The sun was blazing high in the sky, and we could hear the sound of gun-fire as
we climbed Mountain 200 near Anlong Veng. It was May 1998, and government forces
had secured the former Khmer Rouge stronghold only three days earlier.
Managing Editor Peter Sainsbury and I had decided to follow a group of them into
some abandoned houses of senior KR. The soldiers, in ancient tradition, were looking
for loot. We were simply curious.
After ransacking one house, the soldiers threw away three battered Thai-made exercise
books and several sheets of documents. I picked up one and flicked through it.
It detailed the Khmer Rouge's killing of a government delegation led by the then
second deputy governor of Siem Reap, Hem Bunleng. I grabbed the others and found
they contained minutes of meetings between June 1997 and January 1998. I tucked the
books and documents in my bag and we headed off.
The following day Peter and I arrived in Siem Reap. After dinner I pulled the books
out of my bag and started reading. One was filled with detailed notes about the KR's
plan to join the anti-government National United Front along with Funcinpec and Sam
Rainsy. As I translated the words to Peter, he grew more excited and began pacing
around the bedroom.
Most of the night was spent uncovering new details in the KR Papers, as they were
later dubbed by the Post. Despite the weariness of the day's journey, we forgot our
exhaustion and kept reading. The next day we returned to O'Bai Tap, where senior
KR who had recently defected from Ta Mok confirmed the authenticity of the papers.
The notebooks, they said, were minutes of meetings between Ta Mok and his followers
in Anlong Veng, after he had arrested and put Pol Pot on trial. Of all the stories
I covered-and there were many that were memorable-it is this one that will remain
uppermost in my mind.
óSaroeun started at the Post as office manager in 1997 and was promoted to
reporter from 1998 to 2002.