Tearful Cambodians attended a re-enactment of a massacre by the Khmer Rouge at a “Day of Anger” ceremony yesterday and demanded long jail terms for ex-regime leaders facing trial.
Thousands of people, including monks and children, watched black-clad students mime raping, bludgeoning and shooting victims near the mass graves of thousands of prisoners at a former killing field outside Phnom Penh.
“I am speechless about my suffering under the Khmer Rouge. It was more than 30 years ago now, but I still remember my pain,” said Tim Pho, 75, who lost 15 family members during the communist movement’s rule from 1975 to 1979.
The annual Day of Anger ceremony comes just weeks before the start of a high-profile genocide trial involving the movement’s four most senior surviving leaders, including “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea.
“I want the four Khmer Rouge leaders to get very serious sentences so that they will be in jail for life,” Tim Pho said.
Led by “Brother Number One” Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the Marxist regime emptied cities and abolished money and schools in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.
Up to 2 million people were executed or died from starvation, overwork or torture during the brutal reign.
Former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, was sentenced to 30 years in jail in July last year for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
He was the first person to face justice at Cambodia’s UN-backed court. The case is now under appeal.