In Phnom Penh, a Cambodian psychiatrist has recently gone on record and testified that over 40% of the population suffers from psychological trauma caused by the Khmer Rouge brutal and traumatic four-year rule. Research has been conducted extensively on the Khmer Rouge period, which found that two out of five Cambodians have suffered extreme mental problems and even psychosocial crises due to the regime
The studies also found that a very high percentage of Cambodians have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the torture centers. Many of the Cambodians suffering today were only young adults at the time or worse children.
Chim Sotheara, known as Duch, was a commander stationed at a Khmer Rouge torture center from 1975 to 1979. He has testified various times that they trained people to not trust each other and this has continued into the Cambodian way of life today. Many people are happy that Duch is finally facing trial for his actions, hoping that it will offer a small amount of closure to Khmer Rouge victims – and give them a chance at a healing process.
It is a time that evokes extremely painful memories in Cambodia, Duch is one of five high standing senior Khmer Rouge figures scheduled to face the justice system. Though Cambodia does not have a death penalty, he could find himself behind bars for the rest of his life.
Khmer Rouge was a popular name given to the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) that ruled Cambodia from 1975 until 1979. Their regime was highly autocratic, very xenophobic, along with being paranoid and repressive. Extremely large numbers of people were killed and massacred following their social engineering policies. They simply murdered anyone that they saw as a political opponent, and conducted several genocides of Cambodian minorities. Ultimately it led to the deaths of over 2 million people, which was around 25% of Cambodia’s population at the time.
In 2014, several of their leaders were jailed for life by a United Nations-backed court for crimes against humanity, mostly due to their genocidal campaigns.