Monday, October 22, 2007

Senior Khmer Rouge leader arrested

Noun Chea, the senior most living Khmer Rouge leader has been arrested in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge was responsible for the deaths of 1.7- 2.5 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979. Noun Chea, now 82 was second in command only to the notorious Pol Pot. Whether the Khmer Rouge is an example of communism gone wrong, or ordinary people reacting to their situation and "following orders" the wounds in Cambodia are still glaring. I visited Cambodia this summer, and it is very much a nation still recovering from the memories of a horrendous genocide.
To this date, none of the Khmer Rouge leaders have been put on trial. In fact many leaders such as Pol Pot and To Mok have died, and many of them led comfortable lives in Cambodia even after the genocide. In 2006, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia or the Khmer Rouge tribunal was established, to try senior Khmer Rouge leaders or those "most responsible" for the crimes committed against the Cambodian people between 1975 and 1979. There are a number of concerns about the tribunal especially since it is being established nearly thirty years after the end of the genocide, and only has a three year mandate. However, Noun Chea is among the first to be indicted for crimes against humanity. The link has numerous pictures of Cambodia today, and documentation of the genocide. It will be interesting to see the role that international law and the tribunal plays for Cambodia today.

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