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Biography of a mass murderer

Biography of a mass murderer

Ta Mok is in the back row, second from left between the portraits of Marx and Engels in this pre-1975 photo. Pol Pot stands to the right of Lenin.


ung Choeun, alias Ta 15, alias Chhit Choeun, alias Ngon Kang, alias Ta Mok.

1926 (?): Born in Pra Keap village, Trapeang Thom commune, Tram Kak district, Takeo


** Eldest of seven children. Father, Oung Preak, was monk till age 40, then teacher

in Phnom Penh. Mother Ouk Soch, who was part-Chinese. Parents were middle-class,

compared with the local people.

** Studied from young age at local Wat and then became a monk, moved to Wat Mohamontrey

in Phnom Penh.

** c 1940: Aged 16, left monkhood. Returned from Phnom Penh, married cousin Ouk Khem

and farmed the land.

** c 1947: Daughter Khom born.

** Feb 1949: disappeared, leaving wife and daughter, to join Khmer Issarak independence

movement fighting the French.

** Became an Issarak guerrilla leader in Kampong Speu and Tram Kak district, Takeo.

Three more children (Mok returned at times to his village to see his wife)

** 1954: Cambodian Independence. Mok went back to the monkhood in Kampong Speu province,

secretly continuing political activities.

** Early 1960s: reportedly got an elementary-level Pali school degree at Phnom Penh's

Buddhist Institute, the Higher School of Pali at Wat Ounalom, and became a lay teacher

for monks. Probably met Saloth Sar (Pol Pot) at this time in Phnom Penh.

** 1960: Mok may have been present at the famous September 30-October 2 secret meeting

at/near the Phnom Penh Railway Station of 21 Khmer communists, where a new "central

committee" was appointed, including Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and others

who reigned over the 1975-79 Democratic Kampuchea regime.

** 1963: Joins CPK Central Committee.

** 1966: Southwest Zone CPK Secretary.

** 1968: Probably named 'Mok' by KR this year (possibly by Pol Pot).

** 1968: CPK Secretary (Head) of Southwest Zone (initially Takeo, Kampot, Kampong

Chhnang, Koh Kong, Kampong Speu). Involved in many purges of KR 'moderates'.

** 1972: Ordered the first attacks on Cham culture and customs in the country.

** 1973-74: Four 'moderates' of the eight leaders of the Southwest's ruling committee

were purged by the Party Centre. Mok probably had two of them murdered himself, including

Deputy Secretary of SW Zone Prasith, Mok's rival. Mok became a closer ally of Pol

Pot after this.

** March, 1974: Mok's and Kae Pauk's troops capture Oudong and force 20,000 civilians

into countryside to be killed or used for forced labor.

** By 1975: had cemented his power in a virtual dynasty by making 13 of his relatives

officials (two brothers-in-law, four sons, two daughters, and five sons-in-law. His

daughter Khom [died 1977 from illness] was Communist Party secretary in Mok's birthplace

of Tram Kak district, her husband Meas Muth was commander of the DK navy in Kampong

Som, and the rest were district, region or army divisional chiefs).

** 1975-77: Mok's forces massacred thousands of Khmer Krom in SW Zone and then later

in purges they conducted in other zones. He was the first and biggest persecutor

of the Khmer Krom.

** 1976: Built himself a grandiose three-story HQ and home on an island near Takeo.

Some locals say he hid gold in it and had all the workers killed after it was finished.

This photo was supplied to the Post by a Khmer Rouge defector who said it was taken by a KR general not long before Ta Mok was arrested in 1999. The man on Ta Mok's right was identified as Fu Xuexhang, China's Ambassador to Thailand accredited in 1997 and previously to Cambodia, and the woman on the right as Madame Chang, seen that year at the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh.

** 1976: Became First Vice President of (CPRA) Standing Committee (Nuon Chea was

President). Now ranked No 4 in DK after Pol Pot, Nuon Chea and Eastern Zone secretary

Sao Pheum (Phim), although DK top hierarchy remains ambiguous.

