On May 20, 2020, the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) commemorates the Cambodian Genocide, one of the most fatal genocides of the 20th century. During the brutality that took place between 1975 and 1979, approximately 1.7 million individuals – over 20% of the Cambodian population – lost their lives. Under the leadership of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge regime carried out a series of atrocities that included mass executions, displacement, forced labor, and exposure to starvation and disease. Marked by the date on which the genocide began, the annual commemoration serves to recognize the victims and their families through memorial events and reenactments, and also aids in facilitating national reconciliation and memory processes.
In 2001, the Cambodian National Assembly adopted legislation establishing the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea (ECCC). The country subsequently entered into an arrangement with the United Nations in order to facilitate international support for the ECCC’s proceedings. An official fact sheet with important information and figures regarding ECCC prosecutions as of mid-2019, can be found below.
On the 2020 Day of Remembrance, the Auschwitz Institute remembers the incredible number of lives claimed by the Cambodian Genocide and reaffirms the importance of our shared responsibility for preventing future genocides and other mass atrocities. AIPG also acknowledges the necessity of processes for national and international criminal justice as well as other measures for truth, justice, and memory for post-conflict atrocity prevention. It is only through a comprehensive defense of fundamental human rights and the rule of law, as well as full accountability for grave international crimes, that “Never Again” can be made a reality.