The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Monday heard more testimony relating to a Khmer Rouge policy in which the children of mixed Cambodian-Vietnamese parents were to be murdered if their mother was Vietnamese but were spared if she was Khmer.
Doung Oeurn, 75, a civil party giving testimony in the current segment of the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, which focuses on the alleged genocide of ethnic Vietnamese, was married to an ethnic Vietnamese man, Chuy, when the Khmer Rouge took over her village of Po Chen Dam in Prey Veng province’s Svay Antor district. Fearing for their daughter’s safety, she decided to change the child’s Vietnamese name to a Khmer one.
“Regarding the renaming of my daughter, it was my understanding that I needed to rename her with a different name because I was afraid she would be taken away and smashed. I decided to use a different name for her,” Ms. Oeurn said.
While her daughter survived the regime, her fears regarding the Khmer Rouge’s view of ethnic Vietnamese became a reality when her husband disappeared, along with all the other Vietnamese people in her village.
“The Vietnamese would be taken away, all of them. At that time, since my child belonged to a Cambodian mother she was not taken away,” she said, explaining a policy that has been a focus of this part of the trial, during which prosecutors are attempting to prove that the Khmer Rouge sought to wipe out the Vietnamese in Cambodia along ethnic lines.
“The child was not arrested since the child was the offspring of a Cambodian mother. If the mother was ethnically Vietnamese, the child would be taken away as well.”
Asked why her husband did not return to Vietnam with his family when he had a chance to do so, Ms. Oeurn said he chose to stay with his family despite his fears.
“He said he would not go. He said that he was willing to die in Cambodia with me and my child,” she said.