Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan… the rest of their life!

Photo Courtesy ECCC.

Photo Courtesy ECCC.

Let us make speculations of this news of the verdict of Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea by ECCC this week. Let us suppose that it was not ECCC but a Khmer Rouge tribunal to investigate their cases leaded by… Duch, for example: first both seniors would endured long sessions of torture. Why to take the fatigue to look for witnesses and ask experts when you have all those S-21 practical machines to make Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea to confess their crimes? Even more, such tribunal would be delighted to make them confess others’ crimes, so a good method to reduce more papers. It is the way they dealt during their time as leaders of Kampuchea Democratic. Even more, both would be condemned to execution and an awful execution as they were at the killing fields.

Contrary to that, they got a lesson of what is civilization. They were condemned to live in prison, but they are not going to live in a Khmer Rouge-style-prison with their legs chained to the floor, having a metal box for their biological necessities and drinking some drops of water per day and some dirty little rice given by rude guards, who shout to them “if you die, it is a gain to us.”

They denied all their proven crimes such as forced labour to a population that was just leaving the horrors of the previous war. However, no judge at the ECCC ordered to give electrical shocks to make them accept their responsibilities. They got the electrical shock of history.

Although this verdict will not return us one million and 7 hundred disappeared persons – an entire lost generation – it gives some justice to history, the idea that anyway someone thinks they have much power to manipulate a nation as they want, justice is beyond their point, justice belongs to civilization, to humanity… a very clear message to those who live and act out of ethics, humanism, those who impose their ideas and ideologies by force.

Let us hope that ECCC and Cambodia can pursue more justice in this gloomy chapter of our history. A very dark chapter that condemned Cambodians to hell. You cannot forget the white flags of the Phnom Penh inhabitants greeting the troops of the Khmer Rouge, thinking the war was over, dreaming with a new start of peace. By sure, if those Khmer Rouge would be honoring those flags, that suddenly trust of the people, it would be possible that these two elderly men could be sitting now on the chairs of glory, rather as criminals. But they lost that opportunity, that brief sign of trust given by their own people. Instead, they became monsters.


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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

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