Khmer Rouge Victims Recount Suffering of Cham, Vietnamese

Khmer Rouge victims participating in the trial of senior regime leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were given the opportunity to make statements before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Monday, telling the court how the regime’s policies had affected their lives.

The victims were among 3,866 Cambodians participating as civil parties in the trial. In order to attain civil party status and ultimately be granted reparations, victims need to show that they personally suffered harm from a crime being prosecuted by the tribunal.

As the current phase of the trial deals with alleged genocide against Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese, among other crimes, civil parties on Monday told of how they suffered after being targeted based on their ethnic and religious identities.

“My father died because he was a Cham person who adhered to his religious practice,” recalled Moeu Pov, who said he had been about 13 years old in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took over the country.

“Angkar gave him a final warning: that he had to eat pork, and if he could not then he would starve.” In the end, his father refused to eat the meat and starved to death, Mr. Pov said.

Mr. Pov also described seeing a woman murdered over a “moral offense” at a detention facility.

“She was ordered to take off her clothes and her body was cut open,” he said. “The liver was taken out of the body and cooked for a meal.”

Sieng Chanthay recalled being forcibly relocated from Phnom Penh to Svay Rieng province’s Svay Rieng district with her family when they were targeted due to their Vietnamese heritage.

“They accused us of being feudalist capitalists and Vietnamese half-bloods,” she said.

Ms. Chanthay said her father eventually took his own life for fear that his existence would jeopardize his family’s safety.

“My father looked really Vietnamese. He had a fair complexion, so he was terrified,” she said, adding that her father hung himself shortly thereafter, and that a Khmer Rouge cadre had his body dragged through the streets.

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