians.
"In the Jewish community, we need to be supportive in any way we can oforganizations and peoples who have suffered in ways similar to theHolocaust, who suffered as our people suffered," said Nikki Will Stein,executive director of the Polk Brothers Foundation, which has given$250,000 to the memorial and museum. The Polks were Jewish immigrants toChicago, and the foundation has been funding Cambodian family programssince 1995.
The board of the Polk Brothers Foundation was attracted in part by theopportunity to help build the first such memorial in America to Cambodianvictims, Stein said. "People like the notion that they're helping to createa first in this country." A second memorial has since opened in Seattle.
Much of the support from Jewish individuals has been anonymous, accordingto Seth.
"Some of the Jewish people want to keep a low profile," he said. "Theydon't want to show thir names. It's amazing."
"They say, "Don't give me awards.' They don't want to be recognized."
What the Jewish donors have recognized, though, is the horror of genocideand the importance of rebuilding a community in its aftermath.
From 1975 to 1979, about 2.5 million Cambodians - out of a population ofslightly more than 7 million - were murdered by the Communist Khmer Rougeregime. Half of the dead were children, and about half were involved ineducation as teachers, students and clergy.
"Millions of people were forced to move from the cities to the fields, aspart of the Communist idea of an agrarian utopia," said Savouth Chhorm, anemployee at the museum who came to the United States as a child refugee.Starvation in Cambodia was common. For four years, most people went withoutmedical care or schooling. In the aftermath, Cambodian refugees were leftwith nothing - no homes, no identity papers and very little hope.
Like the Jewish community after the Holocaust, the Cambodian community hadto rebuild its cultural and educational structures. It continues tostruggle in its efforts to teach Cambodian language, music and dance to theyoung. So, officials said, the new museum attempts to balance the need toremember the dead with a commitment to rebuilding a people and educatingthe next generation. It is a difficult mission, reflected in the sight ofrecent photos of Cambodian children displayed just feet away from torturedevices and photographs of hundreds of skulls piled next to thousands ofbones.
In a separate room, 80 glass panels stand near one another. Each represents25,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge.Until this year, there was no Cambodian genocide memorial in the
UnitedStates. "This project is controversial because some want to forget," Sethsaid. "They don't want to share the pain. And others want to express it."
The museum is an early success. "Right now there are so many visitors thatwe are overwhelmed," Seth said.
Among those who understand the need for the project, according to Seth, areJewish donors and organizations. "I say, the Cambodians lost so much - andit left a big hole and a scar in the heart," he said. "When we say 2.5million lives lost - mostly children, educators, and clergy - theyunderstand. They've been through it."
The relationship has been going on "for about 30 years" and "it keepsgrowing," Seth said.
The two communities have worked together on events like "Children of theHolocaust, Children of the Killing Fields," held in the year 2000 andco-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and theCambodian Association of Illinois.
The relationship began with immigration assistance, leaders of both groupssaid.
"Most of the Cambodians in Chicago," Stein said, "were resettled herethrough the Jewish Federation, which had learned resettling skills throughits work with Soviet Jews. I'm very proud that what the Jewish Federationhas learned with Soviet Jews can be replayed with other groups,
"For Cambodian leaders, the ties to the Jewish community are long lastingand deeply moving, even if not widely known.
To demonstrate the point, during a recent interview at Chicago's Cambodiancenter, Seth produced a yellowed document from 1980 - the first form theHebrew Immigrant Aid Society filed on behalf of the Cambodians living inthe city.
The Jewish community in Chicago "coordinated relief efforts" and laterhelped Cambodians establish their first mutual assistance society, Sethsaid. Today, organizations in the two communities approach each othereasily and frequently.
"Like most of our relationships, the Cambodian Association reached out tous," said Brian Gladstein, director of community initiatives at the JewishCouncil on Urban Affairs, also in Chicago.
"Cambodians are the poorest Asian community in Chicago," Gladstein said."So there are a substantial group of folks feeling the effects of povertyand the effects of genocide." He added: "We help them think through theirstrategies. We helped them build a phone book, get the memorial up and themuseum up, and we're helping with affordable housing and immigrant housing."
Other sources of support include Jewish politicians who have spokenpublicly about the importance of a memorial, Seth said, and ordinarycitizens who participated in the Walk to Remember, which re-createdCambodian refugees' arduous walk to freedom.
In a video of the event, a young Jewish woman says she is walking becauseas a Jew, she feels an obligation to learn about genocide that took placein her lifetime.
"It's amazing," Seth said of the Jewish support for the Cambodians inChicago and their causes. "And I don't know how to say thank you, but I'mso grateful."

`Killing Fields' drama revisits Cambodia of 1970s to mark Khmer Rouge's ouster

Associated Press Writer
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - One man is executed for stealingsalt. Another is killed for dishonoring the "revolutionary" codeof conduct banning romance, and the militia chief who carried outthe killing then rapes and murders the dead man's fiancee and walksaway laughing.
The scenes depicting the "killing fields" revisit Cambodiaunder Khmer Rouge rule in a play performed by some 80 fine artsstudents to mark the radical movement's ouster from power 26 yearsago.
Being staged Friday - the day Vietnam's invading army toppled theregime in 1979 - the drama provides a chilling flashback about thegenocide that the actors, ages 13 to 25, say is a lesson about theircountry's darkest period.
"Young people can never imagine how painful their parents'experience was. This show can also help them renounce violence,"said Meth Vannry, a 22-year-old student playing a Khmer Rougemilitia chief.
The Khmer Rouge's policies led to the death of some 1.7 millionpeople from starvation, disease, overwork and execution in 1975-79.Several of the movement's leaders are still alive, but none has beenbrought to trial.
The show - which has no title- focuses on the elements of theirideological madness: abolishing money and religion, closing schools,forbidding home cooking, separating men from women, brainwashingchildren to beat their parents and killing intellectuals - all inthe name of building a pure communist system.
In a scene about summary execution, a Khmer Rouge chief has a mankilled for stealing salt, a precious item then forbidden to be keptin households. The victim begs for mercy, but a knife-wieldingexecutioner grabs him by the collar and stabs him to death.
Watching the scenes of killing "is quite a chill for me," saidperforming arts professor Chen Neak, who at 61 is old enough toremember the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge. The challenge for hisstudents is to replicate the insanity they only heard about.
"I have to make people fear me, hate me," Vannry said. "Butit's very difficult to do it right, to concentrate on how to actlike a wild man."
Inside a rundown room typical of the cashed-strapped Cambodianschool system, Chen Neak became angry when the rehearsing performersfell short of his expectation.
"More tension, more fear! That's what the atmosphere in PolPot's era was like!" he yelled, gesturing impatiently.
Khun Vuthy, 39, one of the show's original developers, said theschool stages a similar drama every year - the theme this time isthe deception the Khmer Rouge used to get rid of intellectuals. Tensof thousands of teachers, doctors and judges are believed to havedied, leaving Cambodia with a lack of human capital even today.
In one scene, a Khmer Rouge cadre asks intellectuals at apropaganda meeting to volunteer their knowledge for building aclassless communist society. A professor steps forward, followed bya female doctor, a university student and a senior army officer inthe U.S.-backed Lon Nol regime. All are exterminated later.
The Khmer Rouge used to boast of having high moral standardsregarding relations between men and women. But the drama alsoreveals their hypocrisy.
Two students portray a couple engaged to be married who areseparated into male and female labor camps. One day, the man iscaught sneaking out to visit his sick girlfriend.
The Khmer Rouge militia chief played by Vannry executes the manwith a bayonet for "betraying the revolutionary moral." He thenrapes the woman before taking her life with the same weapon.
In the final episode, Vannry's character is shot in the leg as heflees approaching Vietnamese troops who - though never seen in theplay - eventually ousted the Khmer Rouge.

