Rosa Luxembourg is reported to have said: "The most revolutionary deed is and always will remain to say out loud what is the case."
When a "regime of truth" is imposed [this CPP regime rewriting of history via the ECCC with UN stamp of approval], however, when cultural mores, public opinion, or decrees of a totalitarian state codify what may or may not be said, saying out loud what is the case may indeed be revolutionary.
..."oppression and deceit". The two are inseparable: if you oppress you will seek to conceal your iniquity by deception; oppression needs deceit as a prop... Blow the cover of deception and oppression becomes naked, ashamed of itself. Secrecy is indispensable for the operation of power, and hence, saying out loud what is the case can be a dangerous act of subversion... The greatness of the prophets consists in the refusal to be drawn into the war of dissimulations. Instead of offering their own "counter-truths" as weapons in a battle, they simple dared to see what was behind the veil of deception and had the courage to speak out loud the truth about the oppressors.
-- Miroslav Volf (Exclusion and Embrace, pp. 235-6)
“This is no longer a legitimate court,” says Theary Seng, a prominent U.S.-trained human-rights lawyer whose parents were killed by the Khmer Rouge. “It’s a sham. It does such a disservice to Cambodian victims and international justice in general.” [...]
Critics say the trials have been hijacked to specifically absolve former leading Khmer Rouge figures now within Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party. “I’m in awe of Hun Sen,” says Theary Seng sardonically, deploring the “manipulated and whitewashed” history the ECCC is now helping to propagate. “It will go down in all the history books as a brilliant move.”
. . .
Ms. Theary Seng's Residence, Villa 22B, Street 302
CSD Chief Files 1st Civil Party Application to ECCC (The
Cambodia Daily, 26 Sept. 2007)
NOTE: The ECCC came into operation in mid-2006. When Theary Seng filed the first application in Sept. 2007, the ECCC has yet to establish the Victims Unit and the Victims/Civil Party Application Form. She wrote up her own complaint and personally went to the ECCC and filed with the clerk at the Office of the Co-Investigation Judges. It would take until the beginning of 2008 for the Victims Unit to be established and the Application Form to be available for the first time, with revisions and changes since then.
Nuon Chea's Pre-Trial Chamber hearing on provisional detention where Theary Seng made history as a civil party (8 Feb. 2008).
After her 20 minute statement, Theary handed a copy of Understanding Trauma in Cambodia Handbook to Mr. Nuon Chea.
On February 8, Theary Seng, who is quickly becoming the poster child for the genocide that ravaged Cambodia in the late 1970s, stood to address a man she believes was responsible for the deaths of her parents and 1.7 million other Cambodians: Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's right-hand man and most trusted deputy, who is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. "For us, the graveyard was our playground," she said.
(excerpt from International Justice Tribune, above)
The Lead Co-Lawyers Schemeruns contrary to the principle, the basic definition of "party", a legal violation and a thus a nonsensical farce, DIS-EMPOWERING VICTIMS in its EXPLOITATION.
Excerpts from Theary Seng's Application for Declarative Relief (above), July 2008:
"Once the defense and prosecution have spent time presenting their case in the manner of their choosing, it flows logically that the Civil Party should be able to do the same. Parties can object and the Court reserves the right to curtail any irrelevant or repetitive submissions regardless of who is speaking. Given the Court's ability to manage the proceedings, it should not matter whether a lawyer or a Civil Party speaks during the allocated time."
"It may also help the Court to consider controlling the number of speaking representatives from each party. Given that the defense and the prosecution have each have two attorneys present in the courtroom, perhaps the Civil Parties, no matter how many there are, should also be limited to two speaking representatives on any given day. The Civil Parties would then decide internally how and who would use the allocated speaking time, helping to mainstream the Civil Parties' voice."
"The Civil Party's voice resonates differently than that of her lawyer."
. . .
ILLEGAL SCHEME to have Lead Co-Lawyers:
Cambodian Ang Pich and
UN Elisabeth Simmoneau-Fort
INCOMPETENT, INEXPERIENCED NEOPHYTES
"I decided to withdraw completely because I do not have faith in the court as a whole, and I do not have faith in the lead [civil party] co-lawyers. "One is an incompetent neophyte with no international background who would not allow me - as a victim - to speak with her, and the other is the same."
[Theary C. Seng]
Pich Ang told the Post, adding that he and his international counterpart, Elisabeth Simonneau Fort, had personally met "zero" of the victims in Case 002. Simonneau Fort agreed.
