Nuon Chea Celebrates Marriage of Daughter

pailin – More than 200 friends and relatives helped former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea celebrate his adopted daughter’s marriage here on Saturday.

Among the guests was Khieu Samphan, former prime minister during the Democratic Kampu­chea regime.

The two are the highest-ranking Khmer Rouge leaders still alive, and both live here near the Thai border.

Nuon Chea, also known as Brother No 2, was second in command to Pol Pot during the Khmer Rouge regime, when more than 1 million people died from overwork, disease, starvation and execution.

Nuon Chea, 77, wearing dark glasses, spoke briefly with report­ers at the ceremony.

“I am very happy to have a wedding party for my daughter,” Nuon Chea said after the wedding. “Today I have finished my duty as a father, which a parent must do for children when they grow up.”

The ceremony was a traditional affair, with elaborate costumes, three bridesmaids and five monks. Nuon Chea, who visited each table to chat with guests, said such marriages were not pos­sible during the Khmer Rouge years.

“During that time, we had just liberated the country, and the people were struggling to overcome shortages of rice and food,” he said. “We needed to save the rice and food, rather than having parties.”

He also defended the Khmer Rouge’s policy of forcing stran­g­ers to marry, saying it was the only “fair” way to ensure maimed soldiers, widows and older wo­men got a chance to marry.

“Many men were killed or han­dicapped, and many women were left alone,” he said. “If we had let them choose for themselves, the men would only have chosen beautiful girls. Yet the [older or less pretty] women had also struggled. So we had to manage for them to be married.”

Nuon Chea’s 21-year-old daughter, Nuon Chhak Nita, married Ke Sok Leata, 24. The groom is a bodyguard for Pailin Gov­ernor Y Chhien. The governor him­­self once served as a bodyguard for Ieng Sary, Brother No 3 during the Khmer Rouge re­gime, who re­mains at liberty.

Ieng Sary was invited to the wedding along with his wife, Ieng Thirith, but did not attend due to ill­ness, Nuon Chea said.

In an interview two weeks be­fore the wedding, Nuon Chea said he was upset about the UN’s withdrawal from a Khmer Rouge tri­bunal, but that he is willing to face justice in any court.

“I want to clear up suspicions and tell what the world and foreigners want to know,” he said. “The court must find the truth, and find who did these things.

“Please look at the Democratic Kam­puchea leaders, whether they are rich or just thinking about themselves…. Now I am thinking what I should do for the people before I die…. I want to help the poor in any way that I can.”

So far, he said, he has bought four sacks of corn to distribute.


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