A Cambodian centre compiling evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities has appealed to governments worldwide for documents that may assist in a trial of ex-leaders of the regime, its director said Tuesday.
The request for documents, photographs, testimony, audio recordings and film footage comes ahead of the 30th anniversary of Pol Pot’s genocidal regime coming to power this Sunday, and has been made in letters to 42 embassies.
“Several governments had embassies in Cambodia during Democratic Kampuchea, while others followed events from embassies in Thailand, China, Vietnam or Laos,” the Documentation Centre of Cambodia’s Youk Chhang said in a statement.
Democratic Kampuchea was the official name of the “Killing Fields” regime, which abolished schools, private property and currency in a drive for an agrarian utopia that eventually led to the deaths of up to two million people.
It was toppled by Vietnamese forces in 1979 but remnants fought on against the government until 1998, the same year Pol Pot died.
“We hope that all these governments will search their diplomatic, military and intelligence (including signals intelligence) archives for materials that might be useful in establishing a full legal and historical accounting of the crimes committed during this period,” Chhang said.
“We hope they will declassify these materials when necessary, transmit them to the Extraordinary Chambers, and make them public.”
The UN-backed chambers is expected to try about six surviving Khmer Rouge leaders for genocide and crimes against humanity during its three-year proceedings.
Once funding for the 56 million-dollar body is finalised, investigations are expected to last up to 12 months before the leaders, who are mostly in their 70s, are called to appear.
Only two of those cited for trial are in detention with the remainder living freely in Cambodia.