Sowing the Killing Fields

The Sunday Star-Ledger
December 19, 2004
In 1975, the victorious Khmer Rouge army entered the Cambodia Capital ofPhnom Penh and promptly started slaughtering the supporters of thedefeated Lon Nol regime and their families. The Khmer Rouge then emptiedthe cities and embarked on a unrelenting campaign of agrarian reform andgenocide that left 1.7 million Cambodians dead by 1979, before Vietnamesearmy intervened.

In his anthropological study, "Why Did They Kill? Cambodia in the Shadowof Genocide" (University of California Press, $22), Alexander Laban Hintonexplores the propaganda and cultural forces used by the Khmer Rouge andits ruthless leaders, Pol Pot, to nurture and killers dehumanize theirvictims.
In his important and comprehension book, Hinton analyzed the psychologicaltraining that killers received and their desensitization toward thekilling. The horrific mechanics of genocide and murder are outlined inHinton's riveting examination of the infamous interrogation center at TuolSleng. At the center, disgraced Khmer Rouge cadres were tortured formonths and forced to write extensive confessions before their executions,showing the grim process of how comrades were turned into traitors andnonhumans.
Hinton, 41, was raised in Palo Alto, Calif., and received his Ph.D. inanthropology from Emory University in Atlanta. He is an associateprofessor of anthropology at Rutgers University and lives in Glen Ridgewith his wife and two children. Hinton spoke with freelance writer DylanFoley by telephone.
Q. How did you choose this subject?
A. I was interested in Buddhism from traveling in Southeast Asia. When Ifirst went to study in Cambodia in 1992, the country was still feeling theeffects of 25 years of war. There was little electricity in the maincities, and when you went into the countryside, the electricity was mainlycar batteries. Cambodians would ask me, "How did this happen? How could wekill each other?" Their questions became my questions.
Q. Why has the academic discipline of anthropology lagged behind instudying genocide?
A. As an anthropologist, having a sense of moral relativism and suspendingjudgment is part of the training. Traditionally, anthropologists tend tostudy smaller groups if people. They may be working with in a smallvillage in a country where political violence is taking place. Theanthropologist might study the effect of the violence on the local level.
Q. How would you describe the Cambodian genocide?
A. Cambodia is often called an "auto-genocide" (suggesting that Cambodianskilled their fellow citizens). But that is false. The Khmer Rouge wipedout ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese, the Muslim Cham people and Buddhist monks.They used an ideological calculus that centers around consciousness. PolPot said that someone with a "regressive" consciousness "was no longer oneof us." They were to be annihilated or destroyed. Society was inverted andrural farmers were put over urban dwellers, and the poor were put over therich. A man with a peasant background would be reported as moreprogressive, more pure. A doctor or teacher would be branded as pollutedor regressive. Anyone could regress at any time, and could be discarded(killed). The Khmer Rouge constructed differences to make their victimsnonhuman.
The Khmer Rouge pushed the urban population into the countryside. In1975, Phnom Penh had swollen to three million people, including refugees.From 1975 to 1979, there were only 20,000 people in Phnom Penh. Peopleforced into countryside were labeled "new" people and at great risk to bekilled. The peasants were labeled "old" people.
Q. At least 14,000 people were killed at Tuol Sleng, an infamousinterrogation center. How were the tortures created?
A. To get the tortures to hurt people, they had to dehumanize theirvictims. Through various degrading acts and inhuman conditions, thevictims stopped resembling human beings. In the Khmer Rouge broadcasts,the victims had been called "microbes," and during their imprisonment,they literally picked up parasites and skin diseases. Prisoners werestripped of their names and given numbers. They were referred to bydehumanizing pronoun like "it." Tuol Sleng was very stressful for thetorturers, as well. It was always possible that they would be betrayed.
Q. What was the importance of confessions that were pulled out undertorture and repeatedly rewritten before the victims' executions?
A. The Khmer Rouge maintained that they never made mistakes and they wereall-knowing. Soon the agricultural collectivization collapsed and theeconomy was a complete disaster. Since the leadership never made mistakes,they started looking for signs of subversion. As the economic goals werenot met, they started looking for enemies. The confession acted as arecord of how a person went from being a fellow cadre to an enemy.Evidence was constructed of CIA spots and sabotage, which created a senseof certainly. Victims would implicate to things of traitors. Undertorture, they would give up the names of dozens of loyal cadres. I've seenconfessions with 100 names listed on them.
Q. Could you describe interviewing Lor, the guard at Tuol Sleng whoprobably killed more than 2,000 men, women and children?
A. I imagined a callow, savage man, but when I met him, he seemed like anyother person. He was very polite and smile broadly when we met for thefirst time. When he shook my hand, there was this strange moment oftouching the hand that had done so many unspeakable things. Lor hasreturned to farming, but he has been affected by what he did. He is analcoholic and does not dream at night. What I saw in my interviews is thatthere are the traits of both victims and perpetrators in all of us. Wehave the potential to do both horrible things and good things.
Q. What are some of the conditions that foster genocide and how cangenocide be curbed?
A. There is a cluster of important facts. There must be a situation ofenormous socioeconomic upheaval, a pre-existing social division in thecountry and political group with a radical idea of socially engineeringthe country. When the structures of meaning are disrupted in a country,people are willing to look for a new source of meaning. There are also hasto be a political leadership willing to foment an ideology of hate anddehumanize certain parts of the population.The international response plays a big part in stopping genocide. Rightnow, Sudan is a huge mess. Foreign countries could have a crucial role instopping the situation now, but they are unwilling to do so.
From the book
Chilling words from a genocide killer:When asked after the fact why they had committed such abuses during (theKhmer Rouge period), many former Khmer Rouge cadres, like genocidalperpetrators all over the world, have claimed that they were just"following orders." Lor invoke his excuse to explain why he had killed"one or two people." Likewise, when asked what he would say if he met oneof his former prisoners on the street, Lor responded, "I would tell them,'Don't be angry with me. When I worked at that place (the interrogationcenter), I had to obey the orders. I am not mean and savage. I didn't doanything to anyone. If they had me to arrest someone, I'd go and arrestthat person. If they order me to do something, I would do it.'" It isprecisely this type of response that victims find so unsatisfying, sinceit absolves the perpetrator of responsibility and the need to personallyexpress remorse.

