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Khmer Rouge Survivors Demand More Reparations

FILE - A woman pays her respects to relatives who died during the Khmer Rouge regime at a memorial for the victims, in Kampot province, April 15, 2015.

Cambodian survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime appealed for clarity in their compensation claims and complained Friday about a general lack of awareness of legal procedures at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh.

Several survivors gathered at a restaurant in the capital, including Sem Hoeun, 53, who was used as a porter by the regime. She was forced to carry fertilizer made from the remains of the dead to spur agrarian development.

Sem Hoeun said she still lives with the pain and suffering of those days. She called on the country’s current leadership not to treat people “brutally and badly.”

Hoeun said she wants compensation, but is unsure how apply for assistance.

An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died during the rule of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979.

So far, only the former head of the notorious S-21 security center, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, has been sentenced for crimes against humanity. The regime’s second-in-command, Nuon Chea, and its head of state, Khieu Samphan, remain on trial.

Kranh Tony, a representative of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) who helps oversee reparations, said without elaboration that the court is continuing to seek redress for survivors through 17 projects.

Neth Pheaktra, an ECCC spokesman, said the court needs more funding for reparations projects.

Sos Tonh, 54, called for a system of “collective compensation” that could see money spent on community projects.

“I don’t know what I want, because we hear the words ‘compensation and compensation,’ but how could they offer us compensation?" he said. "Now, with this gathering, I want a religious hall or school for the next generation of Cambodian kids.”

Khmer Rouge soldiers beat and killed his father and three siblings in the 1970s, he added.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Khmer Service.