Phnom Penh, Cambodia — Pol Pot quit the world on April 15, 1998. However, his demise does not bring closure to a history of horrors during which over a million lives were taken. Nor does his death mean a complete failure of the Khmer Rouge regime. The Communist Party of Kampuchea’s Standing Committee and Central Committee members — both full rights members and candidate members – and the high-ranking members most loyal to Pol Pot who participated in establishing the Khmer Rouge policies are somewhat in hiding today. Along with thousands of other Khmer Rouge soldiers, some of them, unfortunately, also implicated in the mass executions; these officials are taking refuge under the umbrella of “national reconciliation”. They are all trying to hide from their victims, as well as from their personal legal accountability before society and history. Though of Khmer blood and origin like their victims, the defecting Khmer Rouge leaders remain a gang of people whose brains were possible washed and sharpened with Pol Pot’s ideology. A number of the top-ranking members of this gang caused the killing and torture of people they perceived as “enemies of Angkar”.
The ideology unarguably enticed them to kill the enemies of Angkar on the ground that “If you are to eradicate grasses, you must eradicate all their roots” or “Keeping you is no gain, losing you is no loss”. This ideology continues to have a deep impact on present-day Cambodia, undermining the rebuilding of the country based on the rule of law, democracy and human rights. This ideology remains in existence, deep inside their brains; it is an invisible partner of the defecting Khmer Rouge leaders, some of them are now in the government and the military, functioning as decision-makers and setting down policies for Cambodian society. Although Pol Pot physically perished, he continues as an ideological and spiritual monster who sucks the blood and bone of the defecting Khmer Rouge leaders and threatens them to successfully implement those policies on a “100-percent Win” and “Great Leap Forwards” base.
All members of the Royal Government of Cambodia the individual three parties represented in the National Assembly and the Senate, have two obligations to address this state of affairs: 1) they must agree that any Khmer Rouge leaders be punished who are found guilty by an independent tribunal, operating according to international norms and standards, of having established, participated in establishing, or encouraged their subordinates to implement the policy of massive executions; and 2) they should provide sufficient social services in a timely manner to the families of the Khmer Rouge defectors, especially to women and children, in the form of social welfare, work assistance and education meaning that the Khmer Rouge defectors should be granted the same rights and services as other Cambodians.
A failure to address this second issue in a satisfactory manner would be tantamount to ignoring basic human needs, and indirectly allowing the Khmer Rouge defectors to live outside the rule of law in Cambodia. Moreover, failure to achieve both historical obligations not only means refusing to provide fair justice to the over one million victims put to death with such suffering and injustice; it also resembles opening Pol Pot’s coffin and allowing his corpse, in effect, to strut right out into broad daylight. And that would greatly encourage him and serve as congratulations for his continued victory. We must not allow Pol Pot this posthumous victory.
Youk Chhang, Director
Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam)
P.O. Box 1110
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tel: (855) 23-211-875
Fax: (855) 23-210-358