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New Documentary to Shed Light on Khmer Rouge Survivor’s Struggle

The three survivors, along with a Cambodian American professor Leakhena Nov, at the temple. (Courtesy Photo​ of Michael Siv)

The film intends to define “justice, through the lenses of survivors” said Michael Siv, the producer.

A new documentary shows that the survivors of the Khmer Rouge are still seeking justice they lost decades ago.

The 69-minute film “Daze of Justice” is expected to display a broad understanding of the suffering the Cambodian people went through during Khmer Rouge, said Terrence Graham, associate dean and executive director of international programs at California State University.

“Bringing this documentary film to campus would be a great opportunity to raise awareness on our campus and a great educational opportunity for our students,” he said.

The film intends to define “justice, through the lenses of survivors” said Michael Siv, the producer.

“What is justice?” he asked. “When I started following them, I don’t know what it is.”

Siv’s question has not been answered, or might never be. “That’s why I’m using the word ‘Daze’ of Justice, because it’s going to be an ongoing question and ongoing journey, probably for the rest of most people’s lives,” he said.

The film featured three female Cambodian-American Khmer Rouge survivors who traveled to Phnom Penh to give testimony in Case 002 at the Khmer Rouge trial in 2011.

Among them was Sarem Noeu, 77, who lost her husband and her two children to the regime.

“I want to know why a lot of people died during the Khmer Rouge,” said Noeu from her home in Maryland.

Noeu was supposed to testify against Ieng Sary, one of the Khmer Rouge leaders, but she did not have a chance to do so as he had already passed away. However, she still wants to see those leaders held accountable for their actions.

“Some Khmer Rouge people did not appear in the court even though they got the order. They are still in power. Only some appear,” she said.

The documentary is scheduled to be screened on February 2 at the university, where there is a great diversity of people from across the world, especially Cambodian-Americans in the city of Long Beach.

The screening of the film is an opportunity for the community to break their silence and share their “trauma”, “strength” and “resilience”, said Leakhena Nou, associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the university.

“Film is very powerful as a mechanism to allow people to visually see images that perhaps they themselves also experience on a personal level,” said Nou, who has helped Cambodian-American survivors of the Khmer Rouge take part in the tribunal process.

“As a Cambodian, [I think] every Cambodian should watch this film,” she said.