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CPP Prepares for Contentious Anniversary

The Cambodian People’s Party will commemorate the 30thanniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge at a ceremony at Olympic Stadium Thursday, under criticism from Human Rights Watch and Cambodian political parties that justice remains elusive for Khmer Rouge leaders and a culture of impunity remains.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said more than 10,000 people are expected to participate in the ceremony, which commemorates the day when forces of Vietnamese-backed groups ousted the Khmer Rouge from Phnom Penh.

Starting Wednesday morning, senior officials, guests and observers will gather at Olympic Stadium for speeches by key leaders and a procession inside the stadium of CPP officials and other supporters from Phnom Penh and the provinces.

The day is a “second birthday” for Cambodians, “so the people never forget, and they remember who liberated them from the Khmer Rouge,” he said.

The Khmer Rouge held power in Phnom Penh from April 17, 1975, until Jan. 7, 1979, during which time nearly 2 million people died under the regime.

The Jan. 7 celebration is always greeted with mixed feelings in Cambodia, however, because it also marked the beginning of a decade-long occupation by the Vietnamese, who left in 1989.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement Wednesday that 30 years after the Khmer Rouge fell, “Cambodia’s culture of impunity remains as strong as ever.”

The group’s Asia director, Brad Adams, said in a statement that more leaders of the regime should be brought to justice, following a statement by the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Cambodian prosecutors that no more leaders should be charged.

Tribunal co-prosecutor Chea Leang wrote in a statement no further indictments should be pursued because of “Cambodia’s past instability and the continued need for national reconciliation,” among other reasons.

“No serious observer believes there is any threat to Cambodia’s stability if additional cases are filed against alleged Khmer Rouge killers,” Adams said.