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Re: KR Genocide, a Fraudulent Claim?

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  • Bora Touch
    Dear Audience of KR Trial Talk and All: I would like to respond to your message posted in this public Forum. Many Khmer, including you, are victims of false
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 10, 2005
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      Dear Audience of KR Trial Talk and All:


      I would like to respond to your message posted in this public Forum.  Many Khmer, including you, are victims of false information which needs to be rectified before Cambodia can move forward.  Set out below is a discussion of the following two issues:


      (1)   His Majesty’s responsibility for the Khmer Rouge Crimes.


      (2)    the term “genocide” and the death tolls Khmer Rouge.




      (1)               His Majesty’s responsibility for the Khmer Rouge Crimes.


      When a top secret group, calling themselves, “The Revolutionary Committee”, composed of twelve members (Lon Non, Tep Kunnah, Les Kosem, Vong Sarendy, Chhim Chhuon, Lim Sisaath, Srey Yar, So Satto, It Suong, Hang Thun Hak, Hou Hangs In, and Lon Nol as hononary president of the Committee, and his brother Lon Non being the executive Chairman of the Committee: see CIA Report dated 14/8/70) staged a coup to overthrow a legitimate Cambodian Head of State, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, on 18 March 1970, HRH Sihanouk created a Royal Government (GRUNK) in exile.  As such, he remained legally and constitutionally the Head of State of Cambodia. The Prince also created the United Front, FUNK.  The Khmer Rouge joined with these bodies, although they maintained a strict separation of their activities and structure under their secret Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). The KR and the Royal Government had different armed forces. He did not created the KR forces as you claimed. http://www.norodomsihanouk.info/mes%202005/septembre/textes/0209txt4.htm


      On 17 April 1975, Cambodia was, on one view, liberated from those who had staged the coup.  However, without the Prince’s knowledge, the KR forcibly evacuated the cities.


      In late 1975, the Prince returned to Cambodia as the Head of State of His Royal Government. Let me emphasize this: the Prince returned as the Head of State of His Royal Government and not as the head of the KR government or the CPK.


      On 5 January 1976, the KR promulgated its constitution, naming the country “Democratic Kampuchea”.  The Constitution had nothing to do Prince N. Sihanouk and the Monarchy. In practice, the State and the Executive activities were taken away from him from the date of the promulgation of the constitution. The Prince and members of the Royal Family who were with him were under house-arrest.


      According to KR internal documents, which are available at the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, the Prince constantly begged the KR leader to let him resign.


      On 11 March 1976, the CPK Standing Committee/Politburo allowed Him to resign: See Minute of the meeting of the Standing Committee of 11-13 March 1976


      On 2 April 1976, in the Royal Palace, the Prince announced His Resignation. The person who recorded the Prince’s resignation was a Khmer Rouge political commissar, Chhorn Hay (a Chinese Cambodian) appointed to “look after” the Prince in the Palace. See the photo of Mr. Chhorn recording the Prince resignation on page 93 in Prince Norodom Sihanouk, War and Hope. The Case for Cambodia (1980) (Note: I mentioned Mr. Chhorn Hay being a Chinese Khmer only to illustrate what I discuss below that the KR did not have the intent to destroy Chinese Cambodians simply because of their ethnic/racial background).


      From 18 March 1970 to 2 April 1976, the Prince was not the Head of State of the Democratic Kampuchea or KR.


      One might argue that the Prince was formally/officially the Head of the Democratic Kampuchea from the date of the promulgation of the DK constitution of 1 January 1976 to the date He resigned on 2 April 1976, and therefore He was a DK leader as defined under the KR Trial law (2001).


      This argument fails too because, legally and formally, DK never appointed the Prince as its Head of State of the DK/KR. Until the date the Prince resigned He was the head of State of his own Royal Government (GRUNK).


      Even if the Prince was the DK Head of State from 5/1/76-2/4/76, under the KR Trial Law (2001), being a KR/DK leader alone is not a crime. To be punished under this Law, a person must be: (1) a DK leader or those who are “most responsible” for atrocities perpetrated by the KR, for example, like Duch (who was of Vietnamese/Chinese descent), and (2) have committed a crime as stipulated under this Law (for example, Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, Crime against cultural property, murders etc).


      There is no evidence that between 17/4/1975 and 7/1/79 His Majesty the King father committed genocide or other crimes listed in the Law; He was not a DK leader in a legal and former sense.


      As to the applicability of the doctrine of “chain of command” to Him, there was neither “command” nor “control” by the King-father who was locked up under house arrest in the Royal Palace.


      My question to you is: what evidence do you have to form the opinion that His Majesty committed any of those of crimes.


