Aug 17, 2010 11:58 am


Theary Seng, whose book Daughter of the Killing Fields is forthcoming, asks: When will justice come to more senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge?

Late last month in Cambodia, Kaing Guek Eav—the killer known to all Cambodians as Comrade Duch—was finally convicted. The former commandant was found guilty by a U.N.-backed tribunal of crimes against humanity in the sadistic murders of at least 14,000 of his countrymen. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Though his conviction was a milestone for Cambodians who have waited years for some form of credible justice, many genocide survivors, including me, felt the punishment was far too soft given the severity of his crimes. After the Extraordinary Chambers—as the tribunal is formally known—deducted five years to redress violations of his rights when he was held illegally in prior military detention, and 11 years for the time he's already served, Comrade Duch would only serve 19 years behind bars: 11 hours of imprisonment for each person he slaughtered.

Yesterday came the welcome news that the prosecutors are appealing his sentence on the grounds that it's too lenient. Cambodians are heartened by the appeal but hope that it will not cause undue delays to the more pressing matter: the case against the"senior" Khmer Rouge leaders, the core of the Extraordinary Chambers's mission. . . .

Comrade Duch was the commandant of only one Khmer Rouge detention center (Tuol Sleng) and only one killing field (Choeung Ek). There were at least 200 detention centers and thousands of killing fields spread across the country. Phnom Penh was not the only crime scene: Almost every rice field, pagoda and school in the country became a site for slaughter.

The Khmer Rouge rounded up their victims—mainly fellow Cambodians evacuated from the capital and major towns—on the grounds that they were tainted by Western imperialism. They gathered them in the middle of the night for mass execution into graves usually dug by the victims the day before.

Bullets were saved for the war against Vietnam. Instead the Khmer Rouge butchered and whacked their own people from behind at the stem of the neck with crude farm instruments like hoes. Those who didn't die immediately were asphyxiated under the bodies piled on top of them in mass graves.

Cold War considerations led Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski to encourage China (who hardly needed such encouragement) to support Pol Pot after he was overthrown by Vietnam.

Personally, I am must more annoyed with the left's refusal to deny that the blood shed happened as it was going on. They have no excuse and they continue to inflict damage on the young with amazing impunity. The left has yet to admit that totalitarian Communism was vile beyond imagination. That is the reason that while few students would admit to having Nazi or Fascist views. They have little difficulty advocating Communist ones. See,

Stuart Elliott, From Collective Guilt to Collective Silence A report on the far left’s early reaction to “one of the most brutal bloodbaths of modern history.”

* Human Rights in Cambodia: 1-10 11-25 26-40 41-56 57-70 [PDF] Congressional hearings in which David Chandler expressed agnosticism about the bloodbath reports and Gareth Porter openly defended the Khmer Rouge. Porter’s performance was considered so disgraceful that one Senator compared him to apologists for Nazism.

Sophal Ear, The Khmer Rouge Canon 1975-1979: The Standard Total Academic View on Cambodia [PDF] Important study documenting the academic campaign to defend the Khmer Rouge during the Cambodian genocide. The deniers included Gareth Porter, George Hildebrand, Malcolm Caldwell, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman.

The Thoughts of Ben Kiernan [PDF]

Sophal Ear, One Side of the Two-Sided Switch: Benedict Kiernan and the Khmer Rouge The shocking record of scholar Ben Kiernan, who supported the Khmer Rouge during the slaughter and then defended the brutal dictatorship imposed by communist Vietnam. Kiernan has been described as “poacher-turned-gamekeeper in the field of genocide.”

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