Cham Tells Tribunal of Being Forced to Eat Pork

Despite food being scarce in Tram Kak district during the Pol Pot regime, the first Cham Muslim to testify in the second trial of Case 002 at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Friday explained how cadre would force her to eat pork.

Lip Neang, 51, said her unit chief would deliberately mix pork—whose consumption is forbidden under Islamic law—with rice gruel and observe her as she ate. 

“Every time they killed a pig, I was forced to eat pork, and every few days they would kill a pig,” said Ms. Neang. “I would eat rice porridge with pork and as they knew we didn’t eat pork they would make rice soup with pork on purpose,” she said. “We Cham…do not eat pork.”

Ms. Neang, who was born in Kampot province, said she lost four siblings and her mother after the family was transferred to the “model district” in Takeo province.

“I was sick and my elder brothers were sick and they were taken away and they disappeared,” she said. “They had fever and dysentery and were taken to hospital and never returned.”

The treatment of Cham Mu­s­lims during Democratic Kampuchea is central to the second phase of Case 002, with Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan both accused of committing genocide against the group.

Bun Saroeun, a civil party who also testified on Friday, told of going to the Kraing Ta Chan security center to catch one last glimpse of his father, who was a village chief under the Lon Nol regime.

“I met uncle Ron, who…said that he saw my father at Kraing Ta Chan [and] that he’d be tortured,” Mr. Saroeun said. “I didn’t know where Kraing Ta Chan was and I asked if my father [was] still alive and he [said] yes.”

“When we arrived there, I saw my father carrying water to a vegetable plot and that made me sad; I was crying, he was so thin that I could not even recognize him,” he said.

Mr. Saroeun, who was a child during the regime, said his uncle prevented him from approaching his father as the cries of prisoners emanated from the jail where more than 15,000 people are thought to have perished.

Mr. Saroeun also blamed his inability to read and write today on the regime’s contempt for education.

“We only worked…. This pains me very deeply,” Mr. Saroeun said. “My ignorance is as a result of this regime. When I was a child I was not lucky enough to be able to go to school and therefore I became ignorant, even today.”

Hearings at the tribunal will continue on April 21, following a break for the Khmer New Year.

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