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Survivors of genocide seek reparations in court

More than 30 years after suffering unspeakable tragedies at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, Sophany Bay, a survivor of the Cambodian genocide who now lives in San Jose, is finally getting the opportunity to see justice done. The Cambodian-Americans are being legally represented in the trial and might provide testimony.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Sunday that Bay and her husband, along with a handful of other survivors of the genocide who escaped to the Bay Area decades ago, will be in the court gallery today in Phnom Penh for the opening arguments in the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders charged with crimes against humanity.

Bay, whose three young children died during the genocide, has worked as a mental health counselor treating those like herself from Cambodia who suffered PTSD. I featured Bay in an article about mental health workers, some of those at Stanford, who are helping these survivors deal with the trauma of living through such atrocities.

Daryn Reicherter, MD, a psychiatrist at Stanford who works with these immigrants, talks in the Mercury News article about the difficulty for these survivors to re-open old wounds, many who have continued to suffer nightmares, anxiety, withdrawal and other symptoms for decades. For some, like Sophany, the trial may be healing:

A good number of Cambodian-Americans choose not to pay attention (to the tribunal). They don't want to reopen memories. And there are people who are totally involved and really hang on it and get updates from Cambodian news sources. I rarely get a perspective from someone who is in between.

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