Cambodia: Reactions as Duch opens Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch, stands trial today at the UN-supported Khmer Rouge Genocide Tribunal in Phnom Penh for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Duch headed the infamous Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh, where over 12,000 people died, according to the Guardian.

KI-Media leads with a story from the BBC, focusing on Duch's biography.

Duch was born Kaing Guek Eav in the central province of Kampong Thom in the early 1940s.
He excelled at mathematics and so won places at top schools. After graduation he studied for his teaching certificate in Phnom Penh. It was there that he met students from China and became drawn to communist ideology. Later he became a high school teacher, earning a reputation as a tough and exacting instructor.

CAAI News Media posts an article that places the number of dead from Tuol Sleng at 16,000.

Duch headed the S-21 detention and torture centre in Phnom Penh, where more than 16,000 so-called enemies of the regime were tortured and then led to their executions. Only a handful survived.

The BBC gathered reactions from Cambodians, including a statement from Sothea Thai, a 30-year-old web editor in Cambodia's capital. Thai expressed a desire for answers:

Frankly, my family did not lose anyone during that regime. So maybe my feeling is different from people who lost their loved ones. But what is most important to me is a clear explanation of the history of that time.

Kounila Keo struggles to reconcile the murders with her country's history.

I am really asking myself if I myself can forgive such a person who has killed so many people without blinks. I've thought about this because as a Cambodian, I was too overwhelmed to believe this surreal past of my country— that not many countries in this world experience. Once great, once bleak, once rise, once fall.


  • I echo Kounila’s reluctance to forgive a person who was responsible for the repugnant torture and death of thousands. Perhaps it is the sheer magnitude of the murders and knowledge of countless innocent victims; it is difficult to forgive such acts.

    Interestingly, the trial captured headlines all around the world. But sadly, most young Cambodians have tuned out the tribunal and the symbolic significance of the event.


    • Beyond a show trial, it is justice denied to the countless victims. We who are well-aware of the history of the KR, will recognize that US, China, and Vietnam are culpable as well as all of the top leaders of the KR.

      History books and lessons should account for the key individuals with bloodstains on their hands; the 5 KR architects and their international enablers.

      Nonetheless, their is some significance in the fact that we can perhaps close a dark page in Cambodia’s history- if the defendants do stand trial until the end.

      Pingback: The attitudes of most youths do not reflect Victor’s sentiments. Rather, I speculate it is the social and economic condition of young Cambodians that deprive them of information and interests in national affairs.

      -Joe who sees the glass half-empty:)

  • […] online news,  and here are some of them like BBC, CNN, Reuters, ABC, MSNBC, The New York Time , Global Vioce, the Gardian, Channelsnewsasian , and Strait Times, to the local news in many of the […]

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