Testimony from a civil party yesterday described mass killings in multiple provinces under the Khmer Rouge, and forced marriages where newlyweds were “monitored” to ensure they consummated the unions.
The civil party, whose name was withheld, said he was a Khmer Rouge soldier stationed in Prey Veng provincial town when Khmer Rouge troops from the West and Southwest zones attacked, seeking to eliminate the forces of purported traitor Sao Phim.
He said the town was shelled and soldiers and civilians were killed indiscriminately, including women and children.
The witness went on to describe other harrowing experiences following his escape from Prey Veng.“I was taken into a cow pen to be killed”, he said in reference to an incident in Pursat province.
Most of those gathered into the pen were slaughtered by guards with clubs, knives and guns, the civil party said, adding that he managed to escape in the turmoil. He also testified to being shot in the arm while escaping a firing squad on a different occasion.
The civil party said that he was forced to marry a woman he did not know in a brief ceremony with 60 other couples. “Angkar required that we get married”, he said, using the name, meaning “the organisation”, by which the Khmer Rouge referred to itself. “I did not dare protest.”
He confirmed that the newlyweds were expected to consummate the marriage or face unspecified punishment. “The company chief and village chief would deploy militiamen to monitor the newlywed couples,” he said.
The civil party went on to say that about 50 of his relatives were killed, including his extended family and in-laws. Only one member of his immediate family, a brother, survived.
“Sometimes I have insomnia. Sometimes my mind is not with me. I seem to get lost”, he told the court.
The prosecution later showed a video clip from the film Enemies of the People that shows former members of the Khmer Rouge saying that orders to commit mass murder came through a rigid hierarchy.
“Nothing I did was my own decision”, a former district chief identified as “Sister Em” said.
“Suon”, one of Sister Em’s subordinates, said: “I got the order from Khoun, Khoun got them from [Sister Em], Sister Em got it from the region chief, the region chief from his superior.”
The clip drew objections from both defence teams.The court is currently trying former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan and Communist Party of Kampuchea deputy head Nuon Chea for an assortment of crimes against humanity. The trial continues today.