Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Duo describe site’s brutality




Duo describe site’s brutality

Duo describe site’s brutality

A survey technician and a former village chief tasked to work at the notorious “January 1” dam site in Kampong Thom province told the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday about the appalling working conditions at the site, which drove people to exhaustion and near death.

Pech Sokha, who testified via video link, was specifically brought from Phnom Penh by the regime along with three others to work as a surveying technician. The dam was meant to provide “agricultural irrigation for the nearby rice fields”, he said, but the dam’s projected benefits were overshadowed by the excessive labour that workers had to endure at the site.

“The overall image was that it was a happy act, but in reality, everything was horrible,” Sokha said. “The food was insufficient and the manual labour was hard . . . but no one dared to complain.” Sokha worked on the dam from its inauguration in early 1977 until a few months into 1978.

He never witnessed anyone die from starvation during his time at the site, but said he saw two people from his surveying team disappear.

“They were summoned by Angkar with a handwritten letter that they showed me and never returned. I assumed they were dead, because I never saw them again,” Sokha said.

Former Prey Sra Ngae village chief Or Ho also continued answering questions from the defence. Ho, who said he was later removed from his post due to Angkar’s “lack of trust” in him, spoke about the experiences of the 100-person unit he helped supervise.
“We were not allowed to let the workers take a rest,” Ho said. “If he or she could not really work, we asked them to work slowly.”

Workers who were unable to work due to sicknesses were transported to mobile hospitals located at the worksite and to district hospitals if their conditions worsened.

Ho said he counted himself lucky for not befalling the same fate as other leaders sacked by the Khmer Rouge. “I have no idea why they lost trust in me,” he said. “From most of those who were removed by Angkar, very few survived. But I was not sent for re-education.”

Sokha will continue his testimony today.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Hun Sen: Lakes filled in for national developments

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced continued operations to fill some lakes in Phnom Penh to create land for developments, though he is against the unrelated practice of damming rivers or blocking waterways. Speaking at the inauguration of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport

  • Koh Preus upgrades 70% complete

    Initial construction of a nearly $30 million tourism infrastructure project on Preah Sihanouk province’s Koh Preus Island is “about 70 per cent complete”, according to an official with the developer. Heng Thou, construction site manager of Angela Real Estate Co Ltd (ARE), told The Post that

  • Local media loses a giant, and The Post a great friend

    Cheang Sokha, a gifted and streetwise reporter who rose to the highest ranks of Cambodian media and was beloved for his sharp intelligence, world-class humour and endless generosity, died on Friday in his hometown of Phnom Penh. He was 42. His wife, Sok Sophorn, said he