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Witness was ‘buried up to neck’ under KR

Tak Sann (left) attends the hearing on civil party suffering at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
Tak Sann (left) attends the hearing on civil party suffering at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday. ECCC

Witness was ‘buried up to neck’ under KR

A Khmer Rouge tribunal civil party yesterday recalled being tortured twice under the Pol Pot regime, with cadres once burying her up to her neck as punishment for trying to escape from her children’s work unit to see her parents.

Just 6 years old when the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh in 1975, Iem Yem was one of two civil parties to testify yesterday afternoon about their suffering under the regime in Takeo province’s Tram Kak district.

The mother of seven told the court she was buried and starved by her work unit chief following one of her repeated attempts to flee and see her parents, whom she was only allowed to see a couple of times each month under the ultra-Maoist regime’s policy of forced labour for children.

“I missed my parents too much,” Yem recalled. “I was arrested and I was buried for a few hours, I was warned not to do such a thing again, otherwise I would be killed.”

She continued: “I was very hungry and I was very thirsty; I was buried up to my neck. I called for my parents’ help, but no one would come to help me.”

Yem, who said nothing could compare to being buried alive, which was the “greatest pain” she had experienced, also recalled another incident in which she was taken to a house, tied up and beaten after being spotted trying to take some cassava from an ox-cart.

“My legs were tied up and my hands were tied behind my back,” she said.

“They tied my hair to the window bar, I was thirsty during that time . . . I was so starved and hungry.

“After that, the chief of the unit brought in a whip or a bamboo stick and then they hit on my abdomen, and I was warned that next time, please do not go and steal something.”

Prior to Yem, civil party Tak San also testified about her suffering under the regime, recalling she was separated from her family and forced to work while her husband was taken away and killed.

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