Overview/Background and Causes of Human Rights Violation:
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The end of the war did not end the chaos and violence in Southeast Asia; specifically in Cambodia. Cambodia, also known as Kampuchea, had suffered from U.S. bombing during the war; it remained unstable for years, as the people had to recover from the destruction to regions of their country. In the year of 1975, Communist rebels known as the Khmer Rouge, set up a Communist government under the leader named Pol Pot.
Pol Pot had hoped to transform Cambodia into a rural society; cutting down any threat that stood in his way. Pol Pot's followers slaughtered 2 million people that posed as resistance or threat to their cause. 2 million people's deaths accounted for almost a quarter of the whole population of Cambodia. In 1978, a Vietnamese invasion overthrew the Khmer Rouge. In 1989, the Vietnamese finally withdrew, and in 1993, under the supervision of UN peacekeepers, Cambodia adopted a democratic constitution and held their first free election. Pol Pot was captured and detained in 1997 for the war crimes and genocide he had caused.

-Also, because of where Cambodia was located, soon the Vietnam War spilled into Cambodia. In 1970 a military coup d'etat sent King Norodom Sihanouk into exile and replaced what had been a constitutional monarchy with a regime run by a pro-American officer, Lon Nol. Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos islands were to be a single battlefield where the communists could wage war against U.S. imperialism. To close off supply routes to the Vietcong on the Cambodian side of the border, the U.S. launched a series of bombing attacks on Cambodia. Between 1970 and 1973, U.S. forces dropped three times the quantity of explosives on Cambodia that it had dropped on Japan during WWII. By the year 1975, the destruction in Cambodia had exhausted the people; the economy was broken due to hyperinflation which was speculated to have been caused by large U.S. aid infusion; the currency was almost worthless. Even the national staple of rice became scarce. Throughout the years of Khmer Rouge rule over Cambodia, tensions have increased between Cambodia and Vietnam; a conflict that was spurred by ethnic reasons. The Khmer Rouge began to covet land in the region of South Vietnam, mainly populated by ethnic Cambodians. China pledged support with Cambodia, but recommended that they abstain from going to war. At the end of 1977, Vietnam launched a strike, sending forces 20 miles into Cambodian territory and seizing some villages.


Actions Taken to Improve Situation:
-The Cambodian Genocide Program is a project of the Genocide Studies Program at the Yale Center of International and Area Studies, established in 1994. The objective of this program is "to learn as much as possible about the tragedy and to help determine who was responsible for the crimes of the Pol Pot regime." This program has expanded its research to include the Holocaust and other countries in which there has been genocide: Bosnia, Rwanda, East Timor, Guatemala, and Sudan.
-On March 17, 2003, after five years of difficult negotiations, the UN and Cambodian government was able to establish an international criminal tribunal to try former Khmer Rouge leaders. In spite of obstacles, the Cambodian parliament finally approved a law to establish a war crimes tribunal for surviving members of the Khmer Rouge regime, in October 2004. But even with these efforts, it is likely that many of the top leaders will never be faced with prosecution, or account. According to the British Newspaper, "Guardian", as many as 50,000 former Khmer Rouge fighters are now serving in government positions; five of them being cabinet ministers. Moreover, several of the highest ranking Khmer Rouge leaders, including Pol Pot's brother-in-law, Nuon Chea, and former foreign minister Ieng Sary, have been effectively pardoned; all making the quest of prosecuting all those afiliated with the crimes inflicted by the Khmer Rouge, all the more difficult.

-Also, authorized by the UN Security Council immediately prior to the adoption of the 1991 Paris Agreements, the United Nations Advance Mission in Cambodia began to operate in November. With a staff of 1,504 military and civilian personnel, their objectives were to assist the four factions of the Cambodian civil war to maintain the cease-fire agreement made in June. Their goal was also to lay the foundation for a more elaborate UN peacekeeping operation in 1992. This organization terminated in 1992, when the United nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) was founded and began to operate.

Current Status:
-On March 17, 2003, after five years of difficult negotiations, the UN reached a draft agreement with the Cambodian government. The cost of the tribunal was about $50 million, and it was expected to be in operation for atleast three years, Under the terms of the agreement, the judges were to be Cambodian; this angered human rights groups that maintained that the judges would be subjected to pressure by the government. However by march 2004, the UN was confident that an arrangement could be agreed upon for at least one-third of those involved in the tribunal to be drawn from outside Cambodia.
-Internal politics have weakened diplomatic efforts to conduct war trials of former Khmer Rouge officials. If Hun Sen is reluctant to try them because of fears they may implicate him or others now in power, the political opposition is concerned that a tribunal, might ruin the prime minister's image.

WHY is this Important:
-This event and its message to the rest of the world's nations is important. Why? Because the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge and other communist parties imparted destruction and chaos on the lands of not only Cambodia but areas surrounding, including Vietnam. Today, ethnic tensions still exist between Vietnam and Cambodia; disputes over territory and trade.
-Corruption has plagued the nation of Cambodia. The government has made an effort to collect weapons from an excessively armed population but even this well publicized campaign has had problems; many of the weapons later ended up being sold in the black market. The country's national de-mining agency, the Cambodian Mine Action Center, has also been accused of corruption and mismanagement. Freedom of the press is a right of the people, however the government still controls most of the radio and television stations; dangerous if future power and takeover were to occur.

Picture/Cartoon:
A child observes the remains of the dead; under the rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime, millions of Cambodians were persecuted, repressed, and killed. A severe violation of human rights, the Khmer Rouge forced the whole population of city Phnom Penh to evacuate the city on foot. Those who refused were shot, as were hospital patients unable to make the journey. The whole country was turned into a forced labour camp. Pol Pot, achieving his dream of Year Zero, declared Cambodia to be a peasant economy in which there would be no schools, class divisions, hospitals, or religion. This, initially condemned Cambodia to a period of vast decline.
A child observes the remains of the dead; under the rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime, millions of Cambodians were persecuted, repressed, and killed. A severe violation of human rights, the Khmer Rouge forced the whole population of city Phnom Penh to evacuate the city on foot. Those who refused were shot, as were hospital patients unable to make the journey. The whole country was turned into a forced labour camp. Pol Pot, achieving his dream of Year Zero, declared Cambodia to be a peasant economy in which there would be no schools, class divisions, hospitals, or religion. This, initially condemned Cambodia to a period of vast decline.

Video/Link:

So What?

-The bombing of Cambodia, because Vietnam and the Laos were no bombing zones, became widespread and destructive. This added to the effects on the people of Cambodia; staggering the economy and lowering the morale of the people who under the rule of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge regime had been abused and oppressed. The genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge and other communist parties imparted destruction and chaos on the lands of not only Cambodia but areas surrounding, including Vietnam. Today, ethnic tensions still exist between Vietnam and Cambodia; disputes over territory and trade. And because it was American bombing of Cambodia, during the war, it further causes tensions to arise between the nations.

Sources:

1) Horvitz, Leslie Alan, and Christopher Catherwood. "Cambodian Genocide Program." Encyclopedia of War Crimes and Genocide. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE53&iPin=EWCG073&SingleRecord=True (accessed May 29, 2009).
2) Horvitz, Leslie Alan, and Christopher Catherwood. "war crimes in Cambodia." Encyclopedia of War Crimes and Genocide. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE53&iPin=EWCG072&SingleRecord=True (accessed May 29, 2009).
3) Silliman, G. S. "United Nations Advance Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC)." In Pubantz, Jerry, and John Allphin Moore Jr. Encyclopedia of the United Nations, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE53&iPin=EUNN0384&SingleRecord=True (accessed May 30, 2009).