Civil Party Tells KRT of Surviving Slaughter

The Cambodia Daily | December 8 2015 | George White

A civil party testifying at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday described narrowly surviving while his relatives were brutally murdered as part of the regime’s purge of ethnic Vietnamese.

Choeung Yaing Chaet, 52, was giving testimony in the phase of Case 002/02 dealing with the re­gime’s treatment of Vietnamese living in Cambodia.

Mr. Yaing Chaet said he was forced to flee his home in Kompong Leng district to a village near the provincial capital in 1975 after a group led by a local cadre named Ta Peang threatened to kill all the ethnic Vietnamese in the area.

“They mistreated us and said if we remained living there every one of us would be killed. For that we were afraid and everyone fled to Kompong Chhnang [town],” he said.

After a month there working as a fisherman, he and his family were evacuated back to Kom­pong Leng. About a month after that, he said, the whole family was targeted for death.

One day at about 8 a.m., Mr. Yaing Chaet said, eight armed Khmer Rouge soldiers detained his family outside their house, tied them up and marched them into a nearby forest.

“They walked us from the house to the forest. The distance was a bit over 1 km and we were stopped about 100 meters from the pit,” he said.

Mr. Yaing Chaet said his mother, father and four siblings were then taken out of sight and killed, after which he was marched to the pit and ordered to kneel in front of their corpses.

“Each of us was taken there and killed. They would kill and untie and push the person into the pit. And when it was my turn I was or­dered to kneel down, and then they felt my neck and then they used an ax to hit my neck three times,” he said. “I saw the dead bodies of my father, my mother and my siblings and I was the last one to be killed and dropped into the pit.”

But at about 4 p.m. the same day, he said, he regained consciousness, climbed out of the grave and found his way to a floating village, where he recuperated.

After that, he ended up in Phnom Penh in another roundup of Vietnamese. Once in the capital, Mr. Yaing Chaet said, he was put on a ferry to Prey Veng province, where he and other ethnic Viet­namese were handed over to Viet­namese officials in exchange for rice and salt. He said he did not re­turn to Cambodia until 1982, three years after the Vietnamese invaded and pushed the Khmer Rouge out of power.

Victim recalls family’s murder in KRT testimony

The Phnom Penh Post | Tuesday, 8 December 2015 | Zoe Holman

Civil party Choeng Yang Chat sits before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan yesterday in Phnom Penh. ECCC

Civil party Choeng Yang Chat sits before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan yesterday in Phnom Penh. ECCC

The lone survivor of the execution of a Vietnamese family recounted his experiences at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday as parties continued to probe the treatment of the ethnic minority under the Democratic Kampuchea regime.

Civil party Choeng Yang Chat testified about events in Kampong Chhnang province where his family, who were ethnically Vietnamese, fled to after hearing that anyone who stayed in his home village would be killed.

However, his and some 1,000 other families of Khmer and Vietnamese descent were again forcibly relocated by cadres to Tal village, where the 13-year-old was put to work clearing land.

“No one ever thought” they would all be killed, he explained, in response to questions from civil party co-lawyer, Lima Nguyen. “If we had, we would have run off into the forest, even to be eaten by a tiger. But we simply didn’t anticipate it.”

Chat recalled the morning, about a month after their arrival, when eight cadres wearing black arrived at his family home wielding shotguns, grenades and an axe, and tied up his parents and siblings one-by-one with a cattle rope. They were then marched to a pit in the forest, where he watched as each member was shot and tossed in before he himself was finally ordered to kneel.

“They used an axe to hit my neck three times. They presumed I was dead, so they untied me…and left,” he said. “Inside the pit, I could only see four of my family because bodies were stacked on top of one another.”

After regaining consciousness, he managed to climb out of the pit and walked for several days before arriving at a floating village where he was taken in by a Vietnamese family.

He was later smuggled onto a boat with the family, made his way to Phnom Penh and boarded a ferry of ethnic-Vietnamese to the border to be exchanged for salt and rice in what he described as a barter with Hanoi authorities.

However, Nuon Chea defender Victor Koppe cast doubt on this description of the transaction. Instead, he claimed that “to suggest that lives were saved because there was a need for rice and salt has no basis in the political context of August 1975”, when he deemed relations between Cambodia and Vietnam “cordial”.

Chat was unable to confirm for parties whether the execution and transfer of families like his was part of a deliberate policy targeting Vietnamese by the regime.