No Money Slated for KR Trial in 2005 Budget

The Cambodia DailyFriday,
December 24, 2004
By Yun Samean
Notably absent from the 2005 national budget, approved by the NationalAssembly on Wednesday, were provisions for a long awaited Khmer Rougetribunal, prompting one opposition parliamentarian to question thegovernment's commitment to prosecuting aging ex-Khmer Rouge leaders.
A final $56.3 million price tag for the UN-backed tribunal was establishedearlier this month, with the government announcing it would shoulder$13million.
But the Assembly's Finance and Banking Commission Chairman Cheam Yeap saidThursday that funds were not set aside for the tribunal in the 2005 budgetbecause the UN has not established a date for the trials to start.
"There is no specific schedule from the UN to prosecute the Khmer Rougeyet. That is why we do not record the budget for the prosecution," he said.
Lawmakers on Wednesday gave their final approval to allow the government tospend $792 million next year, up $40 million from the 2004 budget.
A reserve of $300 million is included in the 2005 national budget, whichwill be used in case of natural disasters or in the event of other urgentexpenditures, Cheam Yeap said.
Though the tribunal costs are not included in the national budget, thegovernment can use some of those reserve funds to pay for trials if the UNsets a start date, he said.
Opposition lawmaker Keo Remy charged that the government may put thetribunal on hold, citing lack of funds.
"It is clear the government does not want to prosecute the Khmer Rougeleaders," he said Thursday. "The government should make clear in the budgethow much money the government will spend.... to prosecute the Khmer Rouge.
"Calls to Sean Visoth, the secretary-general for the government's tribunaltask force, were unsuccessful Thursday.

Ex- Rebels Turned Soldiers Say Pay Is Docked

The Cambodia DailyWednesday, December 22, 2004
By Lor Chandara and Wency Leung
Anlong Veng District, Oddar Meanchey Province- While Yean Yoeun said his life is much easier now during peacetime than wehn he was a soldier fighting with the Khmer Rouge, the rebel-turned RCAF officer said earning enough money to survive is now a constant challenge.
"Being an RCAF soldier is much easier because there's no more fighting like before," the 38 year-old said earlier this month. "During the Khmer Rouge time, we had food supplies so we didn't worry about food...... Now we have to work on our own to feed ourselves."
Yea Yoeun, who abandoned the Khmer Rouge when Anlong Veng fell to the government in 1998, said his current financial worries are exacerbated by his RCAF superiors who routinely take a 30 percent cut of his monthly salary.
After payroll deductions, he said, he only receives $17.50 of his $25 per month. He did not know what the deductions were for.
In their tiny, smoke-filled wooden hut on the outskirts of Anlong Veng town, Yea Yoeun's wife and children weave bamboo shingles on the dirt floor and sell them at 250 riel each to supplement the soldier's modest income.
"The majority of the people here are not so well off," said former Khmer Rouge medic Seang Huot, who also is now an RCAF soldier for Division 43.
The poor living conditions of residents here are made worse by corrupt officials who take advantage of the destitute, he said.
Seang Huot, 45, said his superiors deduct more than 50 percent of his monthly pay.
"They deduct every month," he said. "They deduct for Kathen [Buddhist ceremonies], they deduct for fundraising, and for relief. They deduct this money from poor soldiers.
"Out of his $20 per month RCAF salary, he said, he receives only $7.50 to $10. "I don't know where the money goes," Seang Huot said. "If we complain, we get in trouble."
Co-Minister of Defense Tea Banh last week denied his soldiers' claims of unofficial pay cuts, adding that such deductions were illegal.
"It is not true that we deducted one's salary. The one[s] who told you so, they must be bad liars," Tea Banh said. "We give them all [their] money ever single month. Otherwise, people will react."
Hok Sovann, commander of Oddar Meanchey province's RCAF military sub-region, however, acknowledged that his officers do deduct money from soldier's salaries.
But, he said, such pay cuts were occasional and only 1,000 riel is taken from each soldier at a time.
"The money just goes to the military funds" used for expenses such as soldier funerals, he said Tuesday.
Criticizing his troops for complaining, he added: "Why don't Anlong Veng soldiers make donations?"

Party Politic

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 11:22 AM
Sunday NYTimes Magazine
V ietnamese? Thai? Laotian? Cambodian? What's the difference?

''Come in, I tell you,'' His Excellency Roland Eng, Cambodian ambassador to the United States said, welcoming me into the small kitchen of his spacious home (in New York, a mansion) a block from his embassy in the Rock Creek Park section of Washington. He and his cook, Puttry Tan, were preparing another of his well-known and sort-of-monthly Khmer brunches, in which this slight, amiable gentleman, 47, practices what he calls ''noodle diplomacy.''
''Running an embassy in D.C. is like running a full-time catering firm -- so many visitors!'' he said. The ambassador -- who prefers to be called Roland -- entertains at least once a week, frequently more. ''One of the tricks of Washington is to be informal within formal,'' he said as we headed into his dining room, where the table was set for 20. ''We have only one dish: noodles. Well, two: noodles with soup and noodles without soup.''

