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Researcher Describes Khmer Rouge Atrocities Against Cham Muslims


A group of Muslim men point to former Khmer Rouge leader Duch while touring the Tuol Sleng museum, file photo.

A group of Muslim men point to former Khmer Rouge leader Duch while touring the Tuol Sleng museum, file photo.

Cham Muslims were nearly wiped out under the Khmer Rouge, in what researchers say was a concerted effort by the regime leadership.

So Farina, who researches the alleged genocide of the Chams during the 1970s for the Documentation Center of Cambodia, told “Hello VOA” on Tuesday that crimes against her people included the execution of religious leaders, outlawing of religious practices, forced marriage, rape and other atrocities.

Many of these crimes will be raised in the upcoming trial of Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, who are facing atrocity crimes charges, including genocide, in an upcoming trial.

“It is what we can link to the intentions of the Khmer Rouge leaders to abolish the Cham, completely or partly,” So Farina said. That means not just crimes against humanity, but genocide, she added.

Many Chams, protective of the religion and culture, were resistant to oppression, she said. “They had the means to confront [the Khmer Rouge], and finally they were killed and fiercely tortured,” she said.

Both leaders on trial will face charges related to the treatment of the Chams, as well as Vietnamese, when their trial begins in full later this year.

So Farina said she thought the trial is an important chance to people to learn what truly happened, and to do so through due process of law. Many Chams have followed the tribunal from the beginning, but their interest may be waning, she said, “as the court process is delayed and they are busy with daily life.”

Still, they are focused on learning the truth and want a sense of justice brought by the tribunal. “That is an important point.”

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