Friday, August 22, 2014

Better late than never

It only took 35 years - but two of the most prominent Khmer Rouge leaders have finally been held accountable for the atrocities inflicted on their own people. Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan went on trial the autumn of 2011, less than a week after we left Cambodia, and the verdict has only just been delivered. At the outset there were four defendants, but Ieng Sary died and his wife Ieng Thirith was declared unfit to stand trial.

As has been acknowledged, the life sentences the pair have received are academic, given both are in their eighties - but the symbolic significance of the trial and verdict is what matters. Having visited Tuol Sleng and Choeung Ek ourselves, we were appalled that no one had been held responsible for the horrors that unfolded under the Khmer Rouge's regime. Hopefully, now that a measure of justice has been done, there can be a sense of closure, and the country can move on while at the same time remaining mindful of the lessons of the past.

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