Civil Party Recounts Brutality of Khmer Rouge at January 1 Dam

Life at the January 1 dam consisted of illness, overwork and mass murder, a woman whose family was killed at the Kompong Thom province worksite told the Khmer Rouge tribunal Wednesday.

Hun Sothany, 50, who grew up in Kompong Cham province and was transferred to the worksite in Baray district as a child in 1976, explained how her father, mother and six siblings all perished at the hands of the Pol Pot regime.

The visibly distressed civil party said she was informed of the death of her father—a teacher who she overheard discussing killing his family to spare them the horrors he predicted if the communists overthrew Lon Nol—by her siblings after she had returned to their living quarters from the worksite.

“My siblings came and told me my father was killed in Baray Choan Dek pagoda. He was taken at night and never returned. I could not even weep and sob when I heard the news. I consoled my siblings and told them to return to their workplace,” Ms. Sothany said.

“I was afraid I would be accused of being psychologically sick, it was very hard for me at that time, I wanted to die in that period,” she said, adding one of her siblings perished soon after.

She said her mother and five surviving siblings were led away on oxcarts then thrown down wells.

“I did not believe they had been killed. How could they kill so many people, because it was not only my family members but many other families who were put in oxcarts and left,” Ms. Sothany said.

“About five days later I saw clothing of my siblings and I saw a bra that my mother made for my younger sister so I knew that they had gone, they had been killed.”

At the end of her testimony, the civil party asked former regime leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan—who are on trial for crimes including genocide—whether they admitted responsibility for deaths during the Democratic Kampuchea period.

“Are you responsible for the killing of human beings? How could you be responsible for persecution of killing of victims in your period? Do you recognize and admit your mistakes? Do you admit your acts in that period?” she asked. Both men exercised their right to silence.

Hearings continue Thursday.

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