issue 242 - April 1993
for mass murder, genocide and war crimes
Pol Pot: alias ‘Brother No 1’; Secretary General of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, Prime Minister of the Khmer Rouge state of ‘Democratic Kampuchea’, 1976-1979; chiefly responsible for the deaths of at least 1.5 million Cambodians 1975-1979.
Ieng Sary: alias ‘Van’; Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister 1975-1979; Pol Pot’s brother-in-law.
Son Sen: alias ‘Khieu’; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, 1975-1979; Pol Pot’s chief military strategist; Khmer Rouge delegate to ‘Supreme National Council’ under the UN Peace Accords.
Khieu Samphan: alias ‘Hem’; President of the Khmer Rouge state, 1976-1979; front man for Pol Pot at the UN; Khmer Rouge delegate to ‘Supreme National Council’ under the UN Peace Accords.
Also Nuon Chea, alias ‘Brother No 2’, Deputy Secretary General of the Communist Party; Ke Pauk, Undersecretary General of the Armed Forces; Mok, alias ‘The Butcher of Kampuchea’, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces; Ieng Thirith, alias ‘Phea’, Minister of Social Affairs.
The Pol Pot regime perpetrated genocide in Cambodia, causing the death of 1.5 million out of 8 million Cambodians in four years from 1975 to 1979. It breached the UN Genocide Convention in the persecution and slaughter of three categories of victims: ethnic or racial minorities, a part of the majority Khmer national group and religious groups like the 60,000 Buddhist monks.
The largest minority groups in Cambodia were the Vietnamese, the Chinese and the Muslim Chams. Most of the 450,000 ethnic Vietnamese community had been expelled by the US-backed Lon Nol regime in 1970, when bodies first floated down the Mekong. More were driven out by Pol Pot in 1975. The rest were murdered.
Cambodia’s ethnic Chinese suffered the worst disaster ever to befall the Chinese Diaspora in South-East Asia. Of 425,000 only half survived. Systematic discrimination extended to bans on the Chinese language – like all foreign and minority languages – and on any distinguishable Chinese community.
The Muslim Chams numbered 250,000 in 1975. The Pol Pot army emptied all 113 Cham villages in Cambodia. 90,000 Chams were massacred and the survivors dispersed. Islamic schools and religion, and the Cham language, were banned. Of the 113 Cham leaders only 21 survived in 1979 and only 25 of their 226 deputies.
Of the majority Khmers, 15 per cent of the rural population had perished by 1979 and 25 per cent of the urban. The most horrific slaughter was in the last six months of Khmer Rouge rule, in the purge of the politically suspect Eastern Zone, bordering Vietnam. My own interviews with 90 survivors suggest a toll of at least 100,000 killed, probably many more.
Of a total of 2,680 Buddhist monks from just eight of Cambodia’s 3,000 monasteries only 70 monks were found by a detailed study to have survived in 1979. A 1975 Pol Pot document boasted: ‘Monasteries... are largely abandoned. The foundation pillars of Buddhism... have disintegrated [and] will dissolve further. The political base, the economic base, the cultural base must be uprooted.’ This is evidence of genocidal intent. Buddhism was completely suppressed from 1975 to 1979. And only last July Khmer Rouge guerrillas mortared a Cambodian Buddhist monastery in Siemreap province, killing one monk, injuring three others and destroying the temple.
The UN itself equivocates on the genocide issue. In November 1992 the UN’s Special Representative in Cambodia, Yasushi Akashi, actually twisted on a double euphemism, describing ‘the policies and practices of the past’ as ‘a euphemism for the gross human rights violations which Cambodia has experienced in recent decades’. There was no specific reference to the Khmer Rouge.
Legal action in the World Court under the Genocide Convention has always faced Chinese and US opposition. But the US and Australia now say they are prepared to support a court case in Cambodia to bring the Khmer Rouge to justice for their crimes. Britain has yet to state a view.
The Campaign to Oppose the Return of the Khmer Rouge (CORKR) welcomes donations. See Action page overleaf for more details.