The bureaucracy behind the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror in Takeo province’s Tram Kak district was laid out at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday, with the regime’s records revealing children as young as 10 were interrogated at security centres.
With the Tram Kak segment of Case 002/02 almost finished, the parties yesterday presented key documents related to the district and its security centre, Kraing Ta Chan, where thousands of prisoners were killed.
Dale Lysak said that the execution and interrogation records, prisoner lists and arrest orders showed “the systematic process by which people were arrested, interrogated and executed in Tram Kak”.
He said the papers highlighted the persecution of those evacuated into the countryside from Phnom Penh, known as “April 17 people” or “new people”, as well as ex-soldiers and officials of the previous Lon Nol regime. Many who fell into the latter category were purged from Tram Kak communes in early 1977, according to a flurry of correspondence between local cadres and district authorities read to the court.
People were also sent to Kraing Ta Chan for criticising the regime, complaining about the lack of food or burden of relentless work, stealing when hungry, attempting to flee or moving around too freely, the documents revealed.
Even children weren’t spared. In March 1977, Meng, the chief of Tram Kak district’s Ang Roka prison, wrote to his superiors about a 10-year-old prisoner was caught among a group
trying to flee.
“And in response to the reports from Meng on the 28th of March 1977 [the] then district chief Kit directed Kraing Ta Chan chief [Ta] An to interrogate this spy in detail,” Lysak said.
Lysak also related the separate interrogations of two 13-year-old boys, the first arrested while searching for his siblings after his parents died and the second the son of a former Lon Nol-regime colonel, arrested for stealing coconuts and melons to eat.
Lysak said minor offences often led to torture and executions. Among those killed was a man who failed to get permission before seeing his grandmother and another man whose reason for arrest read: “This person was free spirited and overjoyed, failing to respect organisational discipline”.