Tag Archives: Nuon Chea

200 Khmer Rouge Tribunal Workers Strike for Unpaid Wages

Khmer Rouge Legacy

Khmer Rouge Legacy (Photo credit: NewportPreacher)

Nearly 200 Cambodian workers at the Khmer Rouge tribunal have gone on strike to protest unpaid salaries.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers are due to file closing submissions for the trial’s first phase by September 19, with oral arguments to begin October 16. A prolonged strike could hold up translation and administrative work and delay this timetable.

Cambodian authorities – technically obliged to bankroll the court’s domestic arm – have largely relied on foreign donors to pay the bill, while the U.N. is responsible for up keeping the court’s international arm.

The Khmer Rouge, a radical Marxist movement, came to power in Cambodia in the aftermath of the Vietnam war and sought to create an agricultural utopia in the Southeast Asian nation. The Communist group killed educated citizens and forced urban residents to move to rural collectives, failed spectacularly. About one-quarter of the country’s population perished from starvation, disease, overwork and executions.

The proceedings against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan is the tribunal’s second trial, which has already lost two of its original four defendants since it started in 2011. Ieng Sary, foreign minister during the Khmer Rouge regime, died at age 87 in March. His wife, Ieng Thirith, the regime’s social affairs minister now aged 81, was released last year after being deemed unfit to stand trial due to severe dementia. Trial observers and victims groups fear that Nuon and Khieu could die before their trial is completed.

The tribunal’s only conviction occurred in 2010, when former prison chief Kaing Guek Eav was found guilty of crimes against humanity relating to the torture and deaths of about 15,000 people. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge officer, has opposed further indictments.

Via WSJ.

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Khmer Rouge Leader: Duch “Very Bad” for Not Destroying Evidence

A shrine containing the bones of those killed at the Khmer Rouge killing fields outside Phnom Penh. Photo by Lindsay.

A convicted ex-jailer told the Khmer Rouge tribunal that a top leader accused him three decades ago of being “very bad” for failing to destroy evidence at his prison.

The U.N.-backed court sentenced Duch (pronounced “Doik”) to life in prison for overseeing the deaths of 15,000 people at the S-21 torture prison in Phnom Penh.

Duch is back on the stand this week to testify in the trial of three ex-leaders of the 1975-1979 regime, including his former boss “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea.

Duch informed Mr. Nuon in the 1980s that he left the documents behind during the last days of the regime, when Vietnamese forces ousted the Khmer Rouge.

Duch recalled that Mr. Nuon then told him: “On my side, we destroyed them all, you were very bad that you could not manage this.”

The documents included hundreds of confessions and photos of tortured prisoners that were later used as evidence against Duch.

Mr. Nuon and Duch, who are held at the same detention center, are on bad terms.

Mr. Nuon, ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary, and former head of state Khieu Samphan, deny charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Khmer Rouge wiped out nearly a quarter of the population through starvation, overwork, and execution.

Via The Bangkok Post.

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Khmer Rouge Prison Chief Testifies against Former Party Leaders

Kang Kek Iew 2009

Kang Kek Iew 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Khmer Rouge’s chief jailer began a week of testimony Monday at Cambodia’s U.N.-backed tribunal against three of the regime’s surviving leaders.

It was the first courtroom appearance by Kaing Guek Eav (known as Duch) since February, when the tribunal’s appeals court sentenced him to life imprisonment for committing “shocking and heinous” crimes against the Cambodian people.

The three senior Khmer Rouge figures on trial are eighty-five-year-old Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge’s chief ideologist and “Brother Number Two”; eighty-year-old Khieu Samphan, an ex-head of state; and Ieng Sary, the eighty-six-year-old former foreign minister.

All three are accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, religious persecution, homicide, and torture.

Unlike Duch, who admitted his role in the killings and asked for forgiveness, the three say they did no wrong.

Duch commanded Phnom Penh‘s top-secret Tuol Sleng prison, where up to 16,000 people were tortured before being sent for execution at the “killing fields.”

