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readers' submissions

 

The Khmer Rouge Tribunal

By Ronnie Yimsut

Members of the international community have recently pledged a total amount of $38.48 million towards the establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers for the prosecution under Cambodian law of crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge. Although it is about $4.52 million short of the $43 million to be solicited from UN member states, the short fall in financial contribution is not a big issue.

The victims and survivors of those horrific crimes had waited for far too long for justice. It had taken almost three decades for us to arrive at the current moment, and there was only one small financial hurdle to jump before the establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers. After 30 years of waiting, the long-delayed process of achieving justice for the people of Cambodia would at last be implemented, assuming that both the UN member states and the RGC remain committed to their pledges. 

Both the UN, including its member states, and the RGC should be praised for their political and moral courage to tackle this bitter issue, the KR tribunal. It is long over due and it is better late than never.  Those who survived the KR Killing Fields, including myself, have not given up the hope that however late, and however imperfect, impunity will not remain unchallenged, and a measure of justice will be achieved in the end. This part, at least, will be a precious and important gift to Cambodia and its still traumatized people.

As an American, I am saddened and disappointed that the United States Legislative branch restraints made it impossible to pledge moneys towards the Tribunal. As a survivor of the Killing Fields, I am personally disgusted at China, the main backer of the KR regime, which chose to place more barriers instead of doing the right thing by supporting the tribunal, including financial support.

The murder of my family by the KR dead squad in December 1977 was not simply a statistic. My dead family entitled to basic human rights that have thoroughly been denied. Although I personally do not expect much from this exercise (the tribunal), it is better than nothing at all. To remain silence in face of such evil is no different than condoning the atrocities committed by the KR. Therefore, on behalf of my dead family members and millions of my fellow Khmer, I want to express my sincere appreciation to the donor countries, especially Japan, for their generosity, moral courage, and for doing the responsible thing by pledging moneys and supporting the Tribunal.


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