By The Genocide Report
25 August 2016
The Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which is attempting to hold the remaining leaders of the Pol Pot regime accountable for implementing policies of rape as a consequence for refusing to consummate a forced marriage, has allowed witnesses to give testimony and possibly see justice for the crimes committed against them.
Witness statements revealed the horrifying details of rape. One witness, testifying under condition of anonymity, said that her assailant threatened to kill her if she screamed during the ordeal. After the rape she was forced to live with her new husband.
It is estimated that at least a half million Cambodians were subjected to forced marriages, even if they were already married prior to the regime reaching power. Witnesses testified to forced marriages, rape, unwanted pregnancies and the breakdown of society committed by the former regime's top officers.
According to statements, couples were announced and then forced to participate in a brief ceremony, lasting only a few minutes in which the participants were forced to pledge loyalty to the regime and their partner. In most cases the couple did not know each other, but met after the reading of their names.
Those who refused to participate or cooperate were 'disappeared' or sent to detention or torture centers.
The forced marriages are believed to be the idea of Nuon Chea, now 90 and one of the last living members of the Khmer Rouge leadership being tried at the Tribunal. He is being tried along with Khieu Samphan, now 85. Both men were found guilty in 2014 of crimes against humanity and are serving life sentences. The current trial includes the charges of forced marriage, implementing policies of rape and genocide against ethnic minorities.
The charge of forced marriage was added after the charges of crimes against humanity and genocide. The first hurdle was to argue that forced marriage is a crime. Considering that crimes against women have moved at a slower pace, the deciding argument indicated that in order for the men in the forced marriage to consummate the relationship, they had to rape their wife - which is a crime.
Although many of the couples stayed together after the regime's fall in 1979, others separated later. Nearly 75 percent of the couples had children, according to a Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) report.
The Khmer Rouge entered power in 1975 with a mission of creating an agrarian utopia. It forced people from cities to work in the fields. Four years later, when the regime ended, at least 1.7 million people had been killed through political purges, starvation and disease.
Featured Image: Former Khmer Rouge officer, Nuon Chea on trial in Cambodia for genocide, implementing policies of rape and forced marriage. Photo/EPA/MAK