Tribunal -Death Threats Over Forced Marriage

A civil party told the Khmer Rouge tribunal Wednesday how she was told she risked being killed if she turned down a forced marriage during the Democratic Kampuchea period.

Chum Samoeun, who was born in 1960 and joined the revolution aged 13, said she was sent to the Kompong Chhnang airport construction site in 1976 after her superiors discovered her father was an official in the Lon Nol regime. In late 1978, months before the Khmer Rouge was overthrown by Vietnam­ese forces, Ms. Samoeun recounted being forced to marry a stranger at a ceremony involving five couples.

“I didn’t know the prospective husband at all. We were asked to sit on one side while the men were asked to sit on another row opposite us,” she said.

Ms. Samoeun said she initially rejected the Khmer Rouge-sanctioned proposal but received a clear threat from a local cadre on the consequences of going against the party line.

“When I was forced to get married, I refused and I was threatened that if I was not to do so I would never date a man throughout my life. If I was caught smiling at a man I would risk being killed,” she recounted.

Ms. Samoeun said soldiers would spy on newlyweds to ensure they consummated their marriage, a recurring allegation in the second phase of Case 002.

“After the marriage, we were asked to go to our sleeping quarters…my whole body was trembling and I was very afraid and I told him please don’t do anything to me and the man didn’t do anything to me…I was fortunate enough for that,” she said.

“I heard footsteps outside the room and I began to tremble again,” she added.

On Wednesday, the civil party posed questions to the defendants—Pol Pot’s former second-in-command, Nuon Chea, and former head of state Khieu Samphan—who are on trial for crimes including genocide.

“I’d like to ask the accused that now you have been found guilty of all those charges by this court, are you ready to face those charges and do you have the honor to live on this earth or do you wish to go to hell and live there?”

They did not respond.

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