Wednesday, September 19, 2007

For Whom Hell Is Too Good

UN security forces from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed During the Period of Democratic Kampuchea have arrested Nuon Chea, otherwise known as "Brother No. 2." Nuon Chea, who has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, is the highest ranking surviving member of the Khmer Rouge, was Prime Minister of the Central Committee, and served as Pol Pot's second-in-command.

The Khmer Rouge began its insurgency against the Cambodian government in 1968, and seized control of the government in 1975. It then attempted to remake Cambodia into an classless, agrarian workers' paradise, by relocating the entire urban population into the agricultural communes in the countryside, abolishing money, religion, and property, and executing any groups seen as dangerous to the new regime, including the intelligentsia (identifiable in some cases by those who wore glasses or anyone with a formal education). By the time the Khmer Rouge was ejected from Cambodia by Vietnamese troops in 1979, an estimated one-quarter of Cambodia's population -- 2 million out of 8 million -- had died from torture, execution, overwork, disease, and starvation.

While Pol Pot died before being brought to justice, in 1997 Cambodia established, in cooperation with the UN, a tribunal to try any surviving members of Khmer Rouge. Due to financial difficulties, the court has had a difficult time in making progress, but in May 2006, 30 judges were approved to hear cases. Trials are expected to begin in August 2008.

Normally, I'm not a fan of international tribunals. They waste too much money, take too long, and have too difficult a time proving their cases. But, in this case, there don't seem to be too many alternatives.

Let's hope Nuon Chea lives long enough to stand trial and to be condemned for his actions. A lifetime of eternal torment in hell is far too good for this man.

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