Former Khmer Rouge commune chief Yun Kim broke into smiles throughout his testimony at the tribunal yesterday as he recounted how he had routinely disregarded harsh commands and lied to his superiors during the regime to protect those villagers under his authority.
He recounted concealing villagers’ ties to the Lon Nol regime, and one instance during a district meeting when a former primary school principal had been singled out as an anti-revolutionary – a traitor to the regime.
“I told them [my superiors] that he . . . wouldn’t live long anyway,” the obliging 80-year-old said. “He survived for three decades after that.”
Yun Kim said that he was chastised by his superiors for failing to report enough enemies of the state.
“Personally, I found it difficult to report about the enemy situation, because I did not have any enemies to report about,” he said.
He also testified that he put an end to the culture of villagers accusing other villagers.
“I stopped everyone from reporting on one another, because after all, everyone would be killed, and it wouldn’t do anyone any good,” he said.
When asked if he feared for his life by going against the higher leadership’s directives, Yun Kim said that he didn’t consider his actions to be strictly insubordinate, it was just his way of doing a good job.
“In principle, as the commune committee, I had to listen to the orders rendered from the upper echelon, but I noted that if parts of the order were too harsh to be implemented, I would try to ease this burden,” he said. “Because the upper echelon was not the one who was close to the situation, as I was, so I was the one who would know whether things would work.”
Yun Kim also testified yesterday that the establishment of the communist regime’s co-operatives was carried out according to direct instructions from Nuon Chea, which he disseminated in a meeting with Kratie’s Autonomous Sector 505 commune chiefs in 1973, two years before the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh.
“At the time, Nuon Chea called a meeting to give directions about the establishment of co-operatives . . . He said that we should not be too anxious to create the [stricter] co-operatives straightaway,” said Yun Kim.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart White at [email protected]