Back in the kitchen, Puttry stirred a vat of simmering broth. ''This is how we flavor the stock,'' Roland said, gesturing to the 10-gallon caldron of pork bones and water. ''First, you bring this to a hard boil, then lower the heat and skim and skim and skim, then add the seasonings.'' He fished out a bundle of jicama, dried shrimp and squid, onions, garlic, cilantro stems (at last, a use for those little buggers!), ginger, preserved cabbage and peppercorns, all wrapped in cheesecloth. ''For our Muslim guests, we use chicken broth,'' he said, pointing out a two-gallon pot containing a split chicken barely abubble. ''That's all there is to it.''
Well, not quite. His six-burner range was surrounded by bowls and bowls of garnishes -- soy, hoisin, and Chinese hot sauces; more preserved cabbage; chopped garlic fried in oil; a mixture of chopped scallions, parsley and cilantro; bean sprouts; boiled shrimp and calamari; sauteed ground pork; and thinly sliced pork heart, each to be spooned on top of boiled rice noodles. Once the shopping and chopping are done -- no small matter -- the assembly is quick and enjoyable. And you can feed hundreds on the cheap.

There are as many variations on Cambodian rice-noodle dishes as there are stars in a clear night sky. This one, Roland said, is called ku theo Phnom Penh, and is the most famous among them. In Cambodia, noodles are served only in the morning. Noodles for brunch is Roland's nod to America.
Unfailingly polite, the ambassador urged me 10 or 12 times to ''Come, sit down, make yourself comfortable'' and offered me practically everything in the house -- not just coffee and tea and juice and Armagnac and cigars and glistening slices of honeydew, but duck saucisson that had just arrived from Paris, arranged around little cheese cubes on a silver salver. He ushered me into his sunny living room lined with bookshelves and Cambodian silk, and on the way, just as I was coming to the conclusion that he was much too pleasant and soft-spoken to be effective with the roiling, colliding planets outside, we came upon a picture of a young man, stripped to the waist, wielding an enormous M-16 and looking eerily like a Cambodian Rambo. After a double take, I realized the young warrior was Roland; but it was a tough fit with the gentle man in front of me dressed urbanely in a dark blue silk shirt and black trousers.

''I was a jungle fighter for 10 years,'' he said. ''Against the Khmer Rouge, and against the Vietnamese. The Khmer Rouge killed 20 percent of our people -- nearly two million. I went through three forms of Communism -- Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese. We had portraits on our wall -- first Lenin, replaced by Mao, replaced by Ho Chi Minh.''
When Roland was 11, in 1968, he was sent to France and lived with a family for a year. When he tried to return to Cambodia, he wasn't permitted. ''I was raised by a French family in Aix-en-Provence,'' he said, ''but life was meaningless not knowing what had happened to my family.'' When he returned, 16 years later, he discovered that his family -- five sisters, two brothers and his parents -- had all been killed by the Khmer Rouge. He picked up a silver mango from a tray of silver fruit and held it as he talked. His father, he said, ''was tortured. His picture is in the Holocaust Museum, but I haven't seen it. I don't want to visit the Holocaust Museum in Cambodia, any Holocaust Museum.'' Roland eventually went to work for Prince Sihanouk, then became one of the youngest members of Parliament.
He began having noodle brunches because he found that in Washington ambassadors of smaller countries can get lost in the shuffle. ''When I had formal dinners, some people wouldn't show up,'' he said. ''In a senator's or congressman's office, you may get only 10 minutes. But on Saturday or Sunday afternoon, everyone informal, in jeans and T-shirts, invitations by e-mail only, everybody comes and stays one or two hours. We have a bill on textiles we are concerned about, and at noodle brunch, it's easier to talk about it.'' After he leaves his post at the end of this month, Roland plans to return to Cambodia and organize culinary tours. ''I will teach them how to cook!'' he said.

Cars pulled up. Roland was invariably hugged. When there were 10 or 15 of us, the gathering so diverse it looked like Kofi Annan's waiting room, he ushered us to the table. Roland and Puttry passed bowls with the long thin noodles, soup, seafood, pork and more garnishes (you have to own a bowl factory to give this party). We went at everything in a frenzy of chopsticks and spoons, the noodles' fragrance floating across the room, delicate and all over the Southeast Asian map. It was a lesson in balance -- spicy but not hot (unless you poured on the appropriate sauce), and so warming and relaxed that conversation poured from even the shyest. Informal within formal -- noodle diplomacy in action. Everyone slurped, adding the sauces or not, gingerly tossing in more bean sprouts for crackle. It was the kind of gathering where every other person seemed to say, ''So I said to the prime minister, I said. . . . ''
Several hours later the party tapered off. On my way out, Roland remembered: ''Thai is sweeter and spicier; Vietnamese uses a lot of fish sauce; Laotian has a lot of sticky rice. Cambodian is based on kroeung, the Khmer word for 'spices' '' -- like rhizome (similar to ginger), prahok (preserved fish), curry leaves, lemongrass and dried lilies -- ''but I don't have time to go into that now.'' He smiled as we shook hands. Which means I'll just have to go on one of his guided tours and find out.

Ambassador Roland Eng's Khmer Noodles

For the broth and pork:
3 pounds pork leg bones
1/4 of a large jicama
1 head garlic, cut in half
1 onion, quartered
1/2 cup dried shrimp
1 dried squid
2 tablespoons preserved cabbage
12-inch piece ginger, sliced
1 tablespoon white peppercorns Handful of cilantro stems
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 pounds pork (preferably heart and tongue, but pork loin cut into two pieces also works well).
For garnish:
5 tablespoons plus
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup (about 8 cloves) chopped garlic
1 pound ground pork
3 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, or 2 pounds shrimp and 1 pound squid sliced into rings
6 cups loosely packed bean sprouts
10 handfuls (about 10 ounces) fresh or dried rice noodles
5 teaspoons preserved cabbage
10 teaspoons soy sauceFreshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped scallions Chinese hot sauce or chilies in vinegar Hoisin sauce
4 limes, quartered.
1. To make the broth and pork, place the bones in a large stockpot and add 12 quarts cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, adjust heat and simmer, uncovered, skimming off and discarding any foam that forms on top of the liquid. Meanwhile, in a large square of cheesecloth, tie together the jicama, garlic, onion, dried shrimp, dried squid, cabbage, ginger, peppercorns and cilantro stems and add them to the pot. Add fish sauce, sugar and salt. Simmer for 2 hours. Season to taste, only if needed.

2. Strain the broth and discard cheesecloth and bones. Return broth to the pot, bring back to a boil and add the pork. Simmer until just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Lift out the pork and slice thinly.
3. Make the garnishes: in a small skillet, heat 5 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
4. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add ground pork and cook, breaking up pieces, until no longer pink. Spoon into a bowl.

