Monday, May 24, 2010

Cambodian Genocide / Cham and Vietnamese Minorities

Khmer Rouge Genocide Charge Marks Milestone for Minorities, May 24, 2010
Photo: "Cham Muslims in Cambodia reviewing material on the ECCC" (Brendan Brady/IRIN).
"As judges at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal decide whether to include genocide as a charge in the closing order, advocates say prosecuting the crime would represent a milestone for official recognition of the rights of the country's Vietnamese and Muslim minorities. 'There is still discrimination against the Cham, so this sends an important message that Muslims in Cambodia are part of the country,' Lor Chunty, a lawyer representing more than 200 Cham Muslim civil parties in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), told IRIN. Estimates suggest there are more than 300,000 Cham Muslims living in Cambodia and put the number of ethnic Vietnamese much higher than the government figure of 100,000 -- although the vast majority of Cambodia's 14.7 million people are Buddhist ethnic Khmers.
Most of the 1.7 million Cambodians who died from overwork, starvation and murder during the ultra-Maoist regime's 1975-1979 reign of terror were Khmers. However, in 1999, UN experts concluded that Khmer Rouge leaders should face charges for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes on strong evidence -- including Khmer Rouge statements, eyewitness accounts and the nature and number of victims of each group -- pointing to genocide against the Cham and Vietnamese as ethnic groups and against the Buddhist monkhood as a religious group. The ECCC has been trying five former top officials of the regime for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In December, the tribunal added genocide as a charge against the four remaining defendants for their alleged role in the slaughter of ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims living in Cambodia. The charge still needs to be finalized in the court's closing order, but it is expected to be sustained. [...]"

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