News / Asia

    Khmer Rouge Trial Opens Old Wounds

    Survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime, Chum Mey (L) and Bou Meng (C) pray at Choeung Ek "Killing Fields" site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, June 25, 2011
    Survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime, Chum Mey (L) and Bou Meng (C) pray at Choeung Ek "Killing Fields" site located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, June 25, 2011

    The United Nations-backed trial of former senior Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia aims to bring some degree of justice after decades of impunity for their bloody revolution.  For the victims, the trial has re-opened painful wounds but also brings hope for healing.

    Kup Aishah, a minority Cham Muslim, turns the pages of a large-print copy of the Koran.

    Wearing a traditional navy blue headscarf she fondly recalls how she has had this Koran since she was 12 year old.

    During Cambodia’s bloody Khmer Rouge era in the 1970s, when religion was outlawed, she wrapped it in plastic, dug a hole in her yard and hid it.

    Kup Aishah says she was targeted for her beliefs and forced to eat dog meat and pork.   She only dared to unearth her Koran after the end of the Khmer Rouge.

    She says it is difficult for her to talk about the communist extremists, because in their fervor to form a peasant utopia they killed most of her family.

    She asks if the families of those leaders were killed, would they not suffer?  Did they not have families too?

    Kup Aishah is attending the long-awaited war crimes trial in Phnom Penh of four former Khmer Rouge senior leaders whose policies she, like many, says directed the killing of up to two million Cambodians.

    They are Khieu Samphan, then head of state, Ieng Sary, the foreign minister, his wife, Ieng Thirith, who was minister of social affairs, and Nuon Chea, known as “brother number two” for his position as second in command to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot.

    They say they are innocent of all charges and Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a former Khmer Rouge, has said the trial, only the second, should also be the last.

    Theary Seng is president of the Association of Khmer Rouge Victims in Cambodia.  Outside of the tribunal Monday Seng said the United Nations-backed court - in resisting new cases - is giving in to his government’s pressure.

    “So, this is what is really unacceptable and disgusting.  The U.N. is basically violating its own principle of international standards, its own principle of judicial independence," he said. "We didn’t expect much from the Cambodian officials but we expected a lot more from the United Nations."

    Several foreign staff at the court in June quit their jobs over the conflict. Court officials deny there has been any political interference.

    On the first day of the trial Monday, hundreds of people filed in to watch the proceedings, including Kup Aishah.

    Whether or not more leaders are brought to justice, it is clear that thousands of lower-level Khmer Rouge responsible for killings will never see trial.

    But critics agree seeing any of the Khmer Rouge leaders in court after so many years is still a step forward in helping their victims to heal.

    For Kup Aishah, she says there will only be justice if they are all found guilty and spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora