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KHMER ROUGE JUSTICE

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  1. Why is it important to bring KR leaders to justice?
  2. For what crimes will KR leaders be tried?
  3. What is the structure of the KR tribunals?

Importance of bringing Khmer Rouge leaders to justice


Between April 1975 and December 1978, the Khmer Rouge caused the estimated death of 1.7 million people in the following manner:

1. Forced population movements

- Many thousands, especially among the aged and the young, died from lack of food, water and medical assistance during forced marches to the countryside. The Khmer Rouge continued to move people forcibly from village to village, zone to zone, during its years in power.

2. Forced labour and inhumane living conditions

- The misery caused by the methods used by the Khmer Rouge in implementing its policy of transforming the Cambodian economy constituted the single largest source of deaths during the Khmer Rouge period. Starvation, disease and physical exhaustion, caused by overwork and inadequate food, medicine and sanitation, killed hundreds of thousands.

3. Attacks on enemies of the revolution

- The regime also targeted certain groups for extermination by virtue of their imputed political beliefs or social or ethnic background: a) officials of the prior regime, b) some ethnic minorities, c) teachers, students and other educated elements, d) religious leaders and institutions.

4. Purges within the Communist Party of Kampuchea

- The paranoia of the Khmer Rouge regime showed itself most clearly in the treatment of its own cadres. In an ever-expanding purge beginning in late 1976 and continuing until the overthrow of the regime, the leadership looked for enemies within the Party, accusing them of being agents of the CIA, KGB or of Viet Nam.

A multitude of reasons can be put forth for why it would be desirable to bring the KR to justice. As far as Cambodians are concerned however, there are three main reasons: 1. Having been victims of the Khmer Rouge, the people of Cambodia need to see those who perpetrated crimes against them punished; 2. Cambodians need to feel a sense of closure, a sense of resolution to all the pain and suffering they and family members have had to endure; and 3. Prosecution of the KR is needed to establish in the Cambodian social consciousness the importance of human rights and rule of law. If mass murderers are permitted to escape justice, how much more difficult might it be to prevent lesser crimes?



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