Friday, September 21, 2007
Justice for All
Certain events transpire to remind us of the countless injustices of the world. This past Wednesday the arrest of Nuon Chea called attention back to the seldom-remembered horrors of the Khmer Rouge. Also known as "Brother Number Two," Chea served as deputy leader to Pol Pot, the enigmatic figure who led the brutal regime that terrorized Cambodia from 1975-1980. During their reign, approximately 2 million Cambodians died by torture, execution, or starvation as the Khmer Rouge sought to turn Cambodia into an agrarian utopia. The cities were evacuated by force, the people were forced into rice fields and farm land, and anyone who resisted was punished.
For more than 26 years after the Khmer Rouge was routed from power, its leaders were not held to account. Until this year, no conviction had ever been sought for the brutalities committed against the Cambodian people. When I discovered this fact on my first trip to Cambodia in 2006, my only thought was, "Where is justice in this?" How could such evil go unpunished?
Charges are finally being brought against the most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge. Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, was charged July 31, 2007 for his role as commander of S21, the most imfamous torture camp in the country. Chea's arrest represents the highest ranking leader who will be charged; Pol Pot died in 1998.
It's hard to imagine that anything can be done on this earth to cover the evil done by the Khmer Rouge. A part of me is so disturbed by my visits to S21 and the Killing Fields that my own rage terrifies me. These feelings must be shared to an exponentially greater degree by the people of Cambodia, whose parents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters died at the hands of this murderous regime. Could any tribunal ever exact justice for horrors such as these?
Yet, all of the oppressors and perpetrators of the Khmer Rouge and every other diabolical government will stand before The Judge who does have the power to properly see justice done. Those who remain defiant, as Chea has to this point, will receive unspeakable punishment. The ones who turn to Christ in repentance before that day, as Duch claims to, will be pardoned, their punishments being carried out on a hill in Palestine in the days of the Romans.
And what of the one who has caused all of this, the hater who champions injustice? Will justice ever be done?