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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chronology of a KR chief

Chronology of a KR chief

Chronology of a KR chief

Facts about Ta Mok are sketchy. A few things about the mysterious KR leader are clear:

he's known for his cruelty and has spent 50 years fighting his "enemies".

Oung Choeun (Mok) is born in Pra Keap Village, Tram Kak district, Takeo province

to father Oung Preak, a teacher, and mother Ouk Soch.

Young Oung Choeun goes to study at the local pagoda in Pra Keap. He lives with

his grandmother, while his brothers and sisters stay at home with their parents.


Now a monk, Choeun is taken by his father to study at Wat Moha Montrey, Phnom Penh.


Choeun leaves the pagoda, and within a month marries Ouk Khem, his niece.


The couple have a baby daughter named Khom. They apparently have three more children

over the years, named Ho, Chhong and Kul.


Choeun joins the Khmer Issarak independence movement dedicated to ridding Cambodia

of the French colonialists.


Choeun is chief of the Issaraks in Kung Pisey district of Kampong Speu and the Tram

Kak district of Takeo. He is known to many as Chhit Choeun.

By 1954 Independence from the French is gained and the Issarak movement splits.

Some, like Choeun, return to civilian life but remain covert agents. Choeun returns

to the monkhood at Kat Phluk pagoda, Kampong Speu.


Choeun returns to Phnom Penh where he teaches monks, and according to academic Steven

Heder, gets an elementary level Pali school degree. At some point, he also meets

Saloth Sar (Pol Pot).

By 1960 Chouen is Secretary of Sector 13 of the Southwest (i.e. Takeo)


Choeun attends his first congress of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). Scholars

say he did not attend the famous secret party congress on Sept 30, 1960 in Phnom



Choeun (who assumes the alias Mok at some point in his KR career) is promoted to

Party Central Committee, and becomes Southwest Zone Secretary. He liberally hands

out powerful roles to members of his own family.


Mok is responsible for the logistics of the armed forces of the National United Front

of Kampuchea. He also takes on the alias "Ta 15".


According to scholar Ben Kiernan, Mok forced 3,000 monks to de-frock and join the

military, the first known example of such a CPK policy.


His forces, combined with those of Ke Pauk (North Zone) capture Oudong and massacre

the population.


Mok leads attacks around Ang Snoul and then Kambol in the run-up to the capture of

Phnom Penh.

Mok is secretary of the Southwest Zone during Democratic Kampuchea regime. Various

members of his family take up high-ranking roles, creating a virtual dynasty. His

zone becomes known as one of the most bloody, strict and vicious in the DK regime.

Mok is alleged to have gathered up more than 3,000 Hanoi-trained Khmers and ordered,

along with their wives and children, their executions.


Mok is Vice President of the People's Representative Assembly Standing Committee.


At the CPK Fifth Congress in Nov 78, Mok becomes Deputy Secretary of the Standing

Committee in charge of Rural Base Areas and Agriculture. He is also named second

Vice Chairman of the Party Central Military Commission in charge of "Military

Matters", under Chairman Pol. He is also named (first and only) Vice Chairman

of the Party Central Economic Commission, under Chairman Pol. Mok takes his parents

from Tram Kak to Takeo town. Vietnamese attacks on DK territories take the lives

of both his parents, and his two brothers Ching and Cham.


With the KR ousted, Mok moves to Sector 1003 (Siem Reap-Preah Vihear). He remains

here throughout the 1980s, fighting a guerilla war against the Vietnamese occupation.

At some point, he loses his leg to either a landmine, or, according to his sister,

to an accident with a tractor. His wife dies some years before 1992, and Mok takes

a new wife - a widow of one of his division commanders, according to KR defecors.

Takeo authorities send Mok's sister to Anlong Veng to try to persuade him to

join the Paris Peace process, started in 1991.

Son Sen is temporarily demoted, and his troops in the Northwestern zone are handed

to Mok - making him the strongest military commander.


Pol Pot blames Mok for failing to quell the insurrection in Pailin led by Ieng Sary.

Tensions between Mok and the 'intellectuals' of the KR are apparent.

Mok wishes to form a separate region in Anlong Veng simlilar to the autonomous

zone of Pailin. Son Sen is in agreement, but Pol Pot is not.


In June, Son Sen is killed on Pol Pot's orders. Mok may have believed he was next

on the list. Ta Mok overthrows Pol Pot and becomes the new brother no.1. He is interviewed

for the first time ever by Nate Thayer in Anlong Veng.


RCAF capture Ta Mok in Anlong Veng and bring him to Phnom Penh for trial.


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