During Monday’s court appearance he wore a prison uniform. A judge ordered security to let him wear civilian clothing for the rest of his testimony.

Via the Associated Press.

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Khmer Rouge Tribunal Has New Special Expert

The United Nations has named a new special expert to advise the Khmer Rouge trials in Cambodia.

David Scheffer, the former US ambassador-at-large for war crime issues, is ”very well qualified to provide expert advice”, the UN said in a statement released on Wednesday.

He replaces Clint Williamson, whose term expired on September 30, 2011.

The UN-backed genocide court is seeking justice for almost two million deaths under the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.

Ieng Sary pre-trial detention hearing on 11 Fe...

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Mr. Scheffer was involved in the establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, said the UN statement. He also helped set up the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Court, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

In November 2011, three top Khmer Rouge leaders, Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary, went on trial for crimes committed during the regime’s rule.

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Khmer Rouge Defense Questions Prime Minister’s Comments

5 December 2011

Image by Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia via Flickr

Defence lawyers for former Khmer Rouge Brother Number Two Nuon Chea criticized remarks made by Prime Minister Hun Sen about their client.

Co-defence counsel for Nuon Chea Michiel Pestman said in court that the remarks by Hun Sen, quoted by a journalist at a press conference in Vietnam last week, referred to Nuon Chea as a “killer” and described his statement in court last month as “deceitful”.

“This is a very clear statement about the guilt of Nuon Chea by a high government official,” Mr. Pestman said in court. He said in court that the journalist had quoted Hun Sen as allegedly calling their client “a killer and a perpetrator of genocide”. He told the court that the comments violate his client’s right to a fair trial and that it was “not up to the Prime Minister to decide whether my client is guilty”.

Ek Tha, representative at the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers, declined to comment on the premier’s alleged comments.

Nuon Chea is facing trial for genocide, crimes against humanity, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

Via the Phnom Penh Post.

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Khmer Rouge: “Bad People”?

5 December 2011

Image by Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia via Flickr

You may remember reading last week that the number two leader of Cambodia’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime told a court in Phnom Penh he and his comrades were not “bad people.”

Nuon Chea, deputy of Pol Pot and one of three Maoist leaders accused of crimes against humanity at a UN-backed tribunal, denied any wrongdoing.

This must be news to the remaining relatives of the estimated 2 million Cambodians who died during the Khmer Rouge’s 1970s reign of terror.

The Khmer Rouge were efficient, cold-blooded murderers.

After they assumed full control in 1975, they ordered concrete poured into Phnom Penh’s sewers. They turned off the water and electricity and emptied the hospitals of patients.

They announced Year Zero and all history of what they called Democratic Kampuchea was to begin from that moment onwards.

“Dear Leader” Pol Pot’s agrarian revolution required the abandonment of the capital and movement of all city dwellers to the countryside.

Tens of thousands of men, women and children, everyone from the young to grandparents, were marched into the fields. Those who fell by the wayside were shot on the spot. No time for burials. Relatives just had to keep marching.

The Khmer Rouge asked anyone wearing glasses to step to one side. They were shot. In their perverted belief system, anyone with glasses was an intellectual, to be killed.

Soft hands? You were unaccustomed to the toil of the proletariat and shot.

Speak a foreign language? Possess a university degree? Pregnant or carrying a child? All executed by the roadside.

So, in a way, Nuon Chea is right. The Khmer Rouge weren’t “bad people”.

They were far worse. They robbed a country of an entire generation. They deserve to pay for their foul work.

The trial of Nuon Chea continues this week.

Adapted from The Toronto Sun. There, Simon Kent wrote a startling account of seeing Phnom Penh in the early 1990s. I highly recommend clicking here to read his observations.

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Nuon Chea: Khmer Rouge Not “Bad People”

The Number Two leader of Cambodia’s brutal Khmer Rouge regime told a court he and his comrades were not “bad people,” denying responsibility Monday for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians during their 1975-1979 rule.

