Does Cambodia Take Care of Its Own?
Letter to the Editor
The Cambodia Daily
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Since the arrest of Khmer Rouge commander Nuon Paet in 1999 and that of Sam Bith three years later, the recent capture of their comrade Chhouk Rin marks the final destination for justice for the 13 Cambodians and three tourists brutally killed in 1994 on Vine Mountain in Kampot province.
It took almost 12 years for justice to be served and for the perpetrators to be held responsible for the deaths of 16 innocent people.
Calls for action, made by the three foreign countries whose citizens were killed, were key in finding justice – especially the request made by France.
Was justice found because the Cambodian criminal system is so effective that criminals who commit crimes are punished? Or was it because the deaths of three foreigners forced other countries to intervene?
The entire case of the 1994 train attack seemed to be prompted by – and focus on – the deaths of the foreigners.
Would it have made any difference if all 16 victims were Cambodians? Would justice have been found? Would there have been any commitment or willingness to make arrests and issue sentences had other nations not intervened?
The 1997 grenade attack on a peaceful march in front of the National Assembly, which killed at least a dozen and wounded many more, has not been resolved.
When we hear about that grenade attack now, it is because among the injured was one US citizen that compelled the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to become involved.
Just for a second, let’s imagine that all the victims in that attack were Cambodian.
Would there be any effort to find justice?
It has been almost eight years now since the attack. In our silent shame, we have not figured out who perpetrated the attack or what their motives were.
I am a Cambodian person. I feel so hurt when innocent people are killed in vain, and when criminals gain at the expense of others’ lives.
I strongly hope justice will be found for the victims of both the 1994 and 1997 attacks.
I believe the victims deserved to live, and that everyone now deserves justice.