When asked what he thought cadres motives were in murdering his family at that time, he told Nguyen, “frankly speaking, I did not think of anything. I was just reborn. I just walked day and night.”

“Were you a cadre yourself?” – Defense Counsel Confronts Civil Party

Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, December 3 2015 by Leonie Kijewski, LLM (Maastricht)

Today, December 03 2015, Civil Party Prak Doeun concluded his testimony. He gave more details about the killing of his family. Nuon Chea Defense Counsel tried to find out whether Mr. Doeun had been forced to kill his wife and was therefore not telling the truth, and whether Mr. Doeun had in fact be a cadre on the island he was stationed on. Next, witness Sao Sak provided her testimony and told the Court how her mother, who was of Vietnamese descent, was arrested and killed.

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ECCC Hears More About Vietnamese Treatment

The Cambodia Daily, December 4 2015, by 

The Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday finished hearing testimony from civil party Prak Doeun, 73, who had told the court on Wednesday how a group of ethnically Vietnamese women and children, including his own wife and son, had been brutally killed by the regime.

Under questioning from lawyers for defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan—who are facing charges of genocide against ethnic Vietnamese between 1975 and 1979—Mr. Doeun stuck to his version of events, deflecting attempts to portray him as being more than a simple fisherman under the Khmer Rouge.

Asked why he had been entrusted as the chief of his village’s fishing group in Kompong Chhnang province’s Boribor district, he maintained that he was a talented leader and could motivate villagers to work hard.

“I was good at speaking, particularly at mobilizing people at meetings,” he said.

It was this skill that led to him being asked to speak at a forced marriage ceremony for 25 couples, he said, rather than any affiliation with the Khmer Rouge.

“I was simply an ordinary person,” Mr. Doeun said.

In response to questions from Nuon Chea’s lawyer Victor Koppe about whether he might have actually killed his wife himself under orders, Mr. Doeun insisted that this was not the case.

“No one was forced to kill their Vietnamese husband or wife. It was the Khmer Rouge clique who killed them,” he said.

In the afternoon, the court swore in a new witness, Sao Sak, 62, from Prey Veng province. She told the court how, over the course of the Khmer Rouge regime, Vietnamese people were gradually “sorted out” of the population, including her own half-Vietnamese mother, who was summoned to a meeting with Khmer Rouge cadres from which she never returned.

“Anyone who was related to Vietnamese origin would be taken away and killed,” she said.

The questioning of Ms. Sak is scheduled to continue on Monday.

Marriages, executions described at tribunal

A civil party and a witness described the Khmer Rouge’s institution of forced marriages and the disappearances of ethnic Vietnamese, respectively, in testimony at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.

Nuon Chea defender Victor Koppe questioned civil party Prak Doeun about his attendance at a forced marriage ceremony following the execution of his ethnically Vietnamese wife, mother-in-law and son.

“I was at the marriage ceremony; I was asked to make a speech for those couples that were arranged to get married by Angkar,” he said, using the name by which the Khmer Rouge referred to itself.

The fact that he had been given such a task, however, led Koppe to question whether he had become a cadre of some importance, which Doeun denied.

He also clarified that he had not been married at the ceremony himself, and that his re-marriage to a widow in 1979 after the country’s liberation was necessary to provide his two surviving daughters a home.

Later, the Khieu Samphan defence team thoroughly questioned Doeun on who carried out the executions of his family.

Though he was unsure, Doeun said, “it was a rumour that wherever there were killings, Comrade Bun would be there to perform the duty”.

Doeun concluded with a tearful statement, as the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization officer on staff comforted him.

“I almost became crazy for the suffering that I’ve received,” he said.

Witness Sao Sak then testified on the treatment of Vietnamese following the Khmer Rouge takeover of her village of Anlong Treah in Prey Veng’s Kampong Leav district.

“Anyone who was related to Vietnamese origins would be taken away and killed.”

When Sak learned from a militiaman that her “half-blood Vietnamese” mother would be taken, she asked to collect her daughter, who was in her care, allowing for a final goodbye.

“She consoled me that ‘do not think of her’ since she was getting old, and at that time I realised she would be taken away and killed, and a few minutes later, I took my daughter back home.”

Sak herself was later detained temporarily, although she did not know why.

Many people of Vietnamese heritage “were taken about the [same] time”, she said, and never seen again.