U.N. must try Burmese leaders for genocide

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Almost 30 years ago, my editor dispatched me to Cambodia to cover the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime and the resulting refugee holocaust. The images of babies with swollen bellies and only a few days left to live, emaciated and lethargic adults dying from typhoid, cholera or worse have hung with me to this day.

Now, three decades later, the United Nations and the Cambodian government are staging a genocide tribunal for several surviving Khmer Rouge leaders. Nearly 2 million Cambodians died during the Khmer Rouge reign – most of them from disease and starvation.

One country away, in Burma, more than 1 million survivors of Cyclone Nargis have now gone without food, medicine, clean water or sanitation services for more than four weeks. Though Burma’s military dictators won’t allow anyone to see, babies’ bellies are beginning to swell, and listless adults are slipping away, victims of cholera, dysentery or worse. Tens of thousands are likely to die – most of them from disease and starvation. Continue reading