យុត្តិធម៌សង្គម – “Social Justice” in Khmer (Phonetic: youttethmr sangkom)
“Social Justice” has had many definitions. The term’s meaning is unknown until the specific meaning is elucidated by the speaker. This post demonstrates why this requirement for clear definition of the term’s use in context is important.
~ Khieu Samphan – Head of State ~
"What I want to say today and what I want my countrymen to hear is that as an intellectual I have never wanted anything other than social justice for my country," Khieu Samphan told the court's seven judges on the final day of the appeal hearing.” [“Top Khmer Rouge leader tells court he fought for 'social justice',” AFP, Feb. 18, 2016]
Khieu Samphan (Khmer: ខៀវ សំផន; born 28 July 1931) is a Cambodian former communist politician and economist who was the chairman of the state presidium of Democratic Kampuchea (Cambodia) from 1976 until 1979. As such, he served as Cambodia's head of state and was one of the most powerful officials in the Khmer Rouge movement, although Pol Pot remained the General Secretary (highest official) in the party. Prior to joining the Khmer Rouge, he was a member of Norodom Sihanouk's Sangkum government. After the 1967 leftist rebellion Sihanouk ordered the arrest of leftists including Samphan, who fled into hiding until the Khmer Rouge takeover in 1975.
On 7 August 2014, along with other members of the regime, he was convicted and received a life sentence for crimes against humanity during the Cambodian genocide, and a further trial found him guilty of genocide in 2018. He is the last surviving senior member of the Khmer Rouge following the death of Nuon Chea in August 2019 and Kang Kek Iew in September 2020. [Wiklipedia]
EXCERPT: Nuon Chea, 92, the movement’s ideologue, was perhaps the truest believer in its attempt to turn Cambodia into an agrarian utopia, killing off its educated people and reorganizing the country into what amounted to a nationwide labor camp. Known as “Brother No. 2” to the late Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, Mr. Nuon Chea had command responsibility over a wave of murderous purges. He later assured an interviewer that “we only killed the bad people, not the good.” [Seth Mydans, “‘We Only Killed the Bad People’: 2 Khmer Rouge Leaders, Forever Linked,” The New York Times, Nov. 16, 2018]
Nuon Chea (Khmer: នួន ជា; born Lao Kim Lorn; 7 July 1926 – 4 August 2019), also known as Long Bunruot (Khmer: ឡុង ប៊ុនរត្ន) or Rungloet Laodi (រុងឡឺត ឡាវឌី Thai: รุ่งเลิศ เหล่าดี), was a Cambodian communist politician and revolutionary who was the chief ideologist of the Khmer Rouge. He also briefly served as acting Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea. He was commonly known as "Brother Number Two" (Khmer: បងធំទី២), as he was second-in-command to Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, General Secretary of the Party, during the Cambodian genocide of 1975–1979. In 2014, Nuon Chea received a life sentence for crimes against humanity, alongside another top-tier Khmer Rouge leader, Khieu Samphan, and a further trial convicted him of genocide in 2018. He died while serving his sentences in 2019. [Wiklipedia]
~ The 1975-1979 Genocide ~
The Cambodian genocide (Khmer: ហាយនភាពខ្មែរ or ការប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ខ្មែរ; French: Génocide cambodgien) was the systematic persecution and killing of Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge under the leadership of Pol Pot, who radically pushed Cambodia towards communism. It resulted in the deaths of 1.5 to 2 million people from 1975 to 1979, nearly a quarter of Cambodia's 1975 population (c. 7.8 million).
Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge had long been supported by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Mao Zedong; it is estimated that at least 90% of the foreign aid to Khmer Rouge came from China, with 1975 alone seeing at least US$1 billion in interest-free economic and military aid from China. After seizing power in April 1975, the Khmer Rouge wanted to turn the country into a socialist agrarian republic, founded on the policies of ultra-Maoism and influenced by the Cultural Revolution. Pol Pot and other Khmer Rouge officials met with Mao in Beijing in June 1975, receiving approval and advice, while high-ranking CPC officials such as Zhang Chunqiao later visited Cambodia to offer help. To fulfill its goals, the Khmer Rouge emptied the cities and forced Cambodians to relocate to labor camps in the countryside, where mass executions, forced labor, physical abuse, malnutrition, and disease were rampant. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge changed the name of the country to Democratic Kampuchea.
By January 1979, 1.5 to 2 million people had died due to the Khmer Rouge's policies, including 200,000 - 300,000 Chinese Cambodians, 90,000 Muslims, and 20,000 Vietnamese Cambodians. 20,000 people passed through the Security Prison 21, one of the 196 prisons the Khmer Rouge operated, and only seven adults survived. The prisoners were taken to the Killing Fields, where they were executed (often with pickaxes, to save bullets) and buried in mass graves. Abduction and indoctrination of children was widespread, and many were persuaded or forced to commit atrocities. As of 2009, the Documentation Center of Cambodia has mapped 23,745 mass graves containing approximately 1.3 million suspected victims of execution. Direct execution is believed to account for up to 60% of the genocide's death toll, with other victims succumbing to starvation, exhaustion, or disease.
The genocide triggered a second outflow of refugees, many of whom escaped to neighboring Vietnam and, to a lesser extent, Thailand. The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia ended the genocide by defeating the Khmer Rouge in January 1979. On 2 January 2001, the Cambodian government established the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to try the members of the Khmer Rouge leadership responsible for the Cambodian genocide. Trials began on 17 February 2009. On 7 August 2014, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were convicted and received life sentences for crimes against humanity committed during the genocide. [Wikipedia]