The Council of Ministers denounced Friday requests to make today, the first day of Duch’s substantive hearing at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, a national holiday.
The Documentation Center of Cambodia had requested that today and subsequent March 30 be marked as a day of remembrance for the victims of the Khmer Rouge and reconciliation for the nation. The Council of Ministers rejected the proposal, arguing today is not really the first day of prosecution of crimes of the regime.
“March 30 cannot be regarded as the day providing justice for the victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide because we had tried leaders of this regime once already in 1979,” the statement read, referring to the 1979 People’s Revolutionary Tribunal. That special court, set up shortly after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, is widely considered as having fallen short of international standards.
“If we mark March 30 as a public holiday, we will give too much credit to those who used to support the Khmer Rouge, especially after Jan 7, 1979, by forgetting the real history—that CPP leaders had worked to give justice to the people,” the statement went on.
Cambodia already commemorates Khmer Rouge victims on May 20, although it is not a public holiday, the statement said.
DC-Cam Director Youk Chhang said by telephone Sunday that he was still hopeful because Prime Minister Hun Sen had not yet responded to the request. The Coun-
cil of Ministers statement was “quite shocking” in its tone, he added.
“It contains anger and hatred. They’re saying the ‘enemy’ should not be credited,” he said. “I can understand those feelings, but now it’s time to move on,” he added.