"We can only meet civil parties with their lawyer, who is their intermediary; we cannot be in contact with civil parties directly."
- The Phnom Penh Post's KRT Critic Offers 'Poetic Justice'
All to say, Cambodian victims would do well without these lawyers' presence as this would peel away some layers of the confusion, complexity and deceit surrounding the KRT. The access and quality of victim participation would not change, as it is as a “witness” and not “civil party” that s/he is participating directly, meaningfully, currently in the KRT.
Remember, Mr. Vann Nath participated as a “witness” and not a “civil party; he never applied and became a “civil party”.
of ECCC Co-Investigating Judges against "Senior Khmer Rouge Leaders": Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith (15 Sept. 2010). In particular, see "Wat Tlork" and the requested link to "Bung Rei" (or, Boeung Rai), the 2 detention centers where I was detained and lost my mom to the madness. See Victims Association for more on Boeung Rai Detention Center (or just continue scrolling down).
Absolutely absorbed by this incredible gift of a book! Touching on "... primitive political justice" like what is happening at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal!!!
"A sobering exploration of the hypocrisy and double standards that shape the laws of war. Maguire reveals the conflict between American ideology and American imperialism, the Faustian compromises made by our leaders during their elusive quest for justice."—Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking
Theary Seng appealing to legendary film director Oliver Stone to use his celebrity to pressure for Henry Kissinger to appear before the Extraordinary Chambers (ECCC), Univ. of Cambodia, Jan. 2010. ( Please contact photographer Nigel Dickinson if you're interested in using this photo.)
Boeung Rai (or, Bung Rei) security center where Theary Seng was detained as a child and where her mom was killed. Not expressly mentioned in the ECCC scope of investigation even though 30,000 estimated to be killed here. But now, after Civil Party Theary Seng's request, it is mentioned briefly in the Closing Order as a link to Wat Tlork. See Closing Order, above (Photo: DC-Cam)
Theary Seng training on ECCC victims participation in Svay Rieng Province, 2007
Unprecedented victims participation in international law
This Civil Party of Orphans Class outreach program (2007 - mi-2009) aims to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity for the involvement of victims as “Civil Party” within the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (“ECCC” or informally, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal) process.
The Center for Social Development, led by Theary Seng (March 2006-July 2009), was at the forefront of paving the way for as many Cambodians as possible to be directly involved in this process of the ECCC, for we believe that the best way to learn or to have ideas be deeply imbedded in one’s mind is to be actively entangled in the process.
[NOTE: Theary Seng became Executive Director of CSD in March 2006 a few months before the ECCC came into operation and was ousted by a court injunctive order, a personal matter turning political in Juy 2009 at the height of Cambodian victims awareness program in light of ECCC.]
It should be noted we are also deeply engaged with other civil society organizations and applaud their efforts in getting other Cambodians involved in this process. For example, CSD is a steering committee member of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (“CHRAC”) and initiated the idea of using CHRAC as a clearinghouse for civil party applications to ease the administrative burden of the ECCC Victims Unit, and recommended that the German Development Service gives funding to CHRAC rather CSD as CHRAC has 23 organizations as members and this issue requires the use of effective network (which CHRAC certainly is!). CSD has chosen to focus on the narrow, more manageable field of “Orphans Class”; we encourage other organizations to narrow the work by choosing a category – victims as “Prisoners of Detention Centers”, victims of the “Eastern Zone”, victims as “Widows”, victims as “Child Soldiers” etc.
We see the involvement of Cambodians within the ECCC as one effective way for them to know first-hand about the legal process, the rule of law, issues related to human rights, history, reconciliation etc. Hence, we are using the ECCC – despite our continuing concerns of political interference, charges of corruption, lack of independence of Cambodian officials in the ECCC etc. – as a catalyst, as an illustration to make these larger topics “stick” within the mind of Cambodians and thus, more meaningful.
CSD is doing this through using its executive director Theary Seng as a concrete example… the best way to get anything done in this society of empty rhetoric is through REAL EXAMPLE for people to see that it can be done ! – that is one of the principal reasons why CSD executive director became the first applicant and the first civil party to be recognized by the ECCC.
Through this concrete example – from much empty noise to real action – we would like:
(i) to ease the comfort level for other Cambodians to enter the legal/historical process;
(ii) to collect personal stories – not only for the immediate legal benefits, but also for the preservation of memory and legacy; and
(iii) to shape and build on international law.