Nuon Chea’s defiant statements came as the U.N.-backed tribunal began questioning him for the first time since the long-awaited trial of three top regime leaders began late last month.

Nuon Chea and two other Khmer Rouge leaders are accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, religious persecution, homicide and torture stemming from the group’s reign of terror. All have denied wrongdoing.

Via the Associated Press.

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Khmer Rouge Leader Calls Accusations Against Him a “Fairy Tale”

Khieu Samphan at a public hearing before the P...

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A Khmer Rouge leader insisted Wednesday he had no authority during the regime’s rule of Cambodia and allegations he bore responsibility for its atrocities were a “fairy tale.”

Head of state Khieu Samphan told a tribunal he was a figurehead who never joined key policy meetings in the radical communist government, which is accused of orchestrating the “killing fields” and causing the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians in the 1970s.

In his rebuttal, he said the prosecutors’ opening remarks were exaggerations based mainly on unreliable old news reports and books.

After the trial of Khieu Samphan and two other leaders opened Monday, prosecutors described the pitiless policies the Khmer Rouge imposed to build an agrarian utopia.

The tribunal is seeking justice on behalf of the quarter of Cambodia’s population who died from executions, starvation, disease and overwork under the Khmer Rouge rule.

The defendants are the most senior surviving members of the regime: Khieu Samphan; Nuon Chea, the group’s chief ideologist; and former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary. They are charged with crimes against humanity, genocide, persecution, homicide, and torture.

The Khmer Rouge’s supreme leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998 in Cambodia’s jungles while a prisoner of his own comrades.

Khieu Samphan stressed the nationalist credentials of the Khmer Rouge, who opposed French colonialism, fought against a pro-Western regime and its U.S. backers, and finally forced a showdown with neighboring Vietnam.

Mr. Khieu’s French lawyer, Jacques Verges, dismissed the prosecution statements as similar to the novels of Alexandre Dumas, author of dashing adventure yarns.

Khieu Samphan has said he has known Verges since he attended university in France in the 1950s, when both were active in student movements against French colonialism.

“He and I used to attend meetings of student committees against colonialism. That’s what bound us together in friendship,” Mr. Khieu said in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press.

Verges has defended Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal and Nazi Gestapo officer Klaus Barbie and is noted for a slashing, sarcastic courtroom style, aimed as much at discrediting the judicial establishment as getting his clients off the hook.

Khieu Samphan, along with Verges, reminded the court that intensive U.S. bombing of his country during the Vietnam War contributed to its misery. “Can you imagine what my country faced after such bloody killing and war?” Mr. Khieu declared.

While decrying the case against him, Khieu Samphan added that he welcomed the opportunity to explain his role to the Cambodian public.

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Khmer Rouge Leader Says Crimes Were to Prevent Vietnamese Takeover of Cambodia

The Khmer Rouge revolution in the 1970s was aimed at freeing Cambodia from colonialism and protecting it from invasion by Vietnam, the party’s ideologue, Nuon Chea, said on Tuesday, opening his defense against a charge of genocide.

The testimony marked the first time a leader of the Khmer Rouge defended the motives of the regime since the U.N.-backed court started to try cases last year. The bloody “Killing Fields” revolution wiped out a quarter of the population from 1975-1979.

Former President Khieu Samphan, ex-Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, and “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea are charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.

Nuon Chea, the first defendant to take the stand, denied all the charges. “My position in the revolution was to serve the interests of the nation and people,” he said. He added:

Oppression, injustice compelled me to devote myself to fight for my country. I had to leave my family behind to liberate my motherland from colonialism and aggression, and oppression by the thieves who wished to steal our land and wipe Cambodia off the face of the earth.

Vietnam wanted to “swallow” Cambodia, Nuon Chea said.

The army of the communist party of Vietnam and Vietnam cadres still remain discreetly on Cambodian soil … with the ambition of occupying, swallowing Cambodia and getting rid of Cambodia, of her race and ethnicity, bringing in Vietnamese immigrants illegally to live in Cambodia to this day.

