Cambodia’s Anti-Vietnam Obsession

Forced marriages- Seven couples decide to renew their vows

Youth for Peace (YFP) organized for the second time a remarriage ceremony for seven couples who were forced to be married under the Khmer Rouge. Last year, a ceremony for five couples was held.

‘Only ‘Lovers’ left alive- Forced to marry under a genocidal regime-Seven couples decide to renew their vows’ by Dene-Hern Chen, Al Jazeera

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.”

Genocide Charges Delivered to Muth

Phnom Penh Post | Tuesday, 15 December 2015 | Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Meas Muth, a former navy chief of the Khmer Rouge, smokes a cigarette at his house in Battambang province earlier this year. Muth was charged with genocide yesterday by Khmer Rouge tribunal judge Michael Bohlander. Photo by: Vireak Mai

Meas Muth, a former navy chief of the Khmer Rouge, smokes a cigarette at his house in Battambang province earlier this year. Muth was charged with genocide yesterday by Khmer Rouge tribunal judge Michael Bohlander. Photo by: Vireak Mai

Case 003 suspect Meas Muth was charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Convention and homicide yesterday morning by Khmer Rouge tribunal international co-investigating judge Michael Bohlander in Battambang town.

Muth had already been charged in absentia in March by former international co-investigating judge Mark Harmon, and though a court spokesman declined yesterday to comment on specific changes to the charges, some differences were evident from the court’s statements.

Notably, yesterday’s charge of genocide had been absent from the previous set. However, Bohlander’s charges appear to exclude the grave breaches of the Geneva Convention of “wilful deprivation of a prisoner of war or civilian’s right to fair and regular trials” and “unlawful deportation or transfer”, both of which had been included in Harmon’s decision.

Court spokesman Lars Olsen declined to comment on the details of the changes to the accusations or why they were made, saying the matter was “confidential by law”. Olsen also said “no investigative requests [by the defence] have been made public”.

Bohlander yesterday travelled to Battambang to read Muth the charges, which also include the grave breaches of “wilful killing”, “wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health”, torture and “unlawful confinement of civilians”.

He also accuses Muth of crimes against humanity, murder, extermination, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, persecution and inhumane acts – including inhumane treatment, forced labour, forced marriage and attacks on human dignity due to conditions of detention.

According to a statement from Bohlander’s office, the crimes were committed at “various security centres”, including S-21 and Wat Enta Nhien, as well as at the Stung Hav worksite and worksites at the Ream area cooperative, and in present-day Preah Sihanouk province.

The statement also says Muth is accused of crimes committed “by the Navy of Democratic Kampuchea in and around the islands claimed by Democratic Kampuchea”, and crimes committed “against members of Division 164, 502, 117, and 310”.

Yesterday’s charges invalidated Harmon’s, along with two orders the former judge had issued to bring Muth to Phnom Penh to hear the charges against him.

The orders had generated controversy when Cambodian authorities declined to act on either, which observers took to be evidence of government interference given its longstanding opposition to cases 003 and 004.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge cadre himself, had previously warned that cases 003 and 004 going to trial could spark civil war.

In an email yesterday, Muth’s international defence lawyer Michael Karnavas said his team has had access to the case file since March.

“Mr Meas Muth has been cooperating all along. It is nonsense to report otherwise,” Karnavas said, explaining why Muth had voluntarily appeared to hear the charges.

“He did not recognise Harmon’s summons since he was acting unilaterally and to our knowledge without the consent or approval or support of the national co-investigating judge.

We were also of the opinion that Harmon was acting as a prosecutor and not as a fair and objective investigating judge.”

However, as with Harmon’s charges, the statement from judge Bohlander appeared to be issued without the participation of his national counterpart, You Buleng.

The fresh charges against Muth come just days after Case 004 suspect Yim Tith was charged, also in a unilateral decision by Bohlander.