Khmer Times/Mom Sophon Wednesday, 19 April 2017 2632 views

Remembering genocidal Year Zero

Approximately 100 monks, opposition lawmakers and victims of the Khmer Rouge took part in a traditional ceremony at the Killing Fields on Monday to mark 42 years since the deadly regime swept to power.
 

Speakers gave moving accounts of how the regime devastated their lives, with the loss of family members, starvation and forced labor.
 

Nearly two million Cambodians, or a quarter of the population, were killed at the hands of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979.
 

CNRP vice president Pol Ham said the gathering was held to remember the dead and prevent such a tragedy happening again.
 

Mr. Ham said, “It is our hope to eliminate this kind of oppression and disrespect for human rights in the future.”
 

He argued all political party leaders must learn from history.
 

He said, “When they had power, the Khmer Rouge thought they could do anything they wanted; kill, jail, interrogate and torture. But did they think their power would last forever? What would they have thought if people had tortured their wives and children?”
 

Chan Kim Suon, a 73-year-old victim of the Khmer Rouge, cried as she described how she was imprisoned, forced to work and starved, while she lost her husband, children and siblings to the regime.
 

Ms. Kim Suon said, “Do you want a repeat of the Khmer Rouge? I know I don’t want that. The regime made me suffer so much. My children, husband and brothers were all murdered. I still don’t know where they took my two brothers to kill.”
 

Prime Minister Hun Sen also recalled his suffering in a social media post, but said he hadn’t wanted to bring up painful memories when people were trying to enjoy Khmer New Year.
 

He said, “Forty-two years ago on April 16, I was wounded and lost the sight in my left eye. As a 23-year-old, the loss of my eye was physically and mentally painful, but I wanted to stand up for peace and the survival of the nation.”
 

The prime minister called on all Cambodians to maintain peace and prevent war from happening in the country again.
 

Senior leaders of the regime are finally being brought to justice through the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
 

Kaing Guek Eav alias Duch, the man who ran Tuol Sleng prison, was last year sentenced to life imprisonment in case 001 for crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
 

Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan – the two most senior Khmer Rouge officials still alive – were also sentenced to life imprisonment in case 002/01 for crimes against humanity over the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh in 1975.

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