Friday, July 23, 2010

Speaking out

Vann Nath, S-21 survivor and recently recovered from illness, speaks at the public forum today. Behind him is David Chandler.
A great opportunity for some of the unheard victims of the Khmer Rouge regime to tell their stories and to pose questions to a panel of experts took place at Pannasastra University in Phnom Penh this morning. A public forum organized by the Center for Justice and Reconciliation and sponsored by the Asia Foundation and the German Development Service, gave a voice to many that had travelled from the provinces on the eve of the verdict in the first of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal cases, the prosecution of Comrade Duch, the former head of Tuol Sleng, S-21. That verdict will be broadcast live on television and radio on Monday, so this was a timely reminder from some of the victims, of the suffering and pain they have endured in waiting all these years for such a trial. Indeed, two survivors of S-21 were on the panel, Vann Nath and Bou Meng, and they spoke passionately about the case. Another victim, Rob Hamill, the brother of one of the few westerners killed at S-21, Kerry Hamill, was also on the panel, alongwith celebrated historian David Chandler, British Ambassador Andrew Mace and others closely linked to the proceedings at the ECCC. The forum, which lasted three hours and was hosted by Theary Seng, proved again that Cambodians are still awaiting justice, they are seeking answers as to who was responsible and why did they inflict this upon fellow Cambodians, and Monday's verdict against Duch will be a big step in getting that justice.
Some of the panelists. LtoR: Rob Hamill, Bou Meng, Vann Nath, David Chandler, Ambassador Andrew Mace
Rob Hamill answering a question whilst being filmed for a forthcoming documentary called Brother Number One. Bou Meng is beside him.
That's me in the middle of the front row holding my camera with Theary Seng standing in the foreground (pic courtesy of CJR)

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