News / Asia

Cambodians Mark Khmer Rouge Anniversary, Many Still Hoping for Justice

A boy looks at a pile of skulls in a stupa at Choeung Ek memorial on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 17, 2014.
A boy looks at a pile of skulls in a stupa at Choeung Ek memorial on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 17, 2014.
Cambodians on Thursday marked the 39th anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge, with many victims of the regime still anxious to see the conclusion of the trial of two jailed leaders.

On April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge overran the capital and began emptying Cambodia's cities, pushing people into labor camps and work collectives in the countryside.

Bou Meng is one of the few survivors of the notorious Tuol Sleng detention center in Phnom Penh, where his wife was tortured and executed.  He told VOA that it is vital to remember the horrors of the past.

“April 17 is a historic day that none of us can forget," said Meng.

Nearly 40 years later, only Kaing Kek Iev, better known as Duch, who oversaw Tuol Sleng, has been successfully brought to trial by a United Nations-backed tribunal.

Aging Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are awaiting a verdict in the first phase of their trial, as well as the beginning of the second and final phase.  They are accused of atrocities including genocide, for their leadership roles in the regime.

Long Panhavuth, who monitors the tribunal at the Cambodia Justice Initiative, said their ongoing trial should serve as a reminder that such crimes will not go unpunished.

“First, we can say that large scaled offenses like the crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide, have no statute of limitation.  Second, this shows us that in whatever circumstances, those who are responsible for these crimes must be brought to justice for their roles in causing deaths to people," said Panhavuth.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said Thursday that the April 17 anniversary serves as a lesson to government leaders.

“We’ve learned a lot from experience which had led to violent change like what the Khmer Rouge did, and their nation building process based on violence," said Siphan.

The Khmer Rouge regime is blamed for the deaths of nearly 2 million Cambodians during its bloody, four-year rule in the late 1970's.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More