The Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia is preparing for a verdict in a torture trial whose defendant is accused of committing mass genocide three decades ago. As part of the Khmer Rouge ruling regime, a man known as Comrade Duch is the first of several individuals accused of participating in the mass murder of about two million men, women and children.
While older Cambodians who lived through and survived the Khmer Rouge's rule are paying close attention to the trials and are even testifying in some cases, most younger Cambodians weren't even alive when the genocide took place. Older Cambodians are frustrated at how long it took for the trials to get underway; the Cambodian government, which still contains some Khmer Rouge members, was reluctant to support the trials.
Efforts are being made to teach Cambodia's young people about the history of the Khmer Rouge and the crimes they committed. Busloads of Cambodians are brought to the trials to learn about them and their progress, and an organization called the Cambodia Documentation Center is distributing textbooks throughout the country that teach about the genocide.
Many children were never taught about their country's grim history because their parents and teachers, who lived through it, are too embarrassed to discuss it or don't want to re-live the memories.
"They never learned about this, but they heard about this. Right now, for the first time in 30 years, from grade 9 through 12, also the foundation year of every single university, allowed to study Khmer Rouge history." - Youk Chhang, Khmer Rouge killing fields survivor
"The Cambodian government itself was not that in favor of this court. Even the negotiations to create it took a long period of time. We say that with evidence, over time, evidence loses its value. You're 30 years later, people have forgotten. People have died. So going after those most responsible is really all you're going to get at this point." - Eric Stover, Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley
"It was just like a shock when I go there to the court and see him. When I tell them the truth, they doubt me, ask me a lot of questions. I don't feel the trust when I tell them, and that makes me feel bad. It seems like the accused person has more rights that the civil parties do, and I'm really not satisfied with that." - Van Nath, painter and Khmer Rouge killing fields survivor
1. Where is Cambodia?
2. What is genocide? Where in the world has it occurred?
1. Do you think it's important for Cambodian children to learn about the genocide that happened in their country? Why or why not?
2. Do you think it's a good idea to conduct trials like this decades after the crimes have been committed? Why or why not?
3. According to the video, why was the Cambodian government hesitant to conduct these genocide trials?
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