Prosecutors say as many as 2.2 million people were killed under the Khmer Rouge, which was forced from power when Vietnam invaded in 1979. Remnants of the Khmer Rouge fought on until the 1990s.

Pol Pot, the French-educated architect of the “Year Zero” revolution, died in 1998.

A fourth defendant, former Social Affairs Minister Ieng Thirith, was declared unfit for trial last week. She remains in detention pending an appeal by prosecutors.

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Opening Statements Begin against Three Senior Khmer Rouge Officials

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Opening statements in the United Nations-backed trial of Khmer Rouge leaders began today with a detailed account of the atrocities of a regime responsible for the deaths of one-fourth of Cambodia’s population. Though the accusations were familiar, their presentation in a coherent narrative, studded with examples, was powerful and caused some Cambodians to shed tears.

The three defendants, former leaders of the Khmer Rouge, listened as a prosecutor, Chea Leang, accused them of turning the country into “a massive slave camp producing an entire nation of prisoners living under a system of brutality that defies belief.”

This trial, involving a roster of witnesses, is the centerpiece of the prosecution of leading figures in the Khmer Rouge under a U.N.-Cambodian tribunal established in 2003.

The defendants include Nuon Chea, the party’s chief ideologue, who received reports and gave directions as to “who would be arrested and who would be killed.” One witness who will testify to receiving these instructions is Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, the commandant of the movement’s main prison, who was sentenced in July 2010 to thirty-five years in jail, later commuted to nineteen.

A second defendant is Ieng Sary, the foreign minister, who recalled Cambodian diplomats from embassies abroad and ordered their arrests and executions. Mr. Ieng said at one point, “I am very regretful for the deaths of the intellectuals because I was the one who gathered them to come home and help build the country.”

The third defendant is Khieu Samphan, the head of state, whom Mr. Cayley accused of having knowledge and involvement in the Khmer Rouge crimes despite his claims to have been unaware of the atrocities around him.

The defendants, visibly aged since they were arrested in 2007, mostly appeared to be following the hearing: Mr. Nuon wearing the dark glasses that have become his trademark; Mr. Khieu looking intently, sometimes with his chin in his hands; and Mr. Ieng, who seemed alternately to listen and doze.

At one point, Mr. Ieng tried to rise from his seat and leave the courtroom, but a guard prevented him. Mr. Ieng has said that he would not take part in the trial.

In a daylong presentation, Ms. Chea, the co-prosecutor, asserted that the atrocities were part of an “organized and systematic” system with a “high level of integration” that kept the defendants constantly informed of the actions of their subordinates at all levels. “These crimes were committed in accordance with the Communist Party center,” she said. “The accused participated in the giving of these orders or were fully aware of the crimes. They failed to act in their capacity as superiors to prevent the crimes or to punish the perpetrators.”

Her statements and those of Mr. Cayley emphasized a crucial accusation, that the defendants were engaged in a “joint criminal enterprise” in which they had knowledge of and supported the implementation of a common criminal plan.

“None of the accused here ever soiled his hands with blood,” Mr. Cayley said, “but all set in motion a series of policies which unleashed an ocean of blood.”

The three men are charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

Mr. Cayley broke down the accusations into five categories. Among these are the forced evacuation of two million residents from Phnom Penh; enslavement of people in work sites and agricultural cooperatives where many died of overwork; and use of violence to eliminate perceived enemies through a nationwide network of 200 re-education and security offices like Tuol Sleng, the main Khmer Rouge prison.

The prosecutors will focus on the targeting of ethnic Cham and Vietnamese and the crushing of the Buddhist religion, which are the bases for the charge of genocide, and the practice of forced marriage, involving rape and the abuse of women.

“These were not unauthorized, random crimes,” Ms. Chea Leang said. “The Khmer Rouge leadership, which included the three defendants, was kept constantly informed by periodic reports,” she said, and were “often directly involved in purges.”

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