WASHINGTON DC - The US-based Applied Social Research Institute of Cambodia and the Center for Justice and Accountability will launch a campaign on the east coast to reconnect Khmer Rouge survivors in the US, following disappointment with the UN-backed tribunal in Cambodia.
“What we are trying to do is to reconnect with them on a human level,” Nou Leakhena, ASRIC director, told VOA Khmer.
The first meeting in its series will kick off this Saturday in Lowell, Mass., and continue to Philadelphia and the Virginia-Maryland area later this year.
The meetings are hoped to bring some reconciliation to Khmer Rouge survivors that has not come from the tribunal being held in Phnom Penh.
“The court is a very abstract process,” Nou Leakhena said. The ASRIC meetings, however, should help people feel like they are more than just numbers, she said. “We are trying our best to make sure that their voices are not forgotten and that their search for justice means something.”
ASRIC helped 174 complainants and civil parties file at the court. The upcoming meetings will include updates from the tribunal, which is currently trying three former Khmer Rouge leaders for atrocity crimes, in only its second case.
A fourth leader, Ieng Thirith, the former social affairs minister, was released earlier this month after she was found mentally unfit to partake in her own defense.
And while some survivors in the US believe her mental illness is the result of karma, others have been disappointed she escaped her day in court, Nou Leakhena said. “By excluding her, one part of the truth goes away with her that we will never know now,” she said.