Testimony on the alleged genocide of ethnic Vietnamese during the Khmer Rouge regime began at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia Tuesday, with a witness recounting a massacre of Vietnamese adults and children at a pagoda in Siem Reap province in 1978.
Sien Sung, 55, who was based in Chi Kreng district during the regime, described seeing ethnic Vietnamese being killed and thrown into pits at the Wat Khsach pagoda as he returned home from a rice field one evening.
“At that time I was walking back from my mobile unit and it was about 200 meters away. I was on a road next to the pagoda. I heard the voices from the pagoda, so I actually had a secret look at what was happening inside the pagoda,” Mr. Sung said.
Although it was dark, a kerosene lantern illuminated 10 to 12 Khmer Rouge soldiers drinking alcohol and systematically killing people who admitted to being ethnic Vietnamese, the witness said.
“The victims were interviewed [about] whether they were Chinese or Vietnamese,” Mr. Sung said. “For those who said they were Vietnamese, they were killed at the pit,” he said.
Mr. Sung said he hid for about an hour while watching adults being beaten to death with bamboo poles and children thrown into pits.
“After the children arrived at the killing site, some…were thrown up into the air and when they fell down into the pit they fainted and collapsed and perhaps they died afterward,” he said.
Though anyone who admitted to being Vietnamese was killed, a small number of Chinese people were released and sent back to their villages on an oxcart, he said.
Mr. Sung is the first witness to testify regarding the treatment of ethnic Vietnamese in the second phase of Case 002—in which Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan are being tried for a slew of crimes, including the genocide of ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims. The prosecution is seeking to prove that the Vietnamese were specifically targeted with the intent to wipe out the ethnic group in Cambodia.
Mr. Sung will continue his testimony today.