Under cross-examination by the defence, former district cadre Ban Seak told the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday that he had no knowledge of any targeted persecution of the Cham ethnic minority, whose alleged genocide at the hands of the Pol Pot regime is currently being examined.
Asked by Nuon Chea defender Victor Koppe about whether he was aware of any Cham rebellions in the area surrounding Kroch Chhmar district in Kampong Cham province, Seak said, “I did not know about any rebellion before my arrival.”
Seak testified to only know of a rebellion in 1978, but “it was not initiated by the Cham people”, he said.
He also insisted, repeating testimony he gave the day before, that purges had nothing to do with race.
“The upper echelons never gave any instructions that the Khmer or Cham should be purged,” only that “CIA or KGB agents should be eliminated”, Seak said.
Even for his own relatives, if people “did not have a clean biography they were smashed”, he continued. According to Seak these guidelines motivated the purge of North Zone cadres as well as “a rebellion hatched by [Democratic Kampuchea secretary of commerce] Koy Thuon to overthrow Pol Pot”.
Seak repeated his claim that Cham “were not considered enemies”, and that Muslims and Buddhists alike were forbidden from practicing their religion.
Koppe then questioned the link to his client, whom Seak had testified was in charge of policy and “education for senior cadres”.
When pushed on what concrete instructions Chea had handed down to Seak’s district or zone, Seak said he did “not know the details”.
Khieu Samphan defender Anita Guisse later pressed Seak on how decisions were made by Chea, Pol Pot and others at the party centre, but Seak professed ignorance, and said he had “forgotten everything”.
Guisse then turned to the alleged killings of 1,000 Cham families in Trea village. Seak hewed to his prior statement saying, “I do not know about the event that you talk about.”
As for the bodies he witnessed floating in the river, Seak said he reported it at meetings and was told, “it was not a big deal” due to the “national situation”.
Seak, alias “Ho” during the regime, was then read Cham witness statements implicating a similarly named cadre in purges of Cham and overseeing a group of Cham women forced to eat pork soup.
“I did not receive instructions to purge the Cham people, not at all,” he said, adding that had such instructions been given, then they all would have been purged.
Seak also denied the soup incident, saying, “we actually killed a cow for people to eat and it had nothing to do with the pork”.