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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ke Pauk: "This document is fiction and has no clear base"

Ke Pauk: "This document is fiction and has no clear base"

Post: In his 1977 confession, Cho Chhan alias Sreng, who was your deputy before he was purged, explained how the local authorities were making lists of names to pass on to you to decide who had to be arrested or killed?

Pauk: No, I never heard a story like this. No, I don't know about this. You ask me about this, but it is not true. Since 1975, I never heard a story like this. I had no right to decide. I ask you back, where is Chhan now? He was killed? If he was killed this is a ghost's confession. I don't know Cho Chhan alias Sreng.

Post: So who was your deputy during that time?

Pauk: Er.....I, I.... had no power.

Post: The report says that Cho Chhan alias Sreng was your deputy. Do you deny the report?

Pauk: Er... Yes, I know Sreng but I don't know Cho Chhan.

Post: As head of the North/Central committee zone, did you know about the more than 100 cadre from your zone who were arrested, sent to S-21 and then were executed?

Pauk: Those people were [identified] by the top leaders and [their names were] sent to me. They called those people to get education and then they disappeared. I tell you if no cadre had been sent from all the zones, how could the number of Tuol Sleng prisoners be tens of thousands like this? So every zone had to send the people who were [identified] by the top leaders as 'traitors'. I don't want to talk about this you can go to ask [former S-21 chief] Duch, who organized and made the letters and sent them to the zones. The people at the low level just carried out the orders. Enemy or not enemy: it depended on the top leaders.

Post: Did you know what are the activities that led them to be accused of being traitors?

Pauk: I don't know. Right or wrong, I don't know. The top leaders decided who was an enemy and who was not. The zone levels did not dare to argue. Duch was the letter writer.

Post: In 1977, according to Tuol Sleng documentation, more than 100 cadre from your zone were detained and executed there. How could you have ignored this?

Pauk: I don't understand about this.

Post: What do you have to say about more than 100 cadre sent to S-21 from your zone?

Pauk: If you research this story, it is like as if you want to open the healed wound and make the bloodshed again. We already noted that Pol Pot was the decision maker. So why are you digging up the confessions of the people who were the enemy to make trouble to the people who came to make peace in the country? It cannot be solved. Think about it, Pol Pot was the leader and he decided which cadre had to be sent for re-education.

Post: You say Pol Pot decided everything. Are you sure that the reports about the traitors were not made by the lower ranks or the grassroots?

Pauk: Yes, Pol Pot was the top leader. Nobody dared to be bigger than him. You are a stubborn man. I already told you, but you keep asking the question again and again. You say this [the report] is new, but it is always the same story. The world already knows who were the Democratic Kampuchea leaders. But they always come back with the same question. Who knows about this? [They] say the same story again and again. I decided to make national reconciliation - they should not come to dig up the same story again and make a new story again. It's not right.

Post: Aem Min alias Saen was sent to you in May 1977. Saen described how the local authorities followed the order of the zone leader to arrest the Khmer Republic officers and people evacuated from Phnom Penh. Did you know about the rule to 'smash and sweep' them?

Pauk: I don't know anyone called Saen. If they took the old confession from Tuol Sleng to research this case, it is not right and this is a fiction. You should think that all these documents are old. I can say this document is not true.

Post: How did you obey the order to arrest these people? And how to identify the enemy?

Pauk: Oh god, do you know, an order is an order - the top leader ordered us to do things, we must do it. Two days ago, an American woman came to interview me and asked me 'How did you recognize the enemy?' I told her that while the Americans bombed Cambodia for 200 days and nights, we knew the Americans were the enemy. Enemies were listed from the top and sent to me.

Post: During the Khmer Rouge time, I heard that there was some movement against the Khmer Rouge. Can you explain about this?

Pauk: Where were you born and where were you living during the KR?

Post: I was a young boy. I didn't know about this. Can you explain to me, please?

Pauk: In early 1977, there was some trouble - there were two positions: one was pro the east and another pro the west, so some measures to stop them were taken. Those who made trouble were taken for re-education. I did not know whether these people were right or wrong.

Post: According to one confession of Li Hak, chairman of a technical school, in May 1977 [there was a] list of 85 names that were crossed or underlined by you, and you decided that they should be arrested. How do you react to this?

Pauk: I don't know. Who says that? You should go and ask those people [who were arrested].

Post: In a telegram dated April 2, 1976, you identified [a man named] Cham as an ex-soldier of Lon Nol and a dissident cadre who participated in opposition activities. You reported that he was arrested and you promised to take measures against any opposition. How can you say today that you are not responsible for the arrest of cadre and ex-Khmer Republic soldiers?

Pauk: I don't know about this. I have never sent any telegrams to any people. This is not true. Why they are interested only about Cham? How about the numerous [other] Khmers who were killed.

Post: What do you think about this report?

Pauk: I reject the report. This document is fiction and has no clear base. You know the rule of the regime: listen to the top.

Post: What do you think about a Khmer Rouge tribunal?

Pauk: It is up to the government if it thinks it will benefit or harm the country. It is up to them to decide.

Post: Now in the world, [former leaders like] Milosevic, the former president of Yugoslavia... were sent to the international court. Are you concerned that yourself will be brought to a court like them?

Pauk: I have nothing to say. I saw on television the problem in the Philippines, Indonesia and Pinochet's case as well as Milosevic. It was complicated. I think that if Pol Pot was still alive, he would be the only person to stand trial because he was the man in charge. It should not spread to us.

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