Monday, October 10, 2005

Compensation Project Could Have Variety of Consequences

THE CAMBODIA DAILY

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Meng-Try Ea is a PhD student at Rutgers,

the State University of New Jersey, USA.

I am skeptical about Haruhisa Handa’s compensation project of $100 per family for the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime (“Japanese Businessman Announces KR Fund,” Tuesday, page 16).

The compensation will have major impacts on Cambodia: First, it will possibly impact public participation with the KR trial and encourage the culture of impunity. Second, it will possibly impact the history of the KR regime.

I am concerned that this project could discourage the public from participating in the KR trial because once they receive a compensation, they may be no longer interested in working towards fighting for justice and establishing the truth.

The project could also weaken human rights by creating an impression that the life of a Cambodian victim of the KR regime is only worth $100.

Finally, the project will encourage the culture of impunity in Cambodia as victims of any crime will be calling for compensation, rather than fighting for justice.

There have been debates regarding the actual number of victims killed during the KR regime.

For example, most of Cambodian students learn from their school textbooks that the number killed during the KR regime was 3.3 million. For these students, the estimate of 1.7 million claimed by researchers and foreign scholars on Cambodia is incorrect.

At the same time, some people do not accept the number introduced in the school textbooks. They question the credibility of the study done by the government of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, seeing it as politically motivated.

The donation could also destroy the history of the Khmer Rouge regime as some poor people will rush to provide a new number of the victims for the sake of money.

By then, the history of the KR regime will be more blurred and further from fact. For this reason, any records from this reparation project must be classified, let alone to teach the young Cambodian students about the history of the KR regime.

I personally think that a better idea for the compensation project for the victim of the KR regime is to focus on the future by building infrastructure including schools, hospitals and roads for every victim of the KR regime rather than compensating victims of the KR regime as individuals.

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