The Khmer Rouge tribunal’s victims support unit Tuesday made a last-ditch push for donations to pay for reparation projects for the victims of the Pol Pot regime ahead of a March 31 deadline.
A verdict in the first phase of the war crimes trial against Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan is expected in the coming months. Though the few thousand civil parties to the case cannot receive individual financial awards in the event of a guilty verdict, they can receive moral and collective reparations.
“A number of projects do not yet have secured funds and consequently are at risk of not being recognized by the court, nor implemented,” the victims unit said in a statement soliciting more donations.
The 13 proposed projects include a set of six memorials around the country, facilitated self-help groups, a traveling exhibit, and a new chapter in a Khmer Rouge regime teaching guide for the country’s public schools. They’ve secured $693,000 from donors including the Swiss and German governments but need at least $1.6 million more to fund all the projects.
Lars Olsen, a spokesman for the court, said the Trial Chamber needed to know what funds were available for reparations by March 31 to help it decide which projects to award in its judgment if the accused are found guilty.
Chum Mey, a civil party in the case who now sells copies of his memoir of life under the Khmer Rouge outside S-21, the prison and torture center he was one of the few to survive, said the projects would help ensure that future generations never forget what happened.
“If the court does not have enough money to do the projects, I think that we won’t have evidence to show the next generations so that they know about the Pol Pot regime,” he said.
Mr. Mey said he most wanted to see a memorial stupa built at S-21, which is now a museum.
Long Khet, head of the NGO Youth for Peace, said the reparations were an important symbol of accountability.
“In the context of [this tribunal], symbolic, moral and collective reparations are very crucial and needed for the Khmer Rouge victims and survivors because they can help to restore the value and dignity of the victims,” he added.
(Additional reporting by Khuon Narim)
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