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Cambodians and the Khmer Rouge

The Advocates has a long history of working with members of Minnesota’s Cambodian community to raise awareness of the human rights violations perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979.

On June 9, 1990, at the Minnesota State Capitol, the Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee held a mock trial of the Khmer Rouge leadership for the crime of genocide. Members of Minnesota’s Khmer (Cambodian) immigrant community served as witnesses in the mock trial, emotionally recounting their personal experiences in the years 1975-79, a period in which an estimated 1.7 million people were killed by the Khmer Rouge-led government of Cambodia.  At the conclusion of the mock trial, a panel of Minnesota public officials serving as members of the “International Court of Justice” found Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, and his agents guilty of the crime of genocide.

The 1990 mock trial led to the Khmer Oral History Project, during which members of the Khmer community were interviewed on videotape about their experiences during the years of the genocide in Cambodia, their experiences in refugee camps, and their emigration to the United States.  Each interview includes a transcript, available in English and Khmer as appropriate. Copyright in the interviews is held by Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights.

Read and listen to the interviews here

A video of the mock trial and some of the videos from the Khmer Oral History Project have been entered into the evidentiary record at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Yet more than two decades after The Advocates' mock trial, only one Khmer Rouge leader has actually been brought to justice, and recent developments at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have prompted many to conclude that the Cambodian government is obstructing efforts to prosecute additional Khmer Rouge leaders. In Justice delayed may be justice denied for Minnesota Cambodians, a MinnPost Community Voices column, Deputy Director Jennifer Prestholdt and Staff Attorney Amy Bergquist call for an end to the Cambodian government’s culture of impunity.

Click here for more information about the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

Videos from The Advocates' mock trial: Minnesotans Put Khmer Rouge on Trial for Crimes of Genocide:

See a video of the Opening Statements here

See a video Summary of Trial Testimony and the Verdict here

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