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Saturday, January 15, 2005

Ex-Khmer Rouge killer Has No Excuse for Past Crimes

Editor: Vannak Huy
Graduate Student in Global Affairs
Center for Global Change and Governance
Rutgers University, USA

You are absolutely right in the sense that “There is no one life that is more valuable than another.”

After Saddam Hussein of Iraq was arrested and brought to justice for having committed genocide on thousands of Kurd minority people, once again, the international community has turned to focus on securing lives of thousand victims of devastation Tsunami. This is the right, generous, and humanitarian mission. There is no proper compensation for victims and their suffering cannot be compared. Unfortunately, the lives of millions of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979 have been given low priority, again and again.

The Khmer Rouge regime ended more than 26 years ago, but its legacy still exists and affects the country and its people. Cambodia has moved forward slowly and has had difficulty integrating into the region and the globe. The Khmer Rouge history remains a battleground for Cambodians. It is important for Cambodians and the international community to view this history and find ways to deal with it.

During my research project between 2000 and 2002 for my book entitled, The Khmer Rouge Division 703: From Victory to Self-destruction, I interviewed numerous surviving Khmer Rouge perpetrators and victims. Most of perpetrators had the same feelings and story as Suy Vith. They were recruited to join the revolution when they were young and had low education. They were indoctrinated to become a nationalist with low consciousness. During the regime, Suy Vith lost his dear parents as well. In this case, Suy Vith should be viewed as not only a killer, but also as a tool of the revolution and a victim of the Khmer Rouge

The survivors from the Khmer Rouge regime returned back home with suffering or traumatized by the regime, especially women and children. One could see their daily work, but they could not see their heart and countless sufferings. The delay of the Khmer Rouge tribunal will continue to cause Cambodians to view each other and its history in different ways. Cambodians need their value and dignity as equal human beings.

Two of my uncles joined the Khmer Rouge revolution in 1973 in the hope that he could help their family and country. Unfortunately, my uncles have disappeared since that time. During the Khmer Rouge regime, I lost my elder brother, my grandfather and more than thirty relatives. My mother always shed tears when she recalls this bitter past, the life she ever met. Although Suy Vith was involved in the Khmer Rouge regime, he is now making the right decision to testify in the future Khmer Rouge Tribunal. The Tribunal will not only clear his past and accountability, but also give justice to the victims. We are concerned not only for the future of our kids and relatives, but also his children and others. In what world they should live and what kind of job they should do.

I hope that the international community will open their hearts and take all means and efforts to find justice for the victims and those who have been victimized. It is not only our wish and dream, but also of the Cambodian people. Our hope is that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will bring not only justice, but also new thoughts, peace, reconciliation, and development in the country. One alone cannot achieve real justice. Together we shall make the difference.

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