A transgendered female survivor of the Khmer Rouge will lodge a complaint to the UN-backed war crimes court seeking the regime’s former leaders stand trial for sexual violence.
“This is the first complaint before the (Khmer Rouge court) concerning sexual violence under the Khmer Rouge regime,” said a statement on Friday by Silke Stuzinsky, a lawyer representing civil complaints by victims of the regime.
“To date, a widespread silence and/or confusion has covered up crimes of sexual violence,” the statement said.
The complaint, to be filed next week, will seek to hold senior leaders responsible for numerous rapes the woman — who had undergone a full sex change from being a man — suffered as well as her several imprisonments in re-education camps and prisons.
“She was punished for having committed moral offences and for behaving as a woman. She was forced to cut her long hair and to wear men’s clothing (as was the custom under the Khmer Rouge),” Stuzinsky’s statement said.
“She was threatened with death if she refused to marry a woman, and the Khmer Rouge ordered the performance of sexual intercourse as part of the marital obligation,” the statement added.
Five former regime leaders have been detained by the tribunal, which was convened in 2006 after nearly a decade of haggling between the United Nations and the Cambodian government.
Up to two million people died of starvation and overwork, or were executed, as the communist Khmer Rouge dismantled modern Cambodian society in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia during their 1975-79 rule.
Public trials are expected to begin this year, but delays in the process have raised fears that the elderly defendants could die before going to court.