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Statement on the Death of Pol Pot

April 16, 1998

The death of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot has again brought to international attention one of the most tragic chapters of inhumanity in the twentieth century. Between 1975 and 1979, Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge followers transformed Cambodia into the killing fields, causing the death of an estimated 2 million of their countrymen in a brutal attempt to transform Cambodian society.

Although the opportunity to hold Pol Pot accountable for his monstrous crimes appears to have passed, senior Khmer Rouge, who exercised leadership from 1975 to 1979, are still at large and share responsibility for the monstrous human rights abuses committed during this period. We must not permit the death of the most notorious of the Khmer Rouge leaders to deter us from the equally important task of bringing these others to justice. And equally, we must renew our determination to prevent such atrocities from occurring in the future.

Now is a time to remember the victims of Pol Pot's murderous reign of terror and to underscore our determination to help the Cambodian people achieve a lasting peace based on respect for basic human rights and democratic principles.

William J. Clinton, Statement on the Death of Pol Pot Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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