IRRC No. 910

Perspectives on memory, forgiveness and reconciliation in Cambodia’s post-Khmer Rouge society

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Transitional justice is a conspicuous feature of responses to mass atrocities. Rooted in accountability and redress for victims, transitional justice mechanisms influence and are influenced by collective memory of conflicts. This article looks at the dynamics between memory, trauma and forgiveness in Cambodia. Thirty years after the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodians expressed limited knowledge of the past, a strong desire for the truth, and lingering feelings of hatred. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) created or renewed demand for truth, along with some desire for harm to come to the wrongdoers. Although the ECCC was set up several decades after the mass atrocities, the data suggest that the ECCC and the civil society movement associated with it may have had positive outcomes on addressing the legacy of the violence.

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