A small-scale survey of victims who submitted complaints to the Khmer Rouge tribunal found that about one third want to keep their children away from descendants of those who served the Pol Pot regime.
“They believe that the offspring of the Khmer Rouge have to some extent received negative influence from their parents, and that this could also have a negative impact upon their children,” according to the survey findings, released yesterday by the Documentation Center of Cambodia.
But the survey also found that about one quarter of respondents no longer harbor resentment against the Khmer Rouge regime, under which an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died.
A few of the respondents said, “they have no one to be angry at” as the perpetrators they knew are dead, the report states.
Others said Buddhist principles or the passage of time—the Pol Pot regime fell more than 30 years ago— had “helped them to feel relief and to forgive and forget.”
The findings are based on interviews conducted during March and May with 46 survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime from Kompong Thom and Siem Reap provinces. The 46 survivors were chosen randomly from among 248 to whom DC-Cam delivered notifications from the tribunal during those two months. A notification is supposed to be delivered to each person who submitted a complaint to the court, of which there were about 4,200. These complaints are descriptions of Khmer Rouge crimes that can be used in investigations.
Terith Chy, DC-Cam Victim Participation Project’s Team Leader, who prepared yesterday’s report, called the results “interesting,” though he said the survey was too localized—and had too few respondents.
“It’s interesting to see people telling you that they don’t want their kids to associate with the kids of the Khmer Rouge,” he said. “What comes into my mind is the suffering, the pain, even after 30 years.”
DC-Cam will deliver a total of 1,000 notifications—it has already delivered about half that—to victims who filed complaints with its help, according to Mr Chy. He said he plans to continue doing interviews until he has talked to survivors from across the country.
The release of the DC-Cam report comes less than two months before the scheduled July 26 reading of the verdict in the case against Duch, aka Kaing Guek Eav. The former Khmer Rouge secret police chief faces a possible life sentence for the torture and murder of as many as 14,000 people at the Tuol Sleng prison.