Justice and the Cambodian Genocide : fighting silence
Cambodia has suffered from “national amnesia” since 1979. Prime Minister Hun Sen, in power since 1985, has strongly urged Cambodians to bury the past. A generalized silence about the genocide committed by the Khmer rouge has therefore reigned for three decades.
Initiatives by civil society organizations have seen the situation begin to change in 2009. A desire to teach about the genocide and to reconcile Cambodians has since appeared in school curricula.
At the same time, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) began the work of prosecuting criminals in 2007. Despite the scope and nature of the crimes, only five of those responsible were prosecuted, and only one was punished: Duch, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012.
Verbatim extract from a Cambodian textbook on the subject of the Khmer rouge crimes, dating from before 2009
“Between April 25 and April 27, 1975, the Khmer rouge leaders convened a special congress to draw up a new constitution and to rename the country Democratic Kampuchea. A new government, led by Pol Pot, was installed, following which Cambodians were slaughtered.”