Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Capital’s evacuation described as chaotic

Capital’s evacuation described as chaotic

Capital’s evacuation described as chaotic


A witness and a civil party offered two different perspectives at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday on the evacuation of Phnom Penh in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge’s victory in April, 1975.

First, railway worker Sok Chhin told of the transfer of people through a way station at Leach, in Pursat province, describing trains carrying about 1,000 people at a time passing through his work area, dropping some passengers there to be interviewed on their personal history and transferred to other work sites, and carrying others to work sites in Battambang province.

“There were different kinds of people from different age groups: old, young, sick people,” the 67-year-old, who spent the better part of the day matter-of-factly recounting what he saw as a railroad repair worker on a 21-kilometre stretch of track in Pursat, said. 

“They would be there for a few days, or even a week, before they could be transferred to other locations.”

According to Chhin, the wait treated some better than others, with several of those in transit dying after disembarking at Leach.

“I myself buried the dead bodies, because the bodies along the railway tracks decomposed,” he said, adding later that the stench prevented people working.

Chhin finished his testimony in the afternoon, and civil party Lay Bunny took the stand to give her own account of the exodus from Phnom Penh.

“I was pregnant at that time,” she said, describing the mood the city as “chaotic”.  

“There were rockets launched over the Cambodiana Hotel, so my mother did not send me to the hospital because she was afraid we would [be separated].

“She asked a midwife, the traditional midwife, to come and deliver the baby...  I had to sustain long labour pains. Unfortunately, my baby died before it was born.”

Bunny blamed the loss of her child on a lack of professional medical care, but she had not even fully recovered when she was forced to leave the city 20 days later by way of a road crowded with sick people – some still bed-ridden – who had ben forced out of a nearby hospital.

The road, she said, was dotted with dead bodies.

“We asked what happened to them, and we were told that they had wanted to go back and they were shot.”

Bunny’s testimony will continue today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart White at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman