Samphan Wanted Khmer Rouge Progeny for Defense, Tribunal Hears

Khieu Samphan delivered a speech while head of Democratic Kampuchea in which he admonished women to bear children who would defend Cambodia’s borders, a former cadre told the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.

Chea Dieb, 62, said she joined the Khmer Rouge in Kompong Cham province in 1974 and entered Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975—the day residents lined the streets of the capital cheering and waving white flags as the black-clad communists drove through after overthrowing the Khmer Republic.

Chea Dieb testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh yesterday. (ECCC)
Chea Dieb testifies at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh yesterday. (ECCC)

Ms. Dieb was testifying in Case 002 in a segment related to forced marriages. Prosecutors are attempting to prove that Khieu Samphan and the regime’s second-in-command, Nuon Chea, enacted a national policy of forcing people to marry and have sex in order to create a new generation of revolutionaries.

She said she refused two attempts at a forced marriage, but eventually agreed for fear of repercussions.

She also recounted a speech delivered by Khieu Samphan at Phnom Penh’s Wat Ounalom pagoda, in which he said that all workers within the regime’s ministries over the age of 19 should be married so as to boost the country’s defenses.

“He said that all female cadres need to work for the state and those with the age of 19…needed to be arranged to get married. We should not keep them unmarried,” Ms. Dieb said.

“He said that they should get married so that they would produce children, and when they produce children, we will have more force to defend our territory,” she said.

Marriage as a means of increasing the country’s workforce was an oft-espoused goal of the regime, reiterated during wedding ceremonies, Ms. Dieb said.

“During the marriage ceremony, the leadership also taught about such aspects, that we should love each other and we should build happiness for our marriage…and we should produce children, as many as possible, for Angkar,” she said, using the regime’s term for its hierarchy.

In the morning session, despite claiming on Monday to have witnessed the execution of 10 ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese people, Seng Soeun, the head of a district administrative office in Kandal province during the Pol Pot era, backtracked on his claim.

“Why is [it] then that you said to DC-Cam [the Documentation Center of Cambodia], and you repeated that here yesterday, that these 10 people were Chinese and Vietnamese expatriates?” asked Victor Koppe, a lawyer for Nuon Chea.

“I did not say so,” Mr. Soeun replied. “At the time that I witnessed the execution, I did not see whether they were ethnic Vietnamese or not.”

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Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly identified Seng Soeun as a former district chief in Kandal province.

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