CHOEUNG EK, Cambodia (AFP) — Cambodian students staged a re-enactment of Khmer Rouge crimes at a notorious killing field on Tuesday to mark the country’s annual “Day of Anger,” in memory of those killed by the regime.
Some 2,000 Cambodians attended the rally to commemorate victims at Choeung Ek, a former Khmer Rouge killing field outside the capital Phnom Penh.
Twenty black-clad students mimed bludgeoning, strangling and eviscerating bound victims in front of a memorial stupa, just metres (yards) from mass graves where Khmer Rouge soldiers murdered thousands of people during the regime’s 1975-1979 reign.
Many were moved to tears by the performance as survivors called for the former communist regime leaders to finally face war crimes trials.
“I want the trials of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders to take place very soon so that justice can be rendered to millions of victims and survivors,” said 63-year-old Un Youk Kroy, whose 20 relatives were killed under the brutal regime.
Ly Kim Huon, who lost about 10 relatives, echoed the sentiment.
“The trials must begin soon. I want to know the truth, why the Khmer Rouge committed such crimes,” said the 65-year-old woman.
Up to two million people died from overwork, starvation, torture or execution under the Khmer Rouge as it sought to create an agrarian utopia. A joint Cambodia-UN tribunal was established in 2006 after nearly a decade of haggling.
The five top surviving Khmer Rouge leaders were recently detained by the court on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, and trials are expected to begin later this year.
Former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister Ieng Thirith is scheduled to appear before the court on Wednesday to appeal against her detention.