‘Catch Up With History’ or Perish, Witness Recalls

Workers at Kompong Chhnang Airport during the Pol Pot regime were told they risked losing their lives if “they could not catch up with history,” a witness told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday.

Nuon Trech, who worked as a medic during a stint with the Khmer Rouge, said he was sent to the airport worksite for three months in 1978 for “refashioning” after his division was accused of being traitors to the revolution.

The worksite was the focus of an earlier segment of the current trial, in which the regime’s second-in-command Nuon Chea and head of state Khieu Samphan are being tried for crimes including genocide.

“They said that we were traitors…and if we could not refashion ourselves then we might die,” Mr. Trech said.

“The chief was a person from the southwest who…said that we were the offenders and that we had to strive to work hard to refashion ourselves, and if we could not catch up with history then we might be punished further.”

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