Khmer Rouge survivors protest at war crimes trial restart

Second phase focuses on charges of genocide against Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese as well as allegations of rape and forced marriage.

Khmer Rouge survivors protest at war crimes trial restart

World Bulletin/News Desk

Several hundred victims of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime protested outside a United Nations-backed war crimes court in the capital Friday demanding financial compensation for their suffering.

They staged their rally as evidentiary hearings in the second phase of the trial of Pol Pot regime’s surviving senior leaders began -- focused on charges of genocide against the Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese as well as allegations of rape and forced marriage.

In a statement, the protesters slammed the so-called “moral and collective” reparations -- such as monuments to victims and a national day of remembrance -- that have so far been awarded as “worthless.”

The court has always said financial reparations will not be forthcoming. Both the indicted have been declared indigent.

Nuon Chea, 88, one of the regime’s chief ideologues, and Khieu Samphan, 83, former Khmer Rouge head of state, were found guilty of crimes against humanity in August and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, because the case was split into smaller parts to ensure at least one verdict against the men, the second phase of the case is yet to be heard.

For many of the thousands of civil parties, these are the more relevant charges—though there is doubt the accused will live to see the second verdict.

In court Friday, prosecutors laid out the allegations against Chea and Samphan, with the targeted killing of the Cham minority Muslims and sexual abuse taking center stage.

“You will hear in this trial from the women of Democratic Kampuchea who were raped as part of the [Khmer Rouge] policy,” prosecutor Chea Leang told the court, referring to Cambodia by its name during the Khmer Rouge era.

The reign of the ultra-Maoist group -- which seized control of Cambodia in 1975 and ruled for four years -- saw about 1.7 million people killed through execution, starvation and overwork. Under the Communist regime all religion—the main faith being Buddhism -- was banned, and places of worship and religious documents destroyed.

There were about 200,000 Cham Muslims--who are originally believed to have come to Cambodia from the ancient kingdom of Champa (in what is now Vietnam) centuries before --when the Khmer Rouge took over. 

At least a third of them were killed during the regime, according to Minority Rights Group International. There is a population of about 400,000 Cham Muslims living in Cambodia today. 

First witness testimony in Case 002/02 will begin October 27.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Ekim 2014, 12:40