Subscribe Search

Search form

KRT witness tells court of forced marriage

Nuon Chea adjusts his glasses during Case 002/02 opening statements
Nuon Chea adjusts his glasses during Case 002/02 opening statements at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in October. ECCC

KRT witness tells court of forced marriage

A witness yesterday told the Khmer Rouge tribunal how she believed she would be executed if she didn’t consummate her forced marriage to a man she hardly knew.

Cheang Srei Mom said a militiaman was dispatched to eavesdrop on her and her husband’s first night together after their wedding, which she claimed was involuntary and arranged by her commune chief in Takeo province’s Tram Kak district.

“I had to sleep with my husband because I would be in danger if I did not,” the 59-year-old said.

In the current Case 002/02, former Khmer Rouge leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea face, among other offences, charges over their regime’s policy of forced marriage and the subsequent rape it engendered.

Srei Mom said that in May 1977 she was summoned “urgently” to the commune office.

There she found her work unit chief, who declared “Angkar will marry you tonight”, she told the court, quoting the name used by the Khmer Rouge to refer to their overall organisation.

Srei Mom said the arranged groom, to whom she is still married, was also ignorant of the match, having been summoned on the pretext of herding cows.

She said she initially hated her husband, who she only knew “to some extent”, although they now lived “harmoniously” and have three children.

Chea’s international lawyer Victor Koppe challenged Srei Mom, reading a statement from her work unit chief denying there were forced marriages on her watch.

But Srei Mom maintained she was forced, adding another couple had been punished with hard labour for refusing to consummate their arranged marriage.

“My understanding was that if I did not consummate the marriage, I would be in trouble because my father had been executed just two days before, so I feared for my life,” she said.

She said she confirmed her father’s fate in 2013 upon visiting the site of the Kraing Ta Chan security office and finding his name in records of its thousands of victims.

Srei Mom said she saw former members of the Lon Nol regime being sent to the prison as well as truckloads of Cambodians who pretended to be Vietnamese in a bid to be deported.

The trial continues on Monday.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Apparel groups including H&M and Gap urge Cambodia garment industry reform, seek meeting with Hun Sen

    A group representing some of the largest apparel brands in the US and Europe – including Gap, H&M and ASOS – expressed “growing concern” on Tuesday over several controversial labour laws and ongoing court cases against unionists described as restrictive and unjust. In an open letter

  • Cambodia, states clash at UN session

    Cambodia traded shots with the international community in a heated exchange at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday evening, with states condemning the Kingdom’s ongoing crackdown on the political opposition and civil society, and an increasingly agitated Cambodia accusing member states