Phnom Penh, Cambodia (26 November 2010)
Four Senior Khmer Rouge (KR) leaders were formally indictor for genocide, crimes against humanity, torture, and other serious crimes in September 2010. The charge of genocide in particular has garnered much attention. Then term genocide is often debated among scholars, leading to disagreement on whether genocide took place during Democratic Kampuchea. For many Cambodians, they have long used the tern genocide to describe the killings by the Khmer Rouge regime. This does not imply a consensus or a clear understanding of the term’s legal and historical conceptualization among Cambodians however. Further, the legal definition as defined in the Genocide Convention of 1948 has been criticized by scholars for being too restrictive and broad. To give the confusion and disagreements surrounding the term, Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) was organizing conference on November 25th, 2010 at Conference Hall of Institution of Technology of Cambodia (ITC) to discuss genocide.
The purpose of the conference is to help to clarify the term genocide; collection of oral histories during the interview will help to build a more complete history of Democratic Kampuchea; and promote further discussion on Democratic Kampuchea; and promote further discussion on Democratic Kampuchea and participation in the truth-seeking process.
The conference was attended by different groups of Cham Muslim women and religious leaders, Buddhist monks, priests, members of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom minority the Vietnamese minority, and hill tribe community members and other minority group in Cambodia.
Vathan peoudara, DC-Cam Deputy Director, said that people already heard and talk about the term of genocide for 31 years to refer to crime of Khmer Rouge leaders, but most of them may not know the legal definition of genocide. This conference will provide knowledge to all minorities about genocide.
Willaim Smith, ECCC international deputy co-Prosecutor, said that the term of genocide invented by a lawyer, Rafal Lemkin. He intended to fill a gap in international law as it then stood in the Second World War as it then stood in the Second World War. Even before Lemkin’s time, international law recognized a limited number of law recognized a limited number of so-called international crimes.
He remarked in the present convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in which or in part, a national, ethnical, and racial or religious groups as: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or metal harm to members to the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The conference is a continuation of DC-Cam’s long term effort to increase awareness and research on the experiences of Cham Muslims, hill tribes, the Chinese, and the Vietnamese during Democratic Kampuchea. In 1996, DC-Cam began working with difference minority groups to collect oral histories. Along with ethnic Khmers, these minority groups suffered greatly under the regime. Between 100,000-400,000 Cham Muslims and approximately 300,000 Vietnamese died during this period. Many Khmer Kampuchea Krom people were accused of having “Vietnamese brain” and tortured or killed as a result. Buddhist monks were defrocked and forced to work in the agriculture.
By S.L (Vol. 4, Issue 48, SEAW)