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Regime’s History Should Not Just Come From Tribunal: Researcher

Dy Khamboly, author of "A History of Democratic Kampuchea" and Huy Vannak, a Public Affairs Officers at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, discuss the importance of youth participation in the Khmer Rouge trial process.

The Khmer Rouge trial currently under way at the UN-backed court should not be the only source of information Cambodians have, especially the youth, a researcher said Monday.

Dy Khamboly, who authored a book on the regime for the Documentation Center of Cambodia, told “Hello VOA” that Cambodian youth must understand the history of the regime to avoid confusion or misinformation; however, that history should come from multiple sources.

“Khmer Rouge history cannot be determined by the trials of the Khmer Rouge leaders,” he said. “The youth must learn from numerous other documents, especially living documents like their parents or grandparents, so that they understand clearly what really happened under the Democratic Kampuchea regime.”

The Khmer Rouge tribunal is currently trying three former leaders—Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary. None of them has taken responsibility for the mass atrocities of the regime, which oversaw the deaths of some 1.7 million people.

Nuon Chea has used his opportunities before the court to defend the policies of the regime, in testimony that some experts have called patently untrue.

“It’s the duty for young people to learn,” Dy Khamboly said. “They must—not just should—learn what happened, to avoid various interpretations of history that could lead to social instability and breakdown.”

A caller to Monday’s show from Kampong Cham province said he believed only half of what Nuon Chea said before the court. “Only the body and neither the head nor the tail of the crocodile is being talked about,” he said.

Tribunal spokesman Huy Vannak told “Hello VOA” that Cambodians observing the trials must see them as supplemental to research that is already done. “The youth have their own rights and cognitive thinking to decide whether to believe the history being told,” he said.