** 1977: Commander in Chief of DK Army

** 1978: Ranked No 3 in DK after Phim purged.

** 1978: Dispatched to Eastern Zone to conduct a brutal purge.

** 1978: Mok's parents and his two brothers, Chong and Cham, died after fleeing into

the jungle from the Vietnamese onslaught into DK.

** Dec 1978: Linked [by Ben Kiernan] to at least one of the many massacres by panicked

KR, that killed thousands of people, as Vietnamese troops poured across the border.

Thousands of others forced to walk for miles toward Thailand, with little or no food,

many perishing along the way.

** 1978: After Vietnamese invasion became Supreme Military Commander of remnants

of KR in Anlong Veng.

** By 1983: In Anlong Veng. His hatred of the Vietnamese had become paramount and

he claimed the deaths under Pol Pot were "done by Vietnamese agents."

** Loses leg. Conflicting reports on date and reason. Sister says tractor accident;

other reports say land mine.

** By the end of the 1980s, an estimated 80 percent of Mok's troops were new recruits

who had not served in the DK regime.

** Effectively controlled 70-to-80 percent of the DK army's troops, and certainly

the best ones.

** Several years before c 1992 (when sister Poun visited him: Wife died and defectors

claimed he remarried a KR commander's widow and had a child.

** 1992: Reinforced as KR's strongest military commander when Son Sen was demoted

and his troops handed over to Mok. Mok almost certainly remained loyal to Pol Pot

until 1996.

** 1996: dispatched with Son Sen and Nuon Chea to Pailin to quell breakaway revolt

led by Ieng Sary, and possibly to kill Sary. On return Pol Pot blamed Ta Mok for

failing to solve the situation. Pot tried to institute his own military structure,

starting to replace Mok loyalists. He may have tried to have Mok killed in late 1996.

** (c)1996: Like Sary, Mok began to favor integration with the Phnom Penh government,

while retaining considerable autonomy. Supported talks with Funcinpec commanders.

Ta Mok, center, at the wedding of his daughter and son-in-law, (on his left) probably in Thailand.

** June 1997: Son Sen and his wife Yun Yat murdered on Pol Pot's orders, because

Son Sen favoured integration with the government and was seen by Pol Pot as a traitor.

Mok feared he was to be next. Mok rebelled and captured Pol Pot. Discussed with other

cadre about executing Pol Pot. Becomes new "Brother No 1".

** July 25 1997: Organised show trial of Pol Pot. Later Ta Mok and Pol Pot were interviewed

separately by Nate Thayer. Unrepentant, Mok chuckled as he debated whether the KR

killed millions of people or just "hundreds of thousands". Claimed he had

only killed Vietnamese.

** 1997: Apparently willing to negotiate with government until Hun Sen's July coup,

because he considered Hun Sen "Vietnamese".

** April/May, 1998: Final gathering of the remaining units of the Khmer Rouge. Sought

safety with small band of followers in the dense forests on Thai border. Mok was

offered amnesty by the government, but remained the only KR leader to reject all

such deals.

** March 6, 1999: arrested just inside Thai territory. Imprisoned in Phnom Penh.

Accused of breaking the 1984 law banning the Khmer Rouge Movement.

** August 1999: Cambodian Parliament passed a law allowing the trial of Ta Mok to

be postponed for up to three years.

** September 1999: formally accused of genocide.

** January 2001: hospitalized with problems related to high blood pressure.

** February 2001: commission set up to oversee Mok's health.

** July 2001: War Crimes Research Office, American University, publishes Seven Cases

for Prosecution by Stephen Heder and Brian Tittemore. Report notes "significant

evidence that Ta Mok ... played a central role in implementing the Communist Party's

execution policies."

** November 2001: Since under Cambodian legislation Mok could not be imprisoned longer

than March 2002, Hun Sen declared he would ask parliament to prolong Mok's detention

period to await the opening of the KR trials.

** February 2002: Indicted with crimes against humanity, which legally prolonged

his detention.

** May, 2003: UN approved setting up of ECCC.

** October, 2004: Cambodian National Assembly ratified this treaty, and it was proclaimed

law by the King.

** June, 2006: Enters military hospital.

**July 21, 2006: Died in Phnom Penh's Preah Khet Mealea Military Hospital.


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