Between 1975 and 1979 more than 1,700,000 people were murdered, starved or worked to death under the rule of the Khmer Rouge regime, yet only one man has stood trial for the atrocities. On the 26th of July 2010, Kaing Guek Eav (alias Duch) was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his crimes as commandant of S-21 (aka Tuol Sleng), the Phnom Penh prison where approximately 14,000 people were tortured and murdered.
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is close to beginning the trial of four of the other high-ranking Khmer Rouge leaders. However, investigations into a third trial for five additional suspects are currently in limbo, largely due to overt political interference and UN lethargy.
On Friday, the 8th of April 2011, Rob Hamill lodged a civil party application against Khmer Rouge commanders Meas Muth and Sou Met, two of five individuals believed to be under investigation. Rob’s is the second civil suit submitted to the ECCC, the first being from Cambodian human rights activist and Khmer Rouge survivor, Theary Seng (www.thearyseng.com).
“I am doing this to remind the UN and its member countries that justice has not yet been served,” says Rob. “Just what is the magic number to cease further proceedings? Among the hundreds, if not thousands of killers, trying five is not enough, and pushing for an additional five prosecutions is not unreasonable. It’s akin to halting the Nuremburg Trials after only a few convictions. The world would not have accepted that outcome, yet now the victims of these heinous and incomprehensible atrocities are expected to accept one conviction (Duch), and a trial pending for four others, knowing that at least five more culpable cadres remain un- charged.”
Rob said he is also submitting his application to support Theary Seng’s one. “She is a very brave woman who deserves to be heard above the deafening silence.”
Rob is holding Meas and Sou personally, individually, criminally responsible for the death of his brother Kerry. Particular emphasis is given to Meas, commander of the Khmer Rouge navy, which captured of Kerry, moored off Koh Tang Island, on the 13th of August 1978. Kerry was tortured, forced confess that he was a CIA operative, then executed.
“One of my concerns lays in the fact that the cases against Meas and Sou appear to be dormant, or will be dropped. This is not good enough. It harks back to the cold war politics of the time, when many countries still recognised Khmer Rouge leadership at the UN. This included New Zealand. My father, Miles, wrote many letters, petitioning our government. In one, he wrote, Mr Muldoon Sir, if you can faintly understand the shock and grief I and my family are suffering over this ghastly affair, then you will surely do all in your power as the Head of New Zealand’s governing body to investigate my son’s death. Why has New Zealand ever recognised the Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea? To recognise them must surely condone their actions as a Government?
“The recognition of the Khmer Rouge’s leadership was politically driven and was totally unacceptable to my father,” says Rob. “If the ECCC drops the cases against Meas and Sou, this will be equally unacceptable.
“The family members of Khmer Rouge victims are not alone in their grief and suffering. I am not a Cambodian national, but I am a victim of its politics. I hope this application motivates others to stand up and say what needs to be said. All former Khmer Rouge leaders under investigation must stand trial, and be exposed for the part they played in the death of 1,700,000 people.”