      2. The term “genocide” and the death toll under the Khmer Rouge.


      2(a). Genocide.


      The term “genocide” in the KR context has been incorrectly used. The incorrect usage stems from two causes: (1) purely for political (now financial) purposes or gain, especially, the KPRP/CPP and its foreign supporters and the Vietnamese army (for those foreign supporters and their group or PKR/CPP/Vietnam’s supporters vs supporters of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea during the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, see Tom Fawthrop and Helen Jarvis, Getting Away with Genocide (2005) and Gun G et al, Cambodia: Watching Down Under (1991); both authors are supporters of the CPP). (2) sheer ignorance of law of genocide as defined under the Genocide Convention and the DK/KR (mixed racial/ethnic, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cham) physical composition. The KR leaders were born Buddhist and Islam, the latter being Mat Ly who was a DK member of the Standing Committee of DK National Assembly and who after 1979 became a high ranking communist figure in regime of the victorious faction of KR, the PRK/CPP. Of the eight members of the Standing Committee (SC), only Mou Sambath was of indigenous Khmer ethnicity. The rest were either of Chinese or Vietnamese origin. Ta Mok’s father Ung (Preak) was of Chinese descent (Ta Mak was member of the SC.. His mother Uk is a Khmer ethnic.


      Under the Genocide Convention and according to jurisprudence on genocide, when one ethic/racial group kills the same ethic/racial group, this is not “genocide” for purposes of the Genocide Convention (although it could constitute other henious crimes such as crimes against humanity or torture and the like). At the time of the drafting and ratification of the Genocide Convention, so-called “auto-genocide” (where one nationality or ethnicity or race etc kills members of its own group) was expressly excluded.  Accordingly when Khmers kill Khmers or Cambodians kill Cambodians, this is not genocide


      Like any other crime, Genocide has two constitutive elements: the Actus Reus (the act) and Mens Rea (the intent).


      In the KR case, there is no difficulty proving the element of Actus Reus. Evidence of mass murders and serious bodily or mental harm is plentiful. Clearly, a large number of people died.


      But what makes “genocide” different from the crime of, for instance, murder, is the level of Mens Rea that required.  That is, the crime must have been committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a group as such. The genocidal (higher) intent has four elements: (1) An intent, (2) to destroy, (3) a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, (4) in whole or in part.  The Appeal Chambers of ICTY decided unanimously that genocide is characterized by the fact that it aims to destroy a human group. A dead body does not necessarily mean that murder has been committed and likewise piles of dead bodies do not necessarily equate with genocide. Intent to destroy must be express and not inferred.


      Besides the speculation or distortion of foreign “experts’” work/books on the KR, there is no proof that the KR had intent to destroy people from the different racial/ethnic groups such the Chinese Khmers, the Cham Khmer, the Viet Khmer, the Buddhist Khmers etc. The experts’ evidence cited in their work/books, in my view, is far from proving the genocidal intent. It is true that DK harsh policies on agricultural products caused a lot Khmers and those from different ethnic (Chinese etc) groups, but they had no genocidal intent to destroy them. After all, according to jurisprudence (from the ICTY, ICTR, Nuremberg), there is no reckless genocide.



      2(b) The Death Tolls.



      Cambodia’s first census (1921) showed a population of 2,402,585. The 2nd national census of 1962 provided a population of 5,740,115. Using the often cited population growth rate of 2.8 % per annum, (although according to the Khmer governments in the 1958, 1959 administrative counts, 1962/1966 official census reports, the 1971 Annuaire Statistique, Sim Pheng, l’Evolution Demographique De Cambodge Depuis l’Origine au Recensement en 1962 (1965), Goerge Siampos, Report: The Population of Cambodia 1945-1980 (June 1968)) the annual growth rate was about 2.2 % p.a)., the population by December 1975, would be about 8,202,985. About 600,000 to 700,000 people died between 1970-April 1975: (the CIA-1981, US State Department-1979, UN-1994) and virtually all (over 400,000) Vietnamese were repatriated to Vietnam by April 1975. 


      Subtracting the 600,000 war deaths and 400,000 Vietnamese deportees, by April 1975, the population would thus have been roughly 7,142,515, which is close to the figure of 7.2 million provided by Heng Samrin’s announcement of mid 1979.


      It is generally accepted that between 1975-1979, the population growth rate was 1% p.a. Taking the population of 7,142,515 in 1975, by December 1978 when the Vietnamese army came in, the population would have been roughly 7,408,000 


      According to various demographers and the Ministry of Planning (July 2002), 500,000 died as a result of the December 1978 Vietnam invasion. This did not include the deaths from the 1977 invasion.


