Getting Away with Genocide?: Elusive Justice and the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Paperback – 20 Oct 2004
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This book will be essential reading for academics, diplomats, journalists, Cambodia specialists and others who follow the Khmer Rouge trial closely. It will also be of special interest to those who follow other international criminal proceedings concerned with genocide and crimes against humanity. Arguments over the Cambodian model for a 'mixed' tribunal (domestic in form but international in character) will continue for years to come. This book explains how this unique model was created and why. The diplomatic, legal and technical twists and turns detailed here are fascinating, instructive and, at times, alarming. For years to come - as the Khmer Rouge trial unfolds or collapses - scholars and commentators are going to find much in this book to inform their analysis of what happened and why. (Bill Herod, head of a social service agency in Phnom Penh and a development worker in Cambodia for over thirty years)
This book is an insider's account of the twenty-five year struggle to bring the Khmer Rouge to justice. Until 1991, the morally bankrupt real-politik of the West not only supported seating the Khmer Rouge in the United Nations, but opposed trying them for their crimes. Over a decade later, a Cambodian - United Nations tribunal is about to convene, if Western governments will donate the money to support it. After this past decade's trillion dollar wars, is sixty million dollars too much to ask to try the remaining leaders of a regime that murdered two million of its own people? This book could not be more timely. (Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, Founder of The Cambodian Genocide Project and President of Genocide Watch)
About the Author
Tom Fawthrop is a British journalist who has covered South East Asia, including Cambodia, for major newspapers and journals since 1979. His reports have appeared in the Economist,the Guardian, the London Sunday Times and he has contributed to BBC radio and TV. He produced and directed the TV documentary 'Dreams & Nightmares' shown on Channel 4 in 1989.
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This is a book about an unwritten story: Why in twenty five years has no Khmer Rouge faced criminal trial? Before Tom Fawthrop and Helen Jarvis no one has grappled with this question. Perhaps the explanation is so terribly tangled? Perhaps the answers are too embarrassing to the world's major powers? Perhaps the Cambodians themselves are guilty of willful obfuscation?
"Getting Away with Genocide?" is a richly instructive case study of judicial frustration. (One wonders about the question mark in the title. It suggests the authors' hope for even late-arriving prosecutions. But the old legal saw "Justice delayed is justice denied" seems as cogent in Cambodia as anywhere you would care to look.)
As Briton and Australian, Fawthrop and Jarvis, respectively, are well positioned to identify responsibility. More than ten years of the impunity enjoyed by the Khmer Rouge can be traced to diplomatic support provided Pol Pot's regime by the United States. The U.S. pressured the UN to continue recognizing Democratic Kampuchea, both alone and in coalition with allied forces hunkered down in Thailand and sustained by the CIA. Simultaneously, as the authors carefully document, China, a permanent Security Council member, funneled huge sums of money to the Khmer Rouge through its Bangkok embassy.
Meanwhile during this period (1979-1991), the world became increasingly informed of the magnitude of Cambodia's horror. First came fragmentary reports; then a swiftly composed Phnom Penh tribunal in August 1979 made a first attempt at systematically presenting evidence of Khmer Rouge crimes to the public, inside Cambodian and internationally. By 1984, with the debut of the film "The Killing Fields," no one could claim ignorance. (Director Roland Joffe contributes a highly useful Forward to the book.)
In 1991, the Paris Peace Agreement was signed calling for Cambodian elections. This, unhappily, failed to advance perceptibly the cause of prosecuting the Khmer Rouge. Rather, for almost another ten years, the parties, both Cambodian and international, began to wrangle over a series of tribunal proposals. Who should decide upon indictments? How would the tribunal be composed? What would be the time frame for the accusations? And, who should bear the costs? Moves and counter-moves get painstakingly traced, as the authors describe what might at times be considered Prime Minister Hun Sen's faltering enthusiasm for prosecution. Yet they are also sympathetic to a stubborn Cambodian suspicion, given past history, toward outside efforts to control a tribunal in the name of "international credibility."
Today there is some progress toward convening a "mixed tribunal," that is, one with Cambodian and international participation. As developments toward this goal go forward, "Getting Away with Genocide?" is essential reading.
Jan 30, 2005
At long last, a time for healing
By Verghese Mathews
For The Straits Times
CAMBODIANS have not failed to notice that while the international community rightly poured out its heart and its resources to assist victims of the tsunami disaster, the same community has been largely blind, indifferent and uncaring when it comes to victims of the Cambodian genocide.
