DUCH’S HEARING: A TURNING POINT FOR CAMBODIA
BY YOUK CHHANG
Director of Documentation Center of Cambodia
Phnom Penh - March 30, 2009
Today is a turning point for Cambodia. Today, after 30 years of waiting, Cambodians have taken a historical step. Through legal means, we are challenging impunity and moving ahead in our long journey for genocide justice. This journey is essential for us to come together as a nation. The Khmer Rouge trials are not only about justice; they are also about the Memory of Our Nation.
Duch's hearing today offers a chance for survivors and Cambodians born after the Khmer Rouge period to learn about that terrible period in our country’s history from those who were directly involved in it. There may be no single answer to what really happened. However, we all have the obligation to participate in the search for truth. Together, we can build a better understanding of our common past.
Cambodia is a deeply wounded nation after years of war and genocide. We have been a divided people for many decades, but we all share a common concern about the future of our country and the legacy we will leave our children. We need a credible legal process that will help us restore faith in justice. We also need a process that helps us feel that we are in charge of our own history.
Victims have an obligation to take responsibility and help this process be a successful one by confirming the brutality they suffered and by sharing their part of our history. This process is a crucial step forward for the healing of our nation. Reconciliation is not only about the victims or the winners but also the perpetrators. Former enemies can only reconcile in a genuine way if they are armed with the truth.
I hope the government will make it possible for all Cambodians to participate in the trial process by encouraging media throughout the country to televise the court hearing. I also hope that the government will declare a national holiday to allow everyone to spend a day to observe, reflect, and remember.