CJA represents 45 Cambodian survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Each of these clients was subject to, and bore witness to, egregious violations of international law, including crimes against humanity, genocide, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. By participating in the case against the four senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge, each client seeks justice for themselves, their loved ones, and the people of Cambodia. Here are some of their stories:
Sophany Bay was a schoolteacher in Phnom Penh before the Khmer Rouge came into power. On April 17, 1975, Sophany and her family were forced to leave their homes and belongings behind. She left the city by foot with her three young children and saw corpses scattered along the road out of Phnom Penh. Sophany was then arrested by the Khmer Rouge and put into a labor camp, where she was forced to dig and plow paddy fields and build damns under inhumane conditions. She witnessed the torture and abuse of many civilians. She was later sent to a “reeducation” camp.
Sophany lost about 100 relatives during the Cambodian genocide, including her three young children. Her daughter fell ill and died shortly after a Khmer Rouge soldier injected an unknown substance into her head. Her other two children died from serious illnesses and lack of medical care.
Today, Sophany resides in the United States, but the torture she endured, including the death of her children, traumatized her body and mind. She suffers from mental anguish, sleeping disorders, nightmares and posttraumatic stress disorder. She has been admitted by the ECCC as a civil party in Case 002 and hopes that Cambodia will open mental health facilities as well as educational programs to train mental health professionals within the country to assist other survivors of the genocide.
Civil Party 2 was a lieutenant-colonel in the Cambodian army before the Khmer Rouge came to power. When the Khmer Rouge took control of Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, Civil Party 2 was forced to give up his post, and he and his family were forcibly transferred to a rural village in southwestern Cambodia. There, he and his family were forced into hard labor with very little food. After a few months, they were transferred again to a village in the province of Battambang where they were again forced to work long hours under inhumane conditions. During the two years he was in the labor camp, he witnessed people dying of starvation, exhaustion, and lack of medical care. He was repeatedly detained and threatened with death by the Khmer Rouge. One of his children was executed for stealing food. He lost another child to illness and lack of medical care. Out of his entire family, only two children survived.
Civil Party 2 resettled in the United States but visited Cambodia to witness the first judgment of the ECCC against Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, the prison warden of the infamous Tuol Sleng prison. Civil Party 2 has also been admitted as a civil party in the second case before the ECCC against the four senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge. He hopes that this trial will not only bring accountability for the victims of the mass atrocities, but will also help rebuild Cambodia.
Civil Party 3 and her family were part of the forced evacuation of Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge known as Phase One of the forcible transfer of the civilian population in 1975. They were transferred to a camp in the province of Pursat where they were subject to inhumane treatment and starvation. She was forcibly separated from her husband and was prohibited from caring for her young children. Civil Party 3 lost several family members at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Her father and daughter died of illness and starvation and her mother was tortured and eventually died in a Khmer Rouge prison. Her husband and several of her siblings and relatives also died in labor camps. As a result of these atrocities, Civil Party 3 suffers from severe depression, headaches, body pain, insomnia and nightmares.
Civil Party 3 is now living in the United States and has been admitted as a civil party in the second case before the ECCC. She seeks justice against the Khmer Rouge Leaders responsible for the enslavement of her country. She hopes that Cambodian schools will teach the history of these horrible years and that the country will develop social services and counseling programs for the victims.