5. Lower shrimp into the broth using a colander or strainer (you may have to do this in batches) and simmer 1 to 2 minutes. Do the same with the squid if you are using it. Remove to a bowl.
6. Divide half the sprouts among 10 large soup bowls. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook, stirring with chopsticks, until soft, about 1 minute for dried (less for fresh). Drain. Divide the noodles between the bowls. Toss the noodles with a teaspoon of the garlic and oil. Top each with half a teaspoon of preserved cabbage, 1 teaspoon soy sauce and a sprinkle of ground white pepper.
7. Add a few slices meat to each bowl, 1 tablespoon ground pork, a few shrimp (and squid, if using). Fill each bowl with hot broth. Combine the cilantro, parsley and scallion and top each bowl with about a tablespoon of the herbs. Top with bean sprouts.
8. Bring bowls to the table and serve with soy sauce, hot sauce and hoisin. Guests should squeeze lime over their soups and season them with condiments of their choice.

Prince Criticizes Donors

Tuesday, December 21, 2004
The Cambodia daily

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, National Assembly president, criticized donor nations Monday for not pledging cash to the UN for the long-waited Khmer Rouge tribunal. The prince said a number of countries have pledged money for the trial, but it was not sufficient and it was now up to the international community to decide whether it wants to see a trial or not.

“They encouraged Cambodia to prosecute the Khmer Rouge but when we finished our duty, they seem to hesitate.” the Prince said. “We have the plow but there is no cow. We have to bring the cow first.”

Finance minister Keat Chhon said the government was ready to donate its 13 million share of the $56 million trial fee. (Yun Samean)

France pledges judges and more funds for Khmer Rouge tribunal

Friday December 17, 14:58 PM

France will provide an additional €1 million (US$1.3 million) and two judges to help the United Nations organize a tribunal in Cambodia for surviving leaders of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, a French official said Friday.

Xavier Darcos, Minister Delegate for Cooperation and Development, said the new funding will add to the US$1 million (€755,058) already pledged by his government.

Darcos, who is currently on a three-day visit to Cambodia, said France regretted the delay in convening the tribunal.
"The remaining Khmer Rouge leaders are aging already and must be prosecuted," he said at a briefing Friday.
Khmer Rouge chief Pol Pot died in 1998. Several of his top lieutenants, aging and infirm, still live freely in Cambodia. Their four-year rule during the late 1970s was responsible for the death of some 1.7 million people from starvation, diseases, overwork and execution.

Cambodia and the United Nations sealed a Khmer Rouge tribunal agreement in June 2003, but Parliament only ratified the pact in October this year due to a long domestic political deadlock.
Last week, both sides agreed on a US$56.2 million (€42.4 million) budget for the tribunal, which is expected to operate for three years.

Mohammed Said, head of the U.N. delegation, said at the end of talks with Cambodian officials that the amount would be adequate but that funds would still have to be found.
He said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to call a fund-raising conference with donors later this month.

Australia has already pledged 3 million Australian dollars (US$2.1 million; €1.5 million). Japan has also promised to make voluntary contribution of US$3 million (€2.2 million) to the first year of the tribunal's activities.
Jerome Walter, an aide to Darcos, said his government will submit the names of two French judges to the United Nations to the tribunal "so that the process can start faster."

To KR Survivor, Pol Pot Anything But Good

The Cambodia DailyFriday, December 17, 2004
By Nuon So Thero
I was so surprised to learn through your article, "Pol Pot's DaughterRecalls Her Father's Last Years and Looks to the Future"(Dec 11-12, page8), that the notorious Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot loved his family. It is ashock to imagine.
From Sar Patchata's point of view, he was a very good father. I would saythat she was a lucky young girl compared to the millions of Cambodians wholived under her father's genocidal agrarian regime. My life is so verydifferent from Sar Patchata's.
Because of her father I had a horrible and unspeakably painful life duringthe Khmer Rouge regime and then later in a refugee camp. Because of herfather, the flames of hatred, anger and revenge quietly burn in my heart.
My father was killed when I was too young to remember his face. I was putin a children's camp separated from my mother and forced to work long hourseach day in exchange for a few teaspoonfuls of porridge. One time, I wassent to an execution site. Luckily the killers took pity on me. SarPatchata and I are orphans, but we are orphaned in different ways.
I will never forget that my father was killed by her father's regime and myyounger brother died of starvation. I wanted to sit on my father's lap,play with him and hug and kiss him like Patchata did. But that was just afar off dream. Instead, I embraced fear, tears and hatred during mychildhood.
My pain will never heal no matter the circumstance. I will never forgiveher father. Patchata is not to blame for her father's inhumane leadership;however; it is her responsibility to know and understand what he did toCambodia and its people.

Gov't Bans Book Criticizing Current Leaders

The Cambodia DailyFriday,
December 17, 2004
By Thet Sambath
The Ministry of Information has banned the sale and circulation of a bookof French origin that alleges involvement by Prime Minister Hun Sen andother high-ranking officials in the crimes of the Khmer Rouge regime.
Police and ministry officials began confiscating copies of the three-volume"Who Is Angkar?" from Phnom Penh bookshops and libraries last month,Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said Thursday.
"I ordered them to collect these books from shops because the book accusesChea Sim, CPP's president, Prime Minister Hun Sen, CPP's deputy president,and Heng Samrin, CPP's honorary president, of being behind Tuol Slengprison and participating in Tuol Sleng prison," Khieu Kanharith said. "Whywould we sell these? They have all already been collected."
The copies circulating here are unofficial tranlations from a 1993 Frenchbook written by author Kim Thy Uoy. Each volume features coverillustrations of Hun Sen, Pol Pot, Chea Sim, Ho Chi Minh and formercommunist leaders Son Ngoc Minh and Tou Samouth. There is no publisherinformation on the book.
In addition to the accusations against the CPP officials, the bookcriticizes Vietnam for invading Cambodia and China for supporting the KhmerRouge.
Srey Pov, a book, magazine and newspaper vendor near Wat Langka, said thebook was a bestseller before it was banned. "I sold it well in the past. Iordered the printer to get more for me to sell but, he told me it is bannedfrom shops," she said Thursday. "I do not dare display it in myshop[anymore]."
Another Phnom Penh vendor, who asked for anonymity for fear of reprisal,said police and officials seized five copies of the book from his shop lastmonth.
"They did not tell me the reason [why], but said it was just upper leader'sorders," he said.
According to the law, the Ministry of Information and the Ministry ofInterior can confiscate any publications harmful to national security orpolitical stability.
Documentation Center of Cambodia Director Youk Chhang was critical of theban. "It is a waste of time to ban these books," he said.

