State Department Doubles Funding For Cambodian Genocide Program

The U.S. State Department has approved a $1 million grant to help finance the Cambodian Genocide Program’s work at Yale and in Cambodia for the next five years. A previous grant for $500,000 lapses this year.

The Cambodian Genocide Program – CGP, which is based at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, is an ongoing research project that has documented and released information on the Internet detailing atrocities committed under the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, 1975-79. Approximately 1.7 million Cambodians are believed to have perished under that regime, headed by Pol Pot. The World Wide Web site – http://www.yale.edu/cgp – is the product of two years of intensive documentation work funded by grants from the U.S. State Department, the Australian government, and several private foundations.

“I am pleased to inform you that we have decided to award Yale a grant in the amount of $1 million for continued funding of the Cambodian Genocide Program,” the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the State Department wrote in its announcement letter. “We view the project as highly successful thus far, and believe it important that the program be enabled to complete its task of investigating, documenting, and analyzing the Cambodian genocide.”

Other recent grants in support of the project include those from the Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., the Dutch government, and the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies.

“We are grateful for this recognition of our achievements on the part of the State Department. The information we have made public on the Internet represents the largest collection of data so far assembled on Khmer Rouge violations of human rights, and includes a large amount of previously unknown material,” says Ben Kiernan, director of the Cambodian Genocide Program and professor of Southeast Asian History at Yale. Professor Kiernan is a native of Melbourne, Australia, and author of “The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1979,” published by Yale University Press in 1996. “We now have the opportunity to establish a comprehensive physical and electronic archive,” Professor Kiernan says.

“This new grant will allow us to greatly expand the amount of information available to governments who may wish to pursue legal sanctions for Khmer Rouge crimes against humanity,” says Craig Etcheson, acting director of the CGP. “It is a particularly timely and important grant, in view of recent declarations by United Nations’ envoys to the effect that they expect to soon receive a formal request from the Royal Cambodian Government for the establishment of an international criminal tribunal to pass judgment on the crimes of the Khmer Rouge.”

The Internet site was developed for the World Wide Web by the Cambodian Genocide Program – CGP – in collaboration with a team led by Dr. Helen Jarvis, CGP documentation consultant and head of the School of Information, Library and Archive Studies at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

The site is divided into four data bases, augmented by a bulletin board that includes photographs and extensive excerpts from a secret diary of the former foreign ministry, headed by Ieng Sary from 1975 to 1979. In September 1996, the king of Cambodia granted a limited amnesty to Mr. Sary when he broke with the rebel forces led by his brother-in-law, Pol Pot. The two, along with other Khmer Rouge leaders, have been linked to the killing of hundreds of thousands of Cambodians.

In 1995 the CGP established the Documentation Center of Cambodia in Phnom Penh to facilitate field operations and train Cambodians in research and documentation techniques. Now, after two years, the Documentation Center has become an independent research institute for the study of the Khmer Rouge genocide, with a large archive of original documents. Youk Chhang, former United Nations staff member and survivor of the genocide, has been named executive director of the Center. He is assisted by an all-Cambodian board of directors.

Interviews with Mr. Kiernan and Mr. Etcheson can be arranged, as well as “tours” and demonstrations of the web site.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325