Center Denies Receiving Australian Funding

Khmer Rouge researcher Youk Chhang has written to Au­stralian Foreign Minister Alex­ander Downer denying re­ports made last week that the Au­stralian government gave al­most $180,000 in funding to the Docu­mentation Center of Cam­bodia.

Youk Chhang, director of the center, which has become the largest repository of documentary material on Khmer Rouge-era crimes, claimed on Monday that Australia provided little more than one-tenth the amount claimed by the foreign minister.

“I have no idea where [Down­er] got that figure,” Youk Chhang said. “I don’t know who got the money. We never received it.”

The contested contribution was first announced by Downer in a statement released to the press during last week’s Asean Region­al Forum meetings.

Downer also announced that the Australian government would contribute around $1 million over the next three years toward the long-awaited Khmer Rouge tribunal. An Australian Embassy official said Monday that the DC-Cam funding issue will be clarified in the next few days.

According to Youk Chhang, between 1997 and 2000 Australia allocated $15,865 to send DC-Cam staff for computer training at the University of New South Wales and $4,000 for the cost of translating a re­search paper.

“I am pleased to learn that the Australian government has now realized that our work is indeed work for the cause of human rights, and I shall be pleased and hope that further assistance will be provided to our center,” Youk Chhang wrote in his letter to Downer.

The Australian Embassy was unable to fund two of DC-Cam’s initiatives in 2000 and 2001, as the projects did not meet the Aus­tralian government’s human rights funding guidelines, according to a letter to Youk Chhang from the Australian Embassy.

The unsuccessful funding applications were to cover the cost of promotional material for the magazine Searching for the Truth and for 27 academic texts on topics related to genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge regime, he said.

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