Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Work Work Work

Well, we finally got down to research. Yesterday we spent all day at the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) doing archival research. DC-Cam is the main archives for the Khmer Rouge genocide, and they are the main providers of evidence to the ECCC trials. Pretty cool that we get to work with them! The staff started their day at 7, but luckily we didn't have to be there until 9! We did get a nice long lunch break though; from 11:30-2:00! Enough time for a siesta! A few of us went to check out the infamous Russian Market, but, contrary to what I thought, it didn't end up being Russian at all. Maybe I was being way out there when I expected there to be stands selling pirushkas and other Russian food (clearly I was hungry), but it ended up being like the Silk Market in Beijing; stuffy, crowded, and touristy. Rows and rows of stalls selling pretty much the same trinkets, scarves, and bags. Oh, and did I mention how hot it was? I think it was around 110 degrees F yesterday, no joke. So we left and had Indian food for lunch closer to our hotel, Villa Langka, and then back to DC-Cam for more archival research in the afternoon! I think we all were pretty exhausted by the end of the day.

For dinner we went out with some of the staff of DC-Cam who are working with us, which was really fun. I learned some more Khmer; Chhma Khnhom Twat Na; Ah Dei, Khnhom Chong Daa; Loh Krou Khnhom Luoy Na! Ask me for the translations. I really hope I'll be able to remember all this!

Today we spent the day interviewing. First we went to interview Helen Jarvis who is the head of the Victims Support Sector, but we sort of got shanghai-ed with that one. Turns out when we got there they double booked us with another group (law students from USF...) and Helen Jarvis didn't even show up (she was sick). We did get a nice and informative talk with Paul Oertly, who works with Helen, but still.

Then we went to the ECCC court, yes, the ACTUAL court, to interview Craig Etchinson, who is a USC alum and the chief prosecutor for Case 002. Pretty damn cool. He has the awesome job of deciding who to arrest and put on trial, and according to him, there are thousands of former Khmer Rouge that he would love to put on trial, but for political and other reasons has to narrow it down. In addition to Duch, who's trial was Case 001 (and we are now awaiting the verdict of his trial) and the senior Khmer leaders who are in Case 002, Craig said that it is possible 5 specific others will be brought to trial, though he was not allowed to disclose who. Oh and during our entire interview, Duch (head of S-21 prison, Case 001), and Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, and Khieu Samphan (senior Khmer Rouge leaders, Case 002), were imprisoned in a building not 20 yards away from where we were sitting. It was pretty eerie and chilling being so close to such ruthless and heartless murderers. Just seeing the building where all 5 are being held confirmed for me that I hope they get what they deserve from the ECCC trials. What's unfortunate is Craig says they don't seem to feel remorse for what they've done and the pain they've caused; they still think they were right all along, or they blame each other. Disgusting.

In the afternoon we went to the French embassy to sit down with the French ambassador to Cambodia. First of all, the French embassy is beautiful; someone said it was like a little jungle. He even has a backyard with deer in it! One such deer made an appearance during our talk. The ambassador was very nice to speak with us.

It rained today! Even thunder and lightening. I didn't think it was supposed to rain in Cambodia! Actually it poured; it reminded me of Boston in the summer when it's hot and humid all day and then all of a sudden at 4 o'clock the skies open up for about 30 minutes, then clear. Except the difference here is that the air is still humid and hot after the rain; it might cool a degree or too, but it's still so hot!

Tomorrow is our first outing to a province for interviews. I can't wait to see what will happen!


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