Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chams recall horror inflicted by Angkar

Chams recall horror inflicted by Angkar

Civil party Meu Peou gives testimony before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday during Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. ECCC
Civil party Meu Peou gives testimony before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday during Case 002/02 against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. ECCC

Chams recall horror inflicted by Angkar

Two Cham Muslim men revealed harrowing details of their suffering under the Democratic Kampuchea regime at the Khmer Rouge tribunal yesterday.

Civil party Meu Peou, who was only 13 or 14 when the Khmer Rouge came to power, told the court how he had lost 17 members of his family.

He said his uncle was accused of betraying Angkar – the term, meaning “the organisation”, by which the Khmer Rouge referred to itself – and was arrested and tortured.

“He was chopped into pieces alive and his body was salted,” Peou said.

The Cham were singled out under the Khmer Rouge for their distinct language and culture, and adherence to Islam. Their alleged genocide is one the most serious charges being examined in the current Case 002/02.

Peou yesterday described the pain of losing his father to a slow starvation, after his father – a devout Muslim – refused to eat pork.

“I think it would [have been] better if they were to kill him and not let him suffer.”

Under questioning from pro-secution and defence lawyers, Peou also detailed how the Khmer Rouge imprisoned him, killed people in front of him and separated Cham families.

“We lost our own identity, we lost our own religion,” Peou said. “This kind of suffering was like a shadow following me every day.”

Later in the day, civil party Man Sles, from Kampong Cham province, said his father and other religious leaders were arrested, and his community was forbidden to pray or read the Koran, which prompted the Cham to rebel.

“We came to understand we no longer could survive … We had to resist for the survival of our religion,” Sles said.

Questioning co-defendants Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, Sles asked why their regime considered Islam “reactionary” or “feudalist”. “Why did the Khmer Rouge hate Cham people?” he asked, receiving no response.

At the end of the day, civil party Sieng Chanthy began relating the psychological harm she suffered after her ethnically Vietnamese father committed suicide under Pol Pot’s rule.

Chanthy said her father hanged himself from a tree with a krama after two Vietnamese families in their village were taken away, and two daughters from those families were raped.

“My father committed suicide because he wanted all of us to survive,” she said.

The alleged genocide of the Vietnamese is also being tried in the current case. Chanthy will continue her testimony today.

MOST VIEWED

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • We’re going to Wisney World!

    More than 6,000 mostly Chinese attendees witnessed the inauguration ceremony of a $1 billion Sihanoukville resort project called Wisney World in the capital on Wednesday. The event on Koh Pich, attended by several senior Cambodian government officials, is a joint venture between China’s AMC International and

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,

  • Gov’t continues China tilt as ties with the US slide on ‘interference’ in Kingdom’s internal affairs

    CHINA has granted some $131 million in aid to the Cambodian military. It comes as yet another sign that the Kingdom is strengthening strategic ties with its Asian neighbour to counter increasingly cold relations with the United States. The aid was announced as part of a