Justice

A few evenings ago, we had dinner with the students of Handong Global University and Handong International Law School. The featured guest was Theary Seng, author of Daughter of the Killing Fields. Ms. Seng grew up under the Khmer Rouge regime, when three million Cambodians were slaughtered by the revolutionary government. Two of the victims were her parents.

Ms’. Seng spoke about Cambodian history and politics. She also talked about the tribunal currently (30 years after the fact) prosecuting Kang Kek Iew, the governor of the Tuol Sleng prison–an infamous scene of torture–and other war criminals. Given its composition and powers, Seng said, the tribunal could only deliver partial justice at best. “There are many people with bloody hands, mixing in society with their victims,”and the line of demarcation is not clear,”she said. “Many of the perpetrators are themselves victims.” Seng, who now lives in Phnom Penh,  relocated with her family to Grand Rapids in the 1970s and attended Millbrook Christian School. She said that if the person who killed her mother would confess and apologize to her, it would mean more to her than any retribution delivered by a tribunal.

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