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Civil parties recount time at dam

Two more civil party witnesses testified before the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday relating their harrowing experiences at the Trapeang Thma dam worksite.

The morning session began with survivor Sam Sok recalling his evacuation from Phnom Penh and initial assignment to a children’s work unit.

“Many children became sick from swollen disease, from malaria, and some children started to die, one after another,” Sok said.

Singled out as “capitalists and feudalists”, Sok sid he was mistreated for being a “17 April person”, the term for evacuated city dwellers.

Unable find words that captured the full extent of his suffering at the dam, Sok said that, “to give you an idea”, he joked with workers that they would die happily “if they just gave us a good last meal”.

Forced to hide his family’s education and connection to the Lon Nol regime, Sok broke into tears as he enumerated lost loved ones.

They included the family of an uncle who was a Khmer Republic colonel, his uncle who was a minister, his mother and two elder brothers.

In addition to losing his family, Sok felt particular pain in being denied education.

“We didn’t have the chance to study at all, that is the most painful thing in my life,” he said prior to concluding.

Civil Party Mean Loeuy’s testimony followed during the afternoon session starting with his former life as a monk in Battambang.

When the Khmer Rouge took over “we were urged to leave the monkhood every day”, Loeuy said adding that eventually all the monks defrocked.

Loeuy later was forced to work at the dam worksite where quotes were harshly imposed. Failure to meet a quota would result in “self criticism” and “re-education” sessions, he said, adding that repeated failure would lead to disappearance.

Married in a mass ceremony along with 63 couples, Loeuy said that “the base people could not marry new [17 April] people”.

Loeuy’s wife and in-laws were eventually killed, a pain that “after 30 years I still have not forgotten”, he said.

Not imagining survival, Loeuy recalled: “Every morning I opened eyes I knew I had lived another day.”

Prior to adjournment, Loeuy requested that co-accused Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan be locked away for life in a dark prison.

Samphan defender Kong Sam Onn, however, noted,“Putting my client . . . in a dark dungeon is not according to existing law and procedure.”

Proceedings resume today with key document hearings.

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