Enemies Needed to Be ‘Cleansed,’ Tribunal Hears

During a political study session in the mid-1970s, Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea identified state security forces, foreign spies and the Vietnamese as party enemies who needed to be “cleansed,” a witness told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday.

Testifying against the pair for a second time, Sar Sarin, who was assigned in 1975 to be a driver for high-level officers in Phnom Penh, recounted a study session the two led in 1976 or 1977.

Previously questioned about the same meeting at a 2013 hearing in Case 001, he had expressed fear that he was putting his safety at risk by testifying, saying “the Khmer Rouge are not happy their leaders are on trial.”

Mr. Sarin was excused at the time after the court said it could not grant his request to be provided with four protection officers “from today until the day I die.”

On Tuesday, however, when pressed by lawyer Ven Pov as part of a segment on Khmer Rouge leadership in Case 002, Mr. Sarin readily told the court of the leaders’ willingness to “smash” their opponents.

He said second-in-command Nuon Chea told attendees that their enemies included “traitors” within the party ranks and external forces, who “had to be smashed and cleansed.”

“While he was talking, he was facing to the north and there was a slogan hanging there, about the smashing of American spies, CIA, KGB, as well as the land-swallowing enemies and the infiltrated enemy,” he said.

State security forces including police officers and military personnel, as well as officials from the Lon Nol regime, were also targeted by the regime as “they had to be cleansed,” Mr. Sarin said.

Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, on the other hand, trumpeted the party’s eviction of Vietnamese people living in Cambodia as a victory, Mr. Sarin said.

“He said our party was a clever one—our party had evacuated Vietnamese out of Mekong, Tonle Sap and rubber plantation areas to their own country,” he said.

“Moreover, he says yuon enemy were very clever in breeding their own people, and yuon were encouraging their own people to marry Kampuchean people, historically, and he said that we had to smash, sweep, clean all yuon,” he said, using a derogatory Khmer term for Vietnamese people.

Khieu Samphan asked students to commit to defending Cambodia’s borders in order to “build” the country, because it was being “swallowed” by the Vietnamese, Mr. Sarin added.

His testimony is scheduled to continue today.


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