Duch’s Verdict

by socheata on July 27, 2010

Yesterday, I gathered at the site of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (the ECCC) to listen to the judgment of Duch, the former commander of S-21, the regime’s most infamous prison and torture center. Hundreds of Cambodians, from near and far, and journalists gathered to witness this historic moment.

As the judge read the summary of Duch’s guilty verdict, I was moved to hear the narrative of his crimes. Although I had read of and heard an account of the crimes of S-21 many times in books and films, hearing the legal summary helped to legitimize and validate the suffering of victims like those in my family. I was glad this was now entering the official historical and legal record.

A generation since the Khmer Rouge years, some survivors still have a hard time understanding what happened to them. They wonder if it was as bad as they remember it. Some start to downplay the impact of what happened. After all, everyone them kno went through similar trauma. Maybe their story isn’t so remarkable.

But to hear the judge utter these terms – “extermination,” “torture,” “murder,” and “crimes against humanity” – it did help to acknowledge that Khmer Rouge survivors are victims of humanity’s greatest crimes.

Like most Cambodians, I was upset, however, by two things – the reparations and verdict.

As far as I can tell, the reparations to victims amounts to a compilation of Duch’s apologies which were negated by his last-ditch request for acquittal.

Further, the remaining sentence for Duch of 19 years means he could be freed in his lifetime.

Cambodians have no faith in the justice system. I cling to some shred of hope that the ECCC prosecutors have strategically lessened Duch’s sentence in order to gain his cooperation for the upcoming prosecution of higher-ranking KR leaders.

The victims, civil parties, all Cambodians were so despondent yesterday. I hope that the ECCC eventually redeems itself.

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More Than a Number

by socheata on May 31, 2010

We are so proud to share Khmer Legacies testimonies at the More Than a Number Exhibit running now at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA. You can view the film below. [Read More & Watch the Video!]

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3rd Annual Taste of Southeast Asia

by socheata on May 24, 2010

Our annual fundraising event in New York City to mark Cambodian New Year was a big success! We raised $7500 thanks to our guests and sponsors. Thank you to all of our sponsors including World Foods, Chef King Phojanakong of Umi Nom & Kuma Inn, Chef Chris Johnson of Bao Noodles & Wa Sake, Bennett Media Studios, Fresh Ginger Ginger AleTang’s Natural Dumplings, Singha Beer, Monsoon Valley Wines, Golden Star Sparking Tea, Beer Lao, and WorldtoTable.com

[Read More & Watch the Video!]

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Tanzania – Genocide Prevention Forum

by socheata on March 13, 2010

I just returned from Tanzania where I spoke at the Second Regional Forum on Genocide Prevention, sponsored by the governments of Switzerland, Argentina and Tanzania. The private conference was full of dignitaries including Dr. Francis Deng, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, the former President of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa, and Dr. Edward Luck, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on the Responsibility to visit us.

It was a huge honor to be invited to speak to these policy makers about Cambodia and genocide prevention. I’ve never been in a room where every time someone opens their mouth, they must begin with “Excellencies, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen.”

(From left to right: me, Eduardo Acevedo Diaz; Director General for Human Rights and Interim, Argentina; Rodolfo Matarollo; Advisor of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Argentina; Edward Luck, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on the Responsibility to visit us.)

I came to respect the mature dialogue among many African countries about the need to prevent genocide in their region. It was a very encouraging display of progress.

Thank you so much to Prof. Andrea Bartoli and Mo Bleeker, Director of Political Affairs, Switzerland for extending the honor to me.

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Rosie Radio

by socheata on February 9, 2010

I’m going to be interviewed about New Year Baby and Khmer Legacies on Rosie Radio on Monday, Feb. 15. Here’s information about where to tune in:

Listen to Rosie Radio
Mon – Fri: 10 am ET – 12 pm ET

Rebroadcasts (All times ET):
Mon – Fri: 12 pm – 2 pm & 8 pm – 10 pm
Sat – Sun: 8 am – 10 am, 2 pm – 4 pm & 8 pm – 10 pm

on SIRIUS Ch. 102 & XM Ch. 155

Listen 24/7 Online
SIR Ch. 815 | XMRO Ch. 94

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