Cambodia seeks more funds from Japan for Khmer Rouge trial

(Kyodo) _ Prince Norodom Ranariddh said Wednesday that Cambodia and the United Nations will not be able to begin a planned international criminal tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders unless Japan pays at least half of the required $56 million.

"If Japan does not finance half of the budget, we will not be able to start the trial," Prince Ranariddh, president of the National Assembly, told reporters. He said U.N. officials have expressed concerns over funding for the tribunal.

A Japanese diplomat in Phnom Penh said the Khmer Rouge trial is not an issue involving Japan but rather an agreement between the United Nations and Cambodia.

Japan has already pledged $3 million for the tribunal, the diplomat said.

"I have not heard any further information on financial support from my government, except the previous pledge of $3 million as already reported by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan," he said.

Sean Visoth, executive secretary of the government's Khmer Rouge tribunal task force, echoed the view of the prince.

"Without Japan's contribution, it will be very hard to start the planned trial," Sean Visoth said.
He said Annan will meet with a group of countries that support the trial in New York on Friday to brief them on the trial issue and to make an appeal for funding.

Last Friday, the United Nations and Cambodia finalized the budget for the three-year tribunal, with the United Nations to spend $43 million and Cambodia covering the remaining $13 million.

So far, France and Japan have expressed intentions to make voluntary contributions of $1 million and $3 million, respectively, for the first year of the tribunal, while Australia has pledged A$3 million (about US$2.1 million).

After six years of negotiations, Cambodia and the United Nations signed an agreement in June 2003 to set up the tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity during the regime's 1975-1979 reign of terror.

They are blamed for the deaths of at least 1.7 million people.

All three surviving top Khmer Rouge leaders -- Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea -- are in their late 70s and live freely in the country. Supreme Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died in 1998.

Ranariddh Opposes KR Trial at RCAF Base

The Cambodia Daily
Lor ChandaraThursday, December 16, 2004
National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh criticized thegovernment's proposal to use RCAF headquarters as a possible site for theKhmer Rouge tribunal, saying a different location was needed to ensure "atrue international standard of justice."
"For me, any place outside the military barracks must be better," he toldreporters Wednesday outside the Assembly. "Any court must be held in anenvironment where witnesses don't feel any pressure."
The final decision will be left up to the UN and the government's tribunaltask force, he added.
Speaking by telephone Wednesday, Sean Visoth, the government's tribunaltask force secretary, said officials were still waiting on the UN's finalapproval of the proposed location.
"I am not sure if the UN Secretariat has agreed to this site or not," hesaid. The new RCAF base in Kandal province could intimidate potential witnessesor regular citizens who want to attend the trials, Licadho President KekGalabru said Wednesday.
Motorbike taxi driver Var Phum, 39, agreed. "It is good for the country in poverty, but it is not good to do the trialin a military place," he said of the government's argument that holding thetribunal in the military base could save up to $1 million.

Theater Is Right Symbolic Site for KR Trial

The Cambodia Daily
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Regarding your article "Government, UN Finalize Budget for Khmer RougeTribunal"(Dec 11-12, page 3), in my opinion we should only use Phnom Penh'sChaktomuk Theater for the trial of the Khmer Rouge leaders because in 1979,Chaktomuk conference hall was used by the People's Republic of Kampucheafor sentencing the Khmer Rouge Clique: Pol Pot and Ieng Sary.
If the venue is changed, that would be a knock on the PRK and suggest thatthe government could not find justice for the victims of DemocraticKampuchea. If the government does not change the venue, that is a sign thatit will continue the task of the law.
The government demanded the UN to proceed with the tribunal in Cambodia,because the crimes happened in Cambodia. So from this point of view,Chaktomuk should be used. If the government changes the trial venue to theRCAF headquarters on National Route 4, Cambodian people will feelintimidated.
Nowadays, even when people are driving on the road they do not want todrive next to cars with military license plates because they are concernedabout having a problem with the owners.
Usually when they have such problems, those driving the cars with militaryplates have opened fire without warning.
Not all such drivers do that, but Cambodians are afraid of that happening.
Therefore the RCAF headquarters is not possible as a location.
Chhorng Long HengPhnom Penh

A long, agonizing wait for justice

Posted on Tue, Dec. 14, 2004

After so many years, no one has been held accountable. A tribunal is slowly taking shape, but doubts remain.
By Adam FifieldInquirer Staff Writer

