Cambodia: in advance of Khmer Rouge trial, a new book detailing Cham women's experiences under the regime

As four former Khmer Rouge leaders prepare to stand trial at an international tribunal for charges including genocide, a new book sheds light on a minority community targeted by the regime during it's bloody rule between 1975 and 1979.

In “The Hijab of Cambodia: Memory of Cham Muslim Women after the Khmer Rouge”, author Farina So examines Cham Muslim women’s experiences under the Khmer Rouge and uncovers stories of survival and resistance. Khmer Rouge genocidal policies ruptured ethnic and religious identities and resulted in the disproportionate killing of the Cham group. Guided by their desire to preserve their families and their cultural identity, Cham women sometimes complied with Khmer Rouge policies, and sometimes secretly resisted.

The book was published by the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), an organization dedicated to uncovering and recording the history of the secretive Khmer Rouge regime. So has worked with DC-Cam since 2003 and is currently team leader of its Cham Oral History project, which records the Cham Muslim community’s memories of the Khmer Rouge era. The book is based on her work with DC-Cam as well as the thesis she wrote to obtain a master’s degree from Ohio University, where she studied international affairs with a concentration in Southeast Asian studies.

The UN-backed tribunal in Cambodia’s capital is scheduled to begin the trial of four senior Khmer Rouge leaders on July 27. They face a host of charges stemming from their alleged roles in a regime that killed about one quarter of Cambodia’s population during the four years it held power. Many of the approximately 2 million victims of the Khmer Rouge were executed, while other were worked to death or died of starvation and disease. Prosecutors successfully argued that the suspects should be charged with genocide because the regime targeted the Cham in particular due to their religious beliefs, as well as Cambodia’s minority Vietnamese community.

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Date: 31/05/2011




Culture and Tradition
Racism/Discrimination/Hate speech
Religion/Religious minorities

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