- Why is it important to bring KR leaders to justice?
- For what crimes will KR leaders be tried?
- 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?