Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Former monks recall defrocking under Khmer Rouge



Former monks recall defrocking under Khmer Rouge

The protected Witness 2-TCW-913 testifies before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday in Phnom Penh. ECCC
The protected Witness 2-TCW-913 testifies before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia yesterday in Phnom Penh. ECCC

Former monks recall defrocking under Khmer Rouge

Two former monks who were forced to sacrifice their beliefs at the altar of the Khmer Rouge’s hardline ideals told the tribunal yesterday that they narrowly escaped execution.

The first witness, identified only as 2-TCW-913 in order to protect the integrity of ongoing investigations, said he became a monk in 1973 but was forced to defrock as part of the Khmer Rouge’s social project to abolish religion.

The witness testified that after 1975 he was sent to Borei Keila, where senior leaders including Case 002/02 defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were said to conduct study sessions.

He was first tasked with raising pigs and poultry but was later made a cook, a job that required him to taste-test the food for poison.

“I was never poisoned or felt ill . . . It was a precaution, because if any of the guests died, it means we would die, too,” he said.

The witness was later rounded up as an East Zone “enemy” and forced to endure hard labour. “We were called to be ‘tempered’,” he said. “To be tempered means to make us . . . become weak.”

In protest of the scarcity of rice, he and 50 others arrested their superior and took him to a nearby office. They were then summoned to a meeting where the situation became “chaotic” and Khmer Rouge cadre began to tie their hands with blue scarves.

For 13 days and nights, they were tortured. Then they were taken to a mountain to be killed. “I was hit by a few clubs on my head but somehow I survived,” he said. He found another survivor and they untied each others’ bonds.

“We used the mud to put it on our wounds . . . I had to drink my own urine in order to survive,” the witness said.

In the afternoon session, a civil party identified only as 2-TCCP-235 said he, too, was defrocked by the Khmer Rouge and pressed into military service in the push to take Phnom Penh in 1975.

Fearing the retribution he knew Lon Nol’s army would face, he immediately began looking for his elder brother – a pilot in the former Khmer Republic – to warn him to don civilian clothes and claim to be a worker.

The civil party said he was briefly suspected of being a traitor and was tortured with electric shocks, but avoided near-certain execution by convincing his torturers he was unwavering in his allegiance.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Cintri strike ends, workers’ contracts to be terminated

    CINTRI (Cambodia) Ltd rubbish collectors who have been on strike for the past 13 days agreed to return to work starting Wednesday evening after the company agreed to terminate their contracts at the end of January next year and provide seniority payments and other benefits to

  • Inmates evacuated, schools closed as flooding takes toll

    Thousands of students in Battambang province missed school while over 1,000 prisoners in Banteay Meanchey province were evacuated because of rain-induced floods in the past few days. Yi Songky, director of the provincial Department of Education, Youth and Sport, said floods affected 316 schools in Battambang. Over 200