Cambodian Genocide Program Expands Database

With Cambodian and world opinion focusing on the developing prospect of an international criminal tribunal for the newly surrendered Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, the Cambodian Genocide Program (CGP) at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies has announced a major new release of data on the CGP’s World Wide Website.

“January 7, 1999, marks the twentieth anniversary of the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime,” said Yale History Professor Ben Kiernan, founder and director of the CGP. “Even today we are finding new evidence documenting the genocidal crimes of that regime.”

Tying individuals to specific decisions, events, crimes, and victims, the CGP has developed the largest single collection of physical and electronic materials on the Pol Pot period in Cambodian history.

The new release significantly enhances the program’s Cambodian Genocide Data Base. The CGP has added more than 3,000 new detailed bilingual records to its Biographical Database, which now contains about 10,500 such records on individual members of the Khmer Rouge and their victims.

Also new are 900 descriptive records in the Bibliographic Database, which now includes more than 3,000 electronic records relating to documents on the Khmer Rouge period from 1975 to 1979. The new records are mostly bilingual, with summaries in both Khmer and English, including 100 documents from Thailand on the genocide then occurring in neighboring Cambodia. In many cases, the records are “hot-linked” to scanned images of the original Khmer documents.

The Cambodian Genocide Data Base was developed by the CGP with the assistance of the School of Information, Library and Archive Studies at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia, and the Documentation Center of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. The CGP website URL is www.yale.edu/cgp.

The CGP has also added a new “Translations” section to its website. This section features “The Pol Pot Files,” translated confidential correspondence to and from the top Khmer Rouge leader. It also includes the full 300-page text of “Ieng Sary’s Regime,” a confidential diary of the Khmer Rouge Foreign Ministry during the genocide, translated by the CGP in collaboration with the Documentation Center. Another feature is the secret autobiography of Thiounn Prasith, who was the Khmer Rouge ambassador to the United Nations in New York. The autobiography was discovered in an archive of hundreds of thousands of pages of Khmer-language documents collected by the Santebal, the Khmer Rouge secret police. This archive was obtained by the CGP in 1996. Other Santebal documents translated by the CGP include a detailed description of the order of battle of the Khmer Rouge army during the period of the genocide.

The CGP has also translated the Khmer Rouge’s internal biographical questionnaire from the Santebal files. More than 10,000 members of the ultra-secret Communist Party of Kampuchea were required by the Khmer Rouge to fill out these questionnaires, the originals of which are now held by the Documentation Center of Cambodia. The Documentation Center is an archive founded by the CGP in Phnom Penh in 1995 and launched in 1997 as an independent Cambodian research institute on the genocide, funded by the CGP through grants from the U.S. Department of State. In collaboration with the Documentation Center, the biographical forms are being used to compile thousands of additional electronic records on Khmer Rouge officials.

Another new addition to the CGP site is a powerful interactive computerized map of the Killing Fields. The software, generously provided and mounted on the Web by the School of Geomatic Engineering at the University of New South Wales, permits users to search Cambodian provincial and local geography for hundreds of sites of former Khmer Rouge prisons and extermination camps, mass graves of the victims, and memorials.

The CGP will soon add “hot-linked” access to related documents and photographs for each genocide site, electronically recorded by the CGP in collaboration with the Documentation Center. Funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Netherlands Foreign Ministry, and the Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies has allowed the CGP’s mapping project to complete four seasons in the field, with more than 380 sites recorded since 1995.

Other data available on the website include 50 computer-drawn maps of the killing fields and more than 5,000 photographs of victims taken by the Khmer Rouge prior to execution.

In November, the United Nations sent a Commission of Experts to examine the evidence which the CGP has accumulated over the past four years at the Documentation Center, with a view to a possible recommendation that an international tribunal be established to judge the crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime. The commission, headed by the former governor-general of Australia, Sir Ninian Stephen, is expected to report to Secretary General Kofi Annan next month.

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