Textbooks to document KR

23 December 2009 by Jared Ferrie

In the shade of trees draping over the schoolyard, 3,000 students sit on sheets of newspaper, in crisp white shirts and black skirts or slacks. They wait patiently for the ceremony to end, then teachers walk between the neat rows handing out textbooks – the first in Cambodia’s history to document the Khmer Rouge in detail.

Students flip eagerly through the pages. Some of them sit in solitary silence, while others turn to their classmates to comment. Shock registers visibly on some of their faces.

It’s a moment that could not have happened without the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Despite allegations of corruption and political interference that taint the United Nations-backed tribunal, proponents and critics alike agree that it has sparked a national awakening.

“It has generated the new curriculum in schools. Moreover you also generate community discussion,” said Panhavuth Long, of the Open Society Justice Institute, adding that such discussion may yield methods more effective than trials for Cambodians to reconcile with the past.

On the record
Cambodian television stations broadcast live footage of much of the first trial. The court itself received almost 30,000 visitors during 9-months of testimony, according to court officials.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

21 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Being the ICC's Chief Prosecutor is a delicate and politically sensitivejob.ForLuisMorenoOcampo it has been "the best job in the world." Fatou Bensouda will be taking over his office in June. She inhe

07 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

December 7, 2011 Ivory Coast is the latest playgroundoftheInternationalCriminal Court. This week the courtroom in The Hague became its theatre of justice. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo proudly p

07 December 2011 by Richard Walker

Four Congolese witnesses testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, find themselves caught in a legal wrangle, which could at once set a legal precedent and make them the last

07 December 2011 by Lindy Janssen

Brazil is booming. The economy is expanding and the country is getting ready to host the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. But the Latin American giant has not even begun dealing wi

07 December 2011 by Radosa Milutinovic

The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved.