Tribunal Witness Tells of Targeted Killing by Khmer Rouge

A witness at the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Thursday told the court of the regime’s practice of killing off members of hated and feared groups, including teachers, capitalists and Vietnamese.

Aek Hoeun, who told the court that he performed only menial tasks while working at the regime’s Tram Kak district office alongside his cousin Ta Chim, who testified last month, said intellectuals and members of the Lon Nol regime were targeted for killing both before and after the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975.

“For those who were…accused of [being] enemies before the liberation of the country, [the Khmer Rouge] practiced the notion of killing all the capitalists or reactionaries and they had to kill them all, wherever they were, at all levels,” said Mr. Hoeun, adding that the policy continued after Pol Pot’s forces overthrew the Khmer Republic.

He said those targeted also included teachers and members of the former regime who were “crushed by the wheel of history.”

The witness said the phrase was coined by district chief Yeay Khom, the daughter of southwest zone commander Ta Mok and wife of Meas Muth, the Khmer Rouge navy chief who was recently charged in the tribunal’s pending Case 003.

There were also mass purges of Vietnamese nationals on the orders of Yeay Khom and fellow district chief Ta Chhay, Mr. Hoeun claimed, adding that he was unsure whether the orders had come from the party’s upper echelons.

“First the instructions to the commune chiefs was to gather those Vietnamese and then they would be [taken] out,” said Mr. Hoeun.

“Three days later a truck…was sent to pick those Vietnamese up from the various communes…so six communes sent those Vietnamese away in the trucks. The Vietnamese were taken away and killed in the forest,” he said.

Mixed Cambodian-Vietnamese families, including children, were not spared.

“None of them survived; the entire family members were executed including the children or the unborn child,” Mr. Hoeun said.

He said the disappearances bred fear in the people of Tram Kak, even high-ranking cadre.

“For everyone, the district heads, the commune chiefs, the village chiefs, even they were afraid. Everyone shivered because there were so many arrests,” he said.

Mr. Hoeun’s testimony continues Friday.

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