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Ieng Sary, round-faced, balding, and slowed by 74 years, visits the Wat Svay Pope Pagoda at least twice a year. It's a peaceful neighborhood temple, and he brings food for the monks. He prays while they chant for him. An ornate memorial stupa beneath the shade trees commemorates his deceased relatives in a country where so many have been lost.
But Sary is different from others still shaken by the Khmer Rouge era.
That's because he helped create it.
And among those the Khmer Rouge tried to wipe out were monks. In knowing where his loved ones lie and being able to pray for their repose, Sary enjoys the comforts of a ritual denied his many victims.
In this deeply impoverished country, he owns a sumptuous villa nestled in a nearby quiet block, and leads, as do other leaders accused of genocide, the life of a retired gentleman.
Although there are tribunals for more recent atrocities in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone, no one has been held accountable for the 25-year-old crimes of the Khmer Rouge.
As many as 1.7 million people died during their rule.
But in October - after seven years of negotiations and delays - Cambodian lawmakers approved a U.N.-sanctioned agreement to try surviving Khmer Rouge leaders for genocide and crimes against humanity. The tribunal, estimated to take three years and cost $56 million, would be presided over by Cambodian and international judges. No defendants have been named, but the court is expected to focus on five to 10 high-ranking figures.
Justice has not been delayed for a lack of evidence. The Documentation Center of Cambodia, a nonprofit organization founded by Yale University, has collected testimony and more than 600,000 pages of documents, mapped 19,521 mass graves, and identified 194 prisons and 80 memorial sites.
One obstacle was an ongoing civil war, which made peace the country's top priority until 1998. And Cambodia's prime minister, Hun Sen, himself a former Khmer Rouge commander, has been accused of hindering the process.
But many scholars, historians and human-rights organizations say the blame should also be spread throughout the international community.
"The country never mattered, that's the heart of it all," said David Chandler, a prominent Cambodia scholar. "So geopolitics took over from human-rights considerations."
In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, not only did the United States and other countries fail to stop the Khmer Rouge, but they also backed the regime even after Vietnam removed it from power. Cambodia became a pawn in Cold War politics.
In 1979, the administration of President Jimmy Carter voted in favor of a Khmer Rouge bid to represent Cambodia at the United Nations. This policy of diplomatic support continued through the Reagan and first Bush administrations.
By recognizing the Khmer Rouge - the enemy of its enemy, Vietnam - the United States exacerbated the suffering of millions of Cambodians.
"What I would really like to know is, does President Carter regret this?" said Tom Fawthrop, the coauthor of a new book called Getting Away With Genocide? "And should he not apologize to the Cambodian people for prolonging their misery?"
In response to an interview request, the Carter Center sent a statement Carter made in 1978 condemning the Khmer Rouge as "the worst violator of human rights in the world today." It also included a chapter from then-Secretary of State Cyrus Vance's memoir in which he explains the U.N. vote, saying "we could not afford the far-reaching consequences of a vote that would isolate us" from allies.
• The tribunal's five most likely defendants are men who set and carried out the policies that devastated the country.
Known as Brother Number Three, Ieng Sary was the Khmer Rouge foreign minister. He was a confidant of the enigmatic leader Pol Pot, Brother Number One. According to scholars and legal experts, significant evidence suggests that he promoted arrests and executions. He has denied it.
Brother Number Two, Nuon Chea, the highest-ranking Khmer Rouge leader alive, allegedly devised and carried out execution policies. He has admitted he made "mistakes" but denied he was guilty of genocide.
Former Khmer Rouge President Khieu Samphan, who lives freely in the former stronghold of Pailin, was the public face of the regime. Experts say evidence shows he knew about the atrocities and failed to stop them. Earlier this year he published a memoir contending he knew nothing about them.
"These are the people who gave the orders. They didn't take the orders," Cambodia scholar Chandler said. Chandler wrote a biography of Pol Pot, who died in 1998.
Two other likely defendants are in jail awaiting trial in Phnom Penh. The one-legged Ta Mok, known as "the Butcher," was a ruthless military commander. He is widely implicated in the killing. His attorney says he intends to call Carter, Henry Kissinger and Margaret Thatcher as witnesses in his defense.
Kang Kek Ieu, known as Duch, ran the notorious torture center Tuol Sleng, and the evidence against him is overwhelming. He has admitted overseeing executions and torture. One document lists 17 adults and children. At the bottom Duch signed his name and wrote: "Kill them all."
Although Duch's tenure as the head of Tuol Sleng is well-documented, his attorney, Ka Savuth, insists he was only a deputy. Savuth said Duch "is happy to stand trial and tell everything to the court."
At least 14,000 people were tortured at Tuol Sleng and then executed. The site is now a genocide museum. "It's a good museum," Savuth said.
•Advocates say a tribunal is essential to reestablish a moral foundation for Cambodia.
"We live in a broken society," said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia. "We have completely lost trust among ourselves, among our neighbors, among our people... . This has completely destroyed our soul... .
"When you fail to prosecute the Khmer Rouge leaders, it's not logical to prosecute those who commit lesser crimes... . It allows people to use the Khmer Rouge to do bad things."
Chhang and many advocates, scholars and politicians say the absence of justice has, in part, spawned a "culture of impunity" in Cambodia, where mob killings and political assassinations blight the society. The country's judiciary has remained weak and susceptible to corruption.
"You have to start putting things right at the top for the biggest crimes and the biggest
offenses," opposition politician Sam Rainsy said.
Human-rights groups have questioned whether the tribunal will be effective.
"I think there's reason for skepticism, because there are so many things that can be put in the way," said Brad Adams, director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch.
Since negotiations for a tribunal began, Hun Sen, the nation's prime minister, has balked at cooperating with the United Nations and has made wildly contradictory statements, supporting a tribunal and opposing it.
In 1998, after Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan surrendered to the government, Hun Sen welcomed them warmly. He said Cambodia should "dig a hole and bury the past." In 1996, Ieng Sary was granted a royal amnesty at Hun Sen's request.
Hun Sen wants a trial to proceed, spokesman Khieu Kanharith said. "The government is ready to give a free hand to the judge," he said. "This shows the determination of the government to find justice."
Craig Etcheson, a leading Khmer Rouge expert and author of the forthcoming book After the Killing Fields: Lessons From the Cambodian Genocide, stressed the importance of holding a tribunal, even an imperfect one, sooner rather than later.
"If we wait for an enlightened regime to emerge," he said, "all of the suspects will be long dead. So, in my view, the better thing is to achieve what's possible now but not to forget that more needs to be done as it becomes possible."

• The last remaining hurdle for the tribunal appears to be money. Australia has pledged $2.1 million, France $1 million and Japan $3 million. Last week, President Bush signed the omnibus appropriations bill, which also prohibited the funneling of American dollars toward any
Cambodian tribunal unless the judiciary is independent and free of corruption. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said the process can begin only after the first year of funding is secured and financial pledges are made for the full three years.
Hun Sen had said Cambodia would contribute facilities, utilities and security, but little else. However, on Friday, it was announced that Cambodia would provide $13 million.
Philadelphia's Cambodians are frustrated and remain skeptical that any accounting will occur.
"Saddam has been arrested," said Chamroeun Nhay, a social worker in North Philadelphia.
"How about the Khmer Rouge that kill millions of people?"
Chea Meas, who runs a travel agency in South Philadelphia and who lost many relatives during the Khmer Rouge era, said that if the tribunal is ever mounted, he will travel to witness it.
"We have waited long enough," he said. "I have three kids already. I want to see a trial tomorrow."

All Children Should Know Family History

The Cambodia Daily
Monday, December 14, 2004
All Children Should Know Family History.
I would like to share my thoughts on the article "Coming of Age in a time of Peace: Pol Pot's Daughter Recalls her Father's last years, and Looks to the Future"(Dec 11-12, page 8).
I was 21 years old when I was translating the "Diary of Anne Frank." I am now 23, working toward my master's degree in Leisure, Tourism and Environment.
As a young girl, Anne Frank was curious why Adolf Hitler killed Jewish people, raising the idea that "what one Jew does does not reflect on all Jews." But of course, what a father does is not the daughter's fault. The daughter belongs to the younger generation. The next generation, however, should be educated about the history of their country and know the background of their family members.
Young people are eager to learn and to know. I would regret it if I never learned or knew of my background and where I came from. I have no interest in politics, but I'm curious why Cambodia and its people fell into such unbelievable disaster. Why did they make war? Only the leaders can tell the answer. Why did the Rouge bring down their own country and take the lives of so many of their countrymen? A tribunal is for the generation to learn and those people who want the truth.
I graduated from the National Institute of Management with a major in accounting, as Sar Patchata plans to do. I had no clue what I should do after high school, but I was told there are more job opportunities for females who study accounting.
Sar Patchata and I are luckier than other poor Cambodian children who cannot finish high school. While in high school, the teachers and older people always said the youth are the heart of the country.

