Monday, July 26, 2010

Duch's Verdict

My Brother and I in front of the entrance of ECCC

Duch’s Verdict on 26/7/2010

I just came back from the delivery verdict of AING Guek Eav, also known as Duch at ECCC (Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia). First, I want to acknowledge and congratulate all the distinguished members of the ECCC both from Cambodia and from many countries for the achievement and contribution in bringing the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to present day. Despite the difficulty and intricacy in the past, there has been huge amount of work accomplished through the professional effort and collaboration of all involved.

In the court chamber, I personally witnessed the hybrid justice proceeding live with more than 500 people, most of them are victims. It was a moving experience and historic event for all the victims to wait more than 30 years to finally having some sort of justice. Duch was convicted of intentional murder, torture, rape, crimes against humanity and sentenced to 35 years. Moreover, according to the decision, he actually serves 19 years in prison because he has already spent 11 years in detention and got another five more years credit for cooperating with the court.

After today’s judgment, as a victim I am doubtful that most Cambodian understands and accepts the reasons of these credits. There still are many unanswered questions for the national and international victims but this piece of justice is at least the first step toward the truth, admission of guilt, perhaps reconciliation and healing. At the end, I think that the ECCC provided the truth of the mass killings but failed to satisfy the survivors’ emotional feeling with the shortening of Duch's prison term. Justice for the Khmer victims was not completely and fully served. More works and right understanding of the victims’ side must take into full consideration if ECCC wants to put a closure on finding real justice, end impunity, and promote national reconciliation.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wealth Disparity and Inequality

Pictures of the poor

Wealth Disparity and Inequality

As a Cambodian, I understand there are no quick fixes to the issues wealth disparity and inequality. The recent development, the luxurious buildings and the city life in Phnom-Penh design to create the image of a good life but do not reflect reality for most people. According to the UN report on local development (The Cambodia Daily, 1st July 2010), 3.7 million people estimated to be living below the poverty threshold, and only ten percent of the rural population owns a title of their land. Yet, those people also want decent housings, clean water, good sewage, and electricity. They want justice. They want basic health care. They want education. They want a piece land to grow their crops. They see poverty worsening, corruption spreading, and inefficiency rampant. The widening gap between the rich and the poor expands and rising inequality persists to the highest level. It is pity and heartbreaking that our present government doesn’t acknowledge the problem and try to find the real solutions. Here, once again the government is more interested in assigning blame than fixing problems for the poor. The leader doesn’t seem to acknowledge and grasp the legitimate issues raised by the UN, let alone be genuinely prepared to make the right and strategic decisions to help those really in desperate needs by looking into the validity and recommendation of the report. As we all know actions always speak louder than words and what the poor needed now is concrete actions. May ALL see the truth of what really happened.