Chum Mey Returns to KR Tribunal as S-21 Segment Commences

Chum Mey, one of only a handful of known survivors of Phnom Penh’s S-21 security center, returned to the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Monday to recount his story of survival at the notorious prison.

Mr. Mey testified in 2009 as part the court’s Case 001, in which S-21 chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, was found guilty of crimes against humanity the following year.

Chum Mey testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh on Monday. (ECCC)
Chum Mey testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh on Monday. (ECCC)

On Monday, Mr. Mey was returned to the courtroom as the first person to testify in a new segment relating to the security center in the second phase of Case 002, in which Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are on trial for crimes including genocide.

Mr. Mey, who sells his memoir “Survivor” inside the prison grounds, now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, told of being tortured for 12 days and 12 nights upon arriving at the security center, including being electrocuted until he passed out and having his toenails ripped out.

He added that inmates were forced to lick excrement from the floor if they missed the pot in their cell.

“The defecation that spills onto the floor, we were required to lick with our tongue until the floor became clean,” Mr. Mey said.

“At that time, I was considered a traitor. I was regarded as an animal in terms of my right to speak and my right to eat,” he added.

Asked by the prosecution about the effects of spending most days selling his book inside the prison grounds, Mr. Mey—who claims he was kept alive by the guards due to his ability to fix typewriters—said he was still reeling from the horrors of the Khmer Rouge era.

“I never forgot what I have lost. Almost 3 million Cambodians died because of [the] Pol Pot regime. No one can forget that experience. I cannot forget what happen to the people of Cambodia,” he said.

“No country, no nation in the world kill their own people…. Now I am selling books, I am telling the story to tourists. I consider myself as a psychotic person, and sometimes I spend time crying,” he said.

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