The captain of a ship in Meas Muth’s Khmer Rouge naval division told the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Tuesday that the Gulf of Thailand had been a “hot battlefield” and that the Pol Pot regime encouraged soldiers to “smash” 30 Vietnamese troops each.
Prum Sarat, who served under the Division 164 commander—who has been charged with crimes including genocide in the tribunal’s Case 003—was appearing in the current segment related to the alleged genocide of ethnic Vietnamese in Democratic Kampuchea.
Asked to describe groups targeted by the regime, the witness put them in two categories: internal enemies in Cambodia, and its external enemy to the east.
“The conflict on the borders between Vietnam and Cambodia between 1975 and 1977 was the hot matter,” Mr. Sarat said.
“Two targeted groups of people were considered enemies of Democratic Kampuchea. One was the Vietnamese troops, who were trying to attack and capture the territorial seas of Cambodia including the islands. And as for the internal enemies, they were those who instilled the contradiction within Kampuchea,” he said.
Despite identifying the Vietnamese as the regime’s ultimate external enemy, the witness claimed that Vietnamese refugees passing through Cambodian waters “were not considered the enemies of Democratic Kampuchea” and were spared. (His testimony contradicted that of a former Khmer Rouge soldier who told the court last month that thousands of Vietnamese and Thai civilians were apprehended and killed after being captured at sea on the orders of Meas Muth.)
The witness was then questioned by the prosecution—which is attempting to prove that Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea sought to systematically wipe out the Vietnamese in Cambodia—over a speech delivered by Pol Pot in 1978 in which he called upon each Cambodian to “defeat 30 Vietnamese at all costs.”
Mr. Sarat, who now lives in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Samlot district, Battambang province, insisted that the policy was directed at Vietnamese soldiers, not civilians, before embarking on a tirade against Cambodia’s neighbor.
“There was a clear policy and strict guidelines for cadres to understand, but I would like to make a clear point that one of our soldiers needed to smash 30 Vietnamese soldiers who committed the aggression against the country. This was the guidelines made mention by comrade Pol Pot in the Revolutionary Flag,” he said, referring to the Khmer Rouge magazine.
“I had the same understanding of comrade secretary [Pol Pot]. Champa was swallowed by Yuon, Kampuchea Krom…was swallowed by Yuon, so there was a plan to swallow the country of Kampuchea as well. As of now, this is still the case,” he continued.
“I am one of the Cambodian citizens and I am still having the idea and understanding there is still an ambition to swallow this country.”