Asia-Pacific News
Cambodian ruling party: Khmer Rouge tribunal no place for politics

Jun 28, 2007, 11:15 GMT

Phnom Penh - The president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), Chea Sim, used the party's anniversary celebrations Thursday to warn that the upcoming trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders were no place to play politics.

Speaking at party headquarters during the CPP's 56th anniversary celebrations, Chea Sim said his party was solidly behind the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) and the hearings were a place to find justice for all Cambodians above all else.

'The CPP reiterates it continues to support the ECCC. We sincerely hope the tribunal is conducted smoothly and successfully to bring peace, stability and justice to the Cambodian people,' he told thousands of CPP faithful.

'The conduct of this tribunal should not be exploited by any political entity which would violate the true principals of the tribunal and deeply disrespect the souls of the victims.'

Critics have accused the CPP of stalling the hearings, which are expected to try a handful of surviving former Khmer Rouge leaders on charges of genocide and human rights abuses.

The CPP has vehemently denied the allegations, saying those critics have anti-government agendas and lack a deeper understanding of a complicated civil war.

The CPP marks June 28, 1951 as its birth date, when it carried the word 'revolutionary' in its name, and some members subsequently joined the struggle for independence from French colonial rule.

Some prominent current CPP cadre later joined the Khmer Rouge, but many of them came from provinces close to Vietnam which formed the movement's more moderate Bophea faction, and defected after the paranoid and rabidly anti-Vietnamese Khmer Rouge leadership turned upon its own and began bloody purges of their members.

Many, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, fled to Vietnam and formed the nucleus of the forces which returned with Vietnamese backing to overthrow the Democratic Kampuchea (DK) regime in 1979.

The CPP has shrugged off the Khmer Rouge past of some of its members, pointing out that Hun Sen requested the United Nations help set up the 56-million-dollar joint UN-Cambodia tribunal which it eventually agreed to in 2003.

Up to 2 million Cambodians are believed to have died during the 1975 to 1979 DK regime. Former Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot died without ever facing justice in 1998.
2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
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