69-year-old Mr. Kham Lun, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, is well known among the villagers in his home province of Siem Reap. Since 2009, he has been disseminating information about the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), and has helped bring more than 6,000 visitors to the court.
“I am proud to have served my nation and people,” said Mr. Kham Lun, who is a former government official and NGO worker. “What I have voluntarily dedicated my physical and mental strength and time for is that I feel the need to make people know the place where trials are conducted and that they can observe the court proceedings in person.”
As part of his efforts, Mr. Kham Lun tells villagers about the ECCC’s Study Tours, which bring groups of villagers to Phnom Penh to see the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek and the courtroom at the ECCC. During some field trips, religious ceremonies are held at the Killing Fields to commemorate the deaths of Khmer Rouge vicims. For example, on their last trip, said Mr. Kham Lun, 79 monks were invited to attend the Buddhist ceremony of Bang Skaul at Choeung Ek.
Mr. Kham Lun said he tries in particular to educate the young people in his province about the trials of the former Khmer Rouge leaders as well as what happened during the regime, as they did not experience it. “I long for the younger generations, who witness the accused being brought to the dock, to think that if they become future lead- ers they will never choose to do like what [the Khmer Rouge] had done,” said Mr. Kham Lun. It is believed that at least 1.7 million people perished during the Khmer Rouge regime as a result of executions, torture, starvation, diseases and harsh living conditons. During the Khmer Rouge regime, Mr. Kham Lun said he was forced to do hard labour. He lost five members of his family.
He said that following the proceedings at the ECCC, including the cross-examination sessions of the accused in Cases 001 and 002, has been significant in helping him better understand what happened during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Several aims motivate Mr. Kham Lun and the other villagers to come to the court, according to Mr. Kham Lun: “First, we want to let the court and its staff members know that many people support and want to participate in the proceedings. Secondly, we would like to witness the actual trial pro-ceedings of the former Khmer Rouge lead-ers, to see whether they are accurately con ducted in a way we have expected. We therefore want to follow the proceedings to see whether these hybrid courts are able to prosecute them to the Cambodian people’s satisfaction or to mine.”
So far, Mr. Kham Lun said, the trials at the ECCC have built his confidence in the court. And, he said, he appreciates that the court has allocated funds to bring visitors from across Cambodia to visit the ECCC and witness the proceedings.Mr. Kham Lun will continue to disseminate information about the ECCC to villagers and help bring more people to visit the court until its completion. “My commitment with the court will re main until the court comes to an end,” he said. “What I want is justice for the victims and those who perished.”
Since 2009, more than 120,000 people have visited the ECCC from across Cambodia and throughout the world.