Monday, March 30, 2009

Justice for All?: Prosecution of Kaing Guek Eav

The Khmer Rouge ruled brutally in 1975 through 1979 in Cambodia. Kaing Guek Eav, known as "Duch," was one of the regime's brutal leaders. Eav served as the commander of the secret prison S-21 in the Cambodian capitial Phnom Penh, which is estimated to have killed over 14,000 people in that prision alone. It is estimated that the regime killed 1.7 million people.

Today thirty years later, Kaing Guek Eav is being tried in front of a U.N.-backed tribunal just outside the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

Without hestitation we think "Justice! Finally!" However, I want us to rethink this system. We punish the guilty for crimes that we have come to comprehend as inhumane and thus we almost unconsciously dehumanize these people. I am in not way or form excusing the horrific, brutal and uncomprehendable actions of the Khmer Rouge. Instead I am questioning if justice comes in the form of punishment? Punishing the guilty has somewhat been transformed into mission of separating and locking up the "guilty" and ultimately pretending that they do not exist. Because the expensive bars of the system, we are "safe."

In the deep trenches that has become the complicated and incomprehensible area of violence, is there ever simply a "good guy" and a "bad guy"? Much to our diappointment our world does not allow us to simply "fight for" the ultimate "good". Some even may argue that violence of mind is more brutal than any degrating violent torture.

People make choices that are horrifying. They may rob others of their innocence, their courage, their faith, and their hope. However, in putting these people on trial and sentencing them to life in prison or death, is justice being achieved?

As Eav stands trial and the verdict become known, are the 1.7 million people's lives brought to justice?

What is justice?

Every person has the power to do horrendous and horrible things whether we admit it or not.

Perhaps still, the trail of Eav is unquestionibly necessary, but is it justice?

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