      The People’s Republic Kampuchea’s (PRK) population survey in 1980 (in the areas it controlled) provided a figure of 6,589,954 (not including Cambodians unaccounted for in Vietnam, Lao, Thailand (not in the refugees camps). To this must be added the over 100,000 Khmer who had left for third countries, and about 400,000+ Vietnamese who had not returned by 1981 (according to (1) the Council of Ministers Cabinet Meeting’s Minute of 31/12/85, about 50,000 Vietnamese had arrived in Cambodia by July 1985; and (2) the PRK’s Foreign Affairs Ministry in November 1985, of the 468, 000 Vietnamese, 57,000 had returned), and the 200,000 refugees in Thailand. This would bring the figure to about 7,289,954 survivors by late 1980. This is not included those who were accounted in various countries, Thailand, Loa, Malaysia who taken 3000-5000 Chams from camps in Vietnam before 1979 and those (10,000-20,000 predominantly Chams, Sino Khmers) killed by the Thai army after Viet Army’s 1979 invasion in the Dangrek mountain ranges.


      From January 1979-1980, the growth rate was about 2.8% p.a. (although according to Chairman Heng Samrin’s 1985 Report to the 5th Party Congress, the growth rate had been 2.9% p.a). Using this growth rate of 2.8% p.a., subtracting back from the 1980 population of 7,289,954 to 1978, the population in December 1978 would have been roughly 7,387,432, including the 500,000 post-1979 deaths. Remember that these figures excluded Cambodian people unaccounted for in various countries in the region.


      Subtracting this December 1978 figure from the April 1975 figure stated above, you will figure out that the death toll under DR between April 1975-Dec.1978. You will find that, the DK death tolls were less than the deaths resulting from the Vietnam’s 1978 invasion and also less that the toll resulting from the US bombardments and war 1970-1975.


      By the way, the bombs (539,129 tons) dropped were equivalent to 26+ (Hiroshima) nuclear bombs. Let me know your own calculation.


      The death tolls by the KR have been greatly exaggerated by interested people. Let me give the example of Ben Kiernan (BK) who is a known activist and a pro PRK writer on Khmer Rouge affairs. In his article, “The Demography of Genocide in Southeast Asia. The death Tolls in Cambodia, 1975-79...”in Critical Asian Studies (2003), p.586, Ben Kiernan dismissed the figure in the Khmer national census of 1962 but instead BK made use of foreign experts’ population studies, which are not based on any actual population counting or census (if BK used the real evidence, the 1962 census, his calculation of the DK death toll would have been disappointedly much lower), he came up with a conclusion “that the 1975-79 death toll was between 1.671 and 1.871 million people, 21 to 24 percent of Cambodia’s 1975 population”.


      He states “ documentary evidence for not only excess death but actual population decline after April 1975 include an official, published DK figure of 7,735,279 in March 1976. In August, another official DK source gave a confidential estimate of 7,333,000, a statistical loss of 400,000 in just six months.” BK further states “It is clear not only that the lower estimates for the pre-1975 population are, but also that the post-1975 population was declining”. 


      No, it is not clear. Far from it. In fact, the document BK cited is a Minute of the Standing Committee’s Meeting held from 21/7/-2/8/1976. It is the CPK’s economic planning for the years of 1977, the general start of the communal eating, to 1980. Table 1 of the Minute gave general rounded figures from each Zone and Region (such as 1,790,000 from North West Region, 1,700,000 from the Eastern Region, 400,000 from Zone 106 etc. Likewise, it also gave rounded figures for lands to be used) and because it is a rounded verbal estimate at the meeting, the total of population estimate was a rounded figure: 7,333,000 for 1977. The participants of the meeting did not make use of the radio broadcasted figure of 7,735,279 of March 1976 for the planning. There is no anticipation by them that by 1977, 400,000 people would die. On the contrary, the official population figure in 1977 was given at about 7,760,000: (KR’s News From Kampuchea, Vol 1(3) August 1977 p. 1).  Taken at face value, this is an increase of about 20,000 in 1977 compared to the official figure of March 1976, and not statistical loss.


      BK however correctly criticized Craig Etcheson’s report of mass graves (1999). His words, “such sloppiness is unworthy of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia Exaggerating a horrific death toll [by Craig Etcheson], it contributes to ethnic auctioneering of genocide research”: Id p. 588. In his 1999 mass graves Report, Craig Etcheson put the DK death toll is “as high as 3 millions”.


      As such, it is not Craig Etcheson alone who is engaging in “ ethnic auctioneering of genocide research”.    


      It is my view that the genocide claim is a fraudulent claim and it is my hope one day, Cambodia will have a group of people objectively and honestly searching for the truth.



      Bora Touch-

      A Khmer Lawyer

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