Vietnam’s Gift of Archival Film Footage Could Assist KR Trial

The Vietnamese government has donated more than 470 minutes of archival film footage dealing with the Khmer Rouge and Viet­nam’s military conflict with Demo­cratic Kampuchea, according to Doc­u­men­tation Center of Cam­bo­dia Dir­ector Youk Chhang.

Comprising 20 different films, the newly obtained footage spans the period from 1973 to 1984 and is a record of life under the Khmer Rouge.

“These are rare films that haven’t been seen before. [The films] bring back a piece of history that we have lost,” Youk Chhang said Friday. The films were handed over to DC-Cam after the center asked Vietna­mese authorities to make them available earlier this month, he added.

Vietnam originally donated 16 films with more than 360 minutes but later gave DC-Cam an additional four films, Youk Chhang said by phone Sunday. Vietnam has been the only country in Asia that has helped Cambodia find information from the Khmer Rouge era, he added, urging other countries to do the same.

Two films of particular note show Vietnamese forces battling the Khmer Rouge in Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province in 1977 and the former S-21 prison, now the Tuol Sleng genocide museum, three days after it was abandoned by the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Early foot­age also shows officials such as former Khmer Rouge Head of State Khieu Samphan.

In other footage shot after 1979, a young Prime Minister Hun Sen is seen conversing with Vietnamese officials.

The films could be a valuable tool for the Khmer Rouge tribunal as they show the condition in which people were living under the Khmer Rouge, Youk Chhang said.

“We, and I personally, as victims of the Khmer Rouge want to see a fair trial, and my role is to locate any possible sources and make it available to the public,” Youk Chhang said, adding that the films could also be used as a powerful educational tool.

   (Additional reporting by Cajsa Collin)

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