A former messenger for the Pol Pot regime told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday that the core principles of the ultracommunists were “amazingly good,” but that a lack of cohesion in the regime’s ranks meant they were not properly implemented.
The witness, who remained loyal to the movement until its collapse in 1998 and was identified only as 2-TWC-1005 because he is involved in ongoing tribunal investigations, spoke in gushing terms about the regime’s “12 Revolutionary Principles.”
“Even a chili was not allowed to be picked up by cadres, or anyone, so the content, the messages in those principles…were so good,” said the witness, who was testifying in relation to internal purges in Case 002, in which the regime’s second-in-command, Nuon Chea, and head of state, Khieu Samphan, are on trial for crimes including genocide.
“Again, the principles were so good, [they] were so amazingly good,” he added.
Despite his adulation for the core principles of the movement, the witness—who was transferred to Kratie province from Takeo in 1977—claimed they were not fully adhered to within the ranks of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK).
“The principles were applied differently in different locations. It was not consistent with the good principles or good virtues, as well as ethics, that we were asked to adhere to,” he said.
“The CPK wanted to build a country—wanted to be independent and to have mastery on its own—and when one became powerful he or she forgot everything,” he said.
The witness described a meeting with Meas Muth, who briefly served as a representative of the military general staff in Kratie, after leaders from Division 117 were sent to Phnom Penh and never seen again after being accused of treachery.
“There [was] a meeting held among all of us, 70 of us, and we were told that our leaders were considered traitors,” the witness said.
“What I can recall is that [Meas Muth] made mention that my group did not fight hard enough [against] the Yuon and allowed the Yuon to come in,” he said, using a term for the Vietnamese some consider pejorative.
However, the witness said the group felt inspired after being summoned by the powerful commander, who has been charged with crimes including genocide in the tribunal’s Case 003.
“After hearing the message mentioned by him we felt hatred in our hearts, and we were striving to fight against the Yuon harder,” he said.
The witness was later questioned on whether Southwest Zone secretary Ta Mok—whom he claimed on Tuesday was “loved” by the people—was ever referred to as “The Butcher,” a nickname commonly used for the powerful commander.
“He was not a killer or executioner. I would like to deny such an accusation…. However, I do not know what his subordinates were doing at [their] respective districts,” he said.