Former KR Soldiers Reunited With the World

Volume 30 Issue 63
Monday, December 13, 2004

LUOT VILLAGE, Bokeo district, Ratanakkiri province-On a shaded wooden platform outside his new bamboo home, across the red dirt road from the one in which he was born 50 years ago, former Khmer Rouge soldier Romam Luong pressed a button on his new favorite possession and grinned.

From the black plastic tape recorder, a rhythmic melody in his native Tampuon language played as Romam Luong described the feeling of returning home.

"In the jungle, I lived like a monkey," he said of the remote forests in Virachey National Park where his and three other families hid for 25 years from Vietnamese troops they still believed were occupying the country. "Here, they communicate freely, walk freely…. I can listen to a radio, listen to music."

The song was punctuated by coughing inside the house from his wife and four children—the same hacking cough and fever that have plagued most of the returnees. Romam Luong looked up and smiled.

"I like the radio very much," he said.

In 1979, four young couples and four children fled into the woods from the approaching Vietnamese, leaving behind a society in which the Khmer Rouge had abolished currency, religion and education.

On Nov 15, they walked out of the jungle and into the modern world—at least as much of the modern world as has reached rural northeastern Cambodia.

Those who left as young adults said they were thrilled to be back among their families and by the often confounding changes that occurred in the world in their absence.

A strong desire to return compelled the group to end their years in hiding, returnees said last week. With morale flagging and supplies running low, the group decided to approach Lao authorities for help. If they were unsuccessful, they reasoned, "at least we could see something different before we die," former soldier Ly Moun said.

Lao authorities contacted provincial Governor Kham Khoeun, who sent messages to the hill tribe members' home villages in search of surviving relatives.

When Romam Bam heard her brother was alive, she hired a motorbike taxi and sped toward the provincial capital of Banlung. Meeting for the first time in 25 years, she and Romam Luong touched each other's heads and hands and cried for joy, Romam Bam, 53, recalled. He inquired after their parents and wept again when she told him they had died, she said.

"I thought he had died, because he was missing for so long," she said last week, echoing the sentiments of most of the group's relatives.

Despite the stories of joyful reunions, there are signs of difficulty in the group's reintegration to village society.

After years of relative health in isolation, sickness is now pervasive. Several returnees complained of fever and fatigue. And during a talk at the Krala village meeting house with 23 returned hill tribe members resettled in O'Chum district, raspy coughs echoed up and down the wooden bench as children and adults spit phlegm onto the dirt floor.

"There's so much dust here," said Ly Moun's wife as she nursed their 5-month-old infant.

For the children born in hiding, their entry to the village is not a homecoming but a completely new—and often frightening—way of life, their parents said.

Romam Luong's children and grandchildren shrank from visitors to their hut, their dark eyes piercing the shadows as they retreated toward a back wall. Outside a group of local youngsters kicked up clouds of red dirt, their voices rising into excited shrieks and giggles as they played.

"The young children in the village, they play, they are happy," Romam Luong said, observing the village youths. "They are not like my children."

Abandoning the secrecy of the forest has come easier for the adults than the children, the returnees said.

Children were told from birth to cry and speak as little as possible to avoid detection, their parents said last week. When babies cried they immediately were put to their mother's breast to silence them.

Through a combination of security fears and the Khmer Rouge ideology they brought with them to the jungle, the families did away with the traditional religious beliefs and practices that mark village life. When the oldest man in the group died five years ago, his body was buried without ceremony, Ly Moun said. As the children grew up and married each other, the matches took place with little fanfare other than copious amounts of traditional rice wine fermented in the jungle.

"We ask the girl…do you want to love this boy for life? They as the boy, will you love this girl for life?" said Chalat Chakov, 35. "If the answer is yes, they start drinking."

Despite habits left over from the Khmer Rouge, the former soldiers said they were not sorry to hear of the regime's fall. They did not learn that at least 1 million Cambodians perished under the regime until provincial authorities in Ratanakkiri told them, they said. They spoke of the news a month later with little emotion.

"The Khmer Rouge regime seemed more difficult than the jungle," Ly Moun said. "In the jungle, I had more freedom. Living in the Khmer Rouge's time, we did not have enough food. We were never full. Some people snuck into farms to steal potatoes; in the jungle, there was no stealing."

Today, returnees healthy enough to work have already returned to the rice fields. Their houses are built or are under construction using materials donated from provincial authorities, local NGOs and the community.

After years on the run, it is good to be home, the hill tribe members said.

"It's very different from before. Really, far different. People can freely exchange goods…they can buy and sell," Ly Moun said. "It's amazing. I enjoy it like them, too. Nobody disturbs anyone." End.

Few Concerns Over Talk of KR Trial Move

The Cambodia Daily
By Yun Samean and Corinne Purtill
Monday, December 13, 2004
The surprise announcement of the new RCAF headquarters as the likely site of the impending Khmer Rouge tribunal caused little disturbance among trial observers Sunday, though some cautioned that vigilance would be necessary to ensure separation between the military and the legal proceedings.
Inaugurated Nov 8, yet only partially completed, the $10 million headquarters located in Kandal province's Ang Snuol district is one of the few structures in Cambodia with ample space and security for the trial, Defense Minister Tea Banh said Sunday.
He brushed off concerns that the choice of venue could intimidate participants whose rebel movement fought RCAF only six and one half years ago. "During the prosecution, those former Khmer Rouge leaders will be thinking only about prosecution. They will not fear RCAF," he said.
An October report from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the tribunal's progress indicated that Phnom Penh's Chaktomuk Theater and the National Cultural Center would be used as the trial's courtroom and offices. The government proposed the change of venue last week during the UN task force's visit, saying the RCAF command was a logistical improvement over the alternatives.
On Sunday, relatives of some of those likely to go on trial said they were indifferent to the court's site.
"The location is not important as long as the prosecution is just," said Khieu Rathana, daughter of ex-Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan. Mei Makk, deputy governor of Pailin municipality and a former Khmer Rouge soldier, concurred.
"If the government has already agreed, we have no choice but to comply," he said. Sean Visoth, secretary of the government task force on the tribunal, declined comment Sunday.
Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said he would not object to the venue, unless RCAF involved itself in the proceedings beyond providing security.
"This is a country where citizens are afraid of men in uniform," he said.