This stark message jumps at you from the pages of a new book on Cambodia's quest for justice following the three years, eight months and 20 dark and terrifying days of the Khmer Rouge (KR).
Authored by British journalist Tom Fawthrop and Australian academic Helen Jarvis, Getting Away With Genocide? Elusive Justice And Khmer Rouge Tribunal is a detailed insider account of the tortuous process of bringing the Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.
Fawthrop has covered the region for leading newspapers, including The Straits Times, for the last 25 years. Jarvis, previously with the University of New South Wales and documentation consultant for Yale University's Cambodian Genocide Programme, has, since 1999, been an adviser to the Cambodian Task Force on the KR Trials.
The plaintive cry in the book is why, after a quarter of a century following the 1979 ouster of the Pol Pot regime by invading Vietnamese forces, none of the perpetrators has been brought to court to answer for the crimes which led to the death of an estimated 1.7 million people, a quarter of the then population of Cambodia.
Fawthrop and Jarvis, both of whom I know personally, hold very strong views on this unacceptable delay. They point to the 'abysmal record' of the United Nations, the 'bitter record of neglect' of the international community and the 'dismal record of complicity' of certain countries with the KR, all of which the authors declare delayed justice.
The writing in this book is opinionated, but this should not detract from its evident and immense scholarship and research.
My quarrel with the authors is that in their almost evangelical criticism of the attitude of the UN and the international community in preventing the then newly installed Phnom Penh government from taking over Cambodia's seat in the UN, and in their disappointment that no western country so much as sent a fact-finding mission to Phnom Penh following the ouster of Pol Pot, they have failed to give adequate _expression to the complex international and regional dynamism which drove the then bipolar world.
There is mention, in passing, that for the United States the choice was simply between moral principles and international law and that the scales weighed in favour of the latter because it served US security interests. But the brevity of the comment suggests that it was included merely to give the appearance of a balanced criticism.
That aside, the authors are right in their anger and disappointment that the KR Tribunal, when it finally takes place probably some time this year, will mark one of the longest struggles to bring genocide perpetrators to justice.
But it is a case of better late than never, though only six or seven are expected to appear in court. The legal text agreed between Cambodia and the UN states that the Tribunal is expected 'to bring to trial senior leaders of Democratic Kampuchea and those who were most responsible for the serious crimes and violations of Cambodian penal law, international humanitarian law and custom, and international conventions recognised by Cambodia that were committed during the period' from April 17, 1975 to Jan 6, 1979.
Still, there is sufficient latitude in the law for justice to be finally served. The authors rightly point out that 'one of the great expectations' of the Cambodian people is that the Tribunal will serve not only to mete out punishment, but also help to provide answers that bring collective healing and closure.
Unfortunately, some of the people who could have provided answers are gone. Pol Pot, Brother No. 1, died unceremoniously in April 1998. Son Sen, his defense minister with responsibility over the infamous Tuol Sleng Prison, is likewise dead.
Among their senior colleagues still alive, most are suffering from some ailment or another.
The fear is that these potential witnesses might die before the Tribunal. Of these, the most senior is Nuon Chea, Brother No. 2, believed to have been the most powerful official after Pol Pot. He surrendered to the government in 1998 and lives quietly in the former KR stronghold of Pailin.
Also living freely and much more comfortably is Ieng Sary, well known internationally as the deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs. He defected to the Hun Sen government in 1996 and brought with him several thousand guerillas, effectively breaking whatever strength there was left in the KR.
Then there is Khieu Samphan, who held several senior positions including that of PM and party president. He defected together with Nuon Chea in 1998 and lives modestly in Pailin close to Nuon Chea's house.
In prison are two notables who were captured by the security forces. One is Ta Mok, who in a leadership tussle in 1997 wrested control from Pol Pot but was forced to flee a year later when he was himself challenged. The other is the infamous Duch, who ran the secret police. Duch has just been taken from his cell to a government hospital for prostate surgery.
Ta Mok and Duch have much to tell and some commentators believe that they will. We will have to wait to see if this will come to pass, hopefully not for too long.
Fawthrop and Jarvis have contributed an extremely well-researched and fascinating book which is a welcome addition to the existing body of literature on contemporary Cambodia. With the date for the Tribunal getting closer, this work will prove to be a most useful resource.
The writer, a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, was Singapore's Ambassador to Cambodia from June 2000 to July 2004 when much of the negotiations for the KR Tribunal took place.
There are no city lights twinkling on the other side of the river. Only now is development of that area beginning. The long row of Vietnamese floating homes there were cut loose and floated downstream. There are not now and never were "innumerable little brothels" across the river.
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