[ Accueil Totus ] [Cambodia Genocide Controversy]


31/ Etcheson adds precisions


Phnom Penh Post, 25 August 1995.

Genocide program

The Editor,

I am writing in reference to the very interesting commentary piece by Professor Michael Vickery, "The Debate to Apportion Blame" (August 11, 1995). I am concerned that readers of Professor Vickery's article may incorrectly construe that the Cambodian Genocide Program at Yale University is involved in organizing a genocide trial in Cambodia. For the record, we are not.

The purpose of the Cambodian Genocide Program at Yale University is to catalog all available evidence bearing on the question of whether or not it can be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that the leadership of Democratic Kampuchea (DK) violated international criminal laws concerning genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The question of eventual trials for any violations we may uncover lies outside the scope of our mandate. The question of a trial or a tribunal can only be resolved by signatories of the Genocide Convention and other relevant international instruments, most prominently by the duly constituted authorities of Cambodia itself.

Moreover, the thrust of our work is not to "intervene in Cambodian affairs" but rather to work with Cambodians so that they themselves may make informed and effective decisions concerning these matters of crucial national import. All three of the primary projects in the Cambodian Genocide Program&nbsp documentation, training and research&nbsp involve Cambodians at every level.

The Documentation Project depends critically upon the willingness of Cambodians to provide documents and evidence pertaining to what happened during the DK regime, and the vast majority of those involved in collecting and compiling this information with us are Cambodians.

The Training Project involves providing social scientific and legal education to Cambodians so that they can better understand the issues which would be involved in any decision concerning whether, and how, to hold a trial.

The Research Project is focused on encouraging and assisting Cambodians themselves to produce scholarly works on events in Democratic Kampuchea, in the Khmer language. In the past, the vast majority of readings in Cambodian history have been produced by foreign scholars such as Professor Vickery and myself, in languages other than Khmer.

Cambodians should describe their own past, and must choose their own future.

Craig Etcheson,

Manager, Cambodia Genocide Program.


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