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Deacon of Death by Berg, Jan van den

The audience is introduced to Sok Chea, a victim of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 70s, as she confronts Karoby, the man she remembers killing her family and others in their village when she was a child. Karoby has never been brought to trial and still lives in the village where the atrocities took place. The documentary portrays him at his son's wedding and he gets the chance to tell his side of the story.

Social Interest
It seems as if Cambodians in the 21st century are beginning to come to terms with the terror regime of the Khmer Rouge. The villagers speak openheartedly about their recollections and tell their stories, including Karobys. A large portion of the Cambodian population was traumatized and has not yet come to terms with the past. It is to be hoped that talking about what happened will be the first step in the much needed recovery process.

Political Relevance
The Cambodia Tribunal, which began its work in 2005, was a long time coming, as the United Nations and the Cambodian government could not agree on the rules and procedures to be followed. The tribunal falls under the Cambodian judicial system and is not an international court. Surviving Khmer leaders are brought to trial, but the footsoldiers who committed the crimes have not been charged; according to the Cambodia Documentation Center, this means that 5,000 cases will not come before the court.

Historic Relevance
Cambodia gained independence from France in 1953 and was ruled by King Sihanouk until 1970, when he fell victim to a coup organized by Prime Minister Lon Nol and others. Lon Nol became the head of state and a guerrilla conflict began. Despite support by U.S. military forces and the government of South Vietnam, he was ultimately forced to cede power to the guerrillas and their leader, Pol Pot. The Khmer-rouge was officialy called The Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). They controled Cambodia from April 17, 1975 till January 1979 and caused a genocide.

Berg, Jan van den
Copyright Holder
DRS film
65 min.
Year of release

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