Witness Tells KRT of Ethnic Vietnamese Disappearances

A witness told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday that an ethnic Vietnamese woman and her children disappeared from his village in Prey Veng province, and he had been told by his neighbors that they were targeted for their ethnicity.

Thang Pal, who was 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, said that ethnic Vietnamese disappeared from his village in Prey Veng district’s Svay Antor commune.

While the children of ethnic Vietnamese fathers were spared, Mr. Pal said that the children of an ethnic Vietnamese woman in his village disappeared with their mother. Despite claiming to be unclear on the whether the group was targeted due to their ethnicity, Mr. Pal said he heard this theory from other villagers.

“I don’t know the reason why the wife and children were taken away, however I heard people saying that if the mother was Vietnamese then the children would be taken away as well, however if the father was Vietnamese or the mother was Khmer then the children would not be taken away,” Mr. Pal said.

The witness, who worked in rice fields during the Democratic Kam­puchea regime, explained how the small number of ethnic Vietnam­ese in Po Chen Dam village vanished around late 1976 and early 1977 and never returned.

“[Villagers] whispered that those people had been taken away for re-education but in fact we knew that they were taken away to be executed,” he said.

Mr. Phal said the victims were two men, named Ngang and Chuy, and the wife and children of a Cambodian called Lach Ny—who later suffered psychological problems after losing his family.

“At that time Lach Ny was not arrested, however he became psychotic or crazy and he went around crying and shouting because his wife and children had been taken away,” Mr. Phal said, adding that he later recovered upon receiving support from local villagers.

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