This is an unprecedented opportunity, and we would like to have other mixed tribunals in the future, e.g. for Darfur, to look upon the Cambodian experience with enthusiasm as a model to follow, and not as a disaster because we did not take hold of the opportunity in the right way or did not have foresight and vision of what this means and could mean.
Case File No. 2 (“Senior KR Leaders”) of ECCC
The window of opportunity to join this “Civil Party of Orphans Class” closes when the Case File No. 2 (Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith) goes to a public hearing (that is investigation/pre-trial stage has closed and the ECCC will hold the trial, estimated earliest mid-2009).
Currently (2006-2009), there is still much confusion about what is a “Civil Party” and how to administratively conduct the participation of Cambodians in this regard – confusion even among the civil society leaders/organizations who are involved in this process of engagement.
Hence, CSD would like again to show through concrete example how it can be done – by breaking down the process into tiny steps: CSD is looking for Cambodians who were orphaned during this time period (April 1975-Jan. 1979)by creating a very specialized class and having the executive director and/or through a victimsassociation representing their interests in the ECCC against senior KR leaders.
At each seminar, the CSD executive director explains about basic legal knowledge about the ECCC criminal proceedings and how the unprecedented civil party fits into it all. The executive director and her team assist the interested participants to complete as much of the Victims Participation Form as possible, with the encouragement that everyone continues writing the narrative of his/her “legal injury” at his/her leisure with private time for thoughts and processing. CSD does not want nor do we accept applications completed on the spot, as this does not allow time for the deepening and processing of what it all means.
These basic materials are given to each participant:
- CSD Fair Trial Handbook
- CSD Understanding Trauma in Cambodia Handbook
- ECCC Q & A Handbook
Provincial Locations of Civil Party of Orphans Class seminars in 2008:
- Svay Rieng (Nov. 2007): 3 seminars on civil party participation.
- Phnom Penh (April 2008): one-full day seminar at CSD conference room for “Civil Party of Orphans Class” conducted by CSD executive director with 10-15 CSD staff and volunteers on hand for assistance; 30 interested victims, also civil society leaders and Victims Unit representative present.
- Koh Kong (7 June 2008): Civil Party of Orphans Class seminar held in Koh Kong after CSD “Justice & National Reconciliation” public forum conducted by CSD executive director Theary Seng.
- Takeo (1 Aug. 2008): Orphans Class seminar after CSD public forum conducted by CSD executive director Theary Seng.
- Kampong Cham (30 Aug. 2008): Orphans Class seminar in Kampong Cham after public forum conducted by senior project assistant SOK Leang.
- Pailin (18 Oct. 2008): Orphans Class seminar in Pailin after public forum, conducted by CSD executive director.
- Battambang (19 Oct. 2008): Orphans Class seminar in Battambang, conducted by CSD executive director.
- Phnom Penh (21 Nov. 2008): Orphans Class meeting, conducted by CSD executive director.
Theary Seng enjoying 5 hours of conversations with Dr. Thomas Lutz (director of all the 100+ museums and memorials spread across Germany), Moritz Kleine-Brockoff of Naumann Friedrich Stiftung (who sponsored Theary's stay in Berlin and arranged the meetings), filmmaker Marc Eberle, after a very extensive tour of the Topography of Terror next to this garden cafe (Berlin, 28 Aug. 2009.)
In addition to these seminars, CSD assists the understanding of victims interested in becoming a civil party with countless discussions via press interviews, round-table radio and TV broadcasts and meetings.
Background and ECCC materials
Please see the following articles and public announcement by way of background:
- www.eccc.gov.kh “Court Documents: Civil Party”, particularly the Application for Declarative Relief, Not for Re-hearing, 17 Aug. 2008.
Seed funding for this Civil Party of Orphans Class comes from the German Development Service (DED).
How you can help:
We need pro bono lawyer(s) with skills in (i) community organizing, (ii) litigation, (iii) writing legal briefs in English, and/or (iv) international law experience, and (v) with at least 6 months to assist this Civil Party of Orphans Class, please contact us.
Reparations / Memorial Expert: As a recognized party in the ECCC criminal proceeding, we as victims, should we win our case, have a right to moral reparation. We need assistance to help us think through our options and learn of other country’s experiences.
Funding to reimburse interested victims and/or civil party applicants to travel to/from their provincial village-Phnom Penh for meetings and ECCC hearings, including their meals and accommodation.
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A LANGUAGE IN CRISIS
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Commentary by Theary C. Seng
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