How much did Ieng Sary know about Toul Sleng? New York Times corespondent
Henry Kamm asked the DNUM chief that question some years ago. In his recently published
book Cambodia: report from a stricken land, Kamm quotes Sary on the S-21 torture
center: "I thought it was a reeducation center, and after reeducation people
would be sent back. But later I noticed they didn't come back. I knew people were
accused there without justification. I don't know if Pol Pot knew. Only two people
knew for certain, because they must have been there: Nuon Chea, who was responsible
in the party for security, and Son Sen, who was responsible for state security."
What about starvation in the countryside? Kamm asked about that too and when did
Sary find out? He replied: "From my children, in 1976. All four lived in communes
around Phnom Penh and were often sent to the countryside to gather herbs for traditional
medicines. They came to me and said, 'Papa, people are dying of hunger. They are
eating gruel, not rice.' I confronted Pol Pot, not at a meeting but in tete-a-tete
and questioned him. He said I was against the regime. From then on, whenever I came
back from a foreign trip...I asked myself, 'Will I go home or to (S-21)?'"
** Was the US trade delegation visit a high-profile VIP affair? You
bet. They made a side trip to Siem Reap to check out the temples. With the size
and seriousness of the advance security party at Angkor Wat, local hawkers thought
the Prime Minister had come to town. Vendors were hustled out of the way and pesky
kids given a whack on the head to get them moving. The next morning two of the delegation
went for a jog, with a truckload of AK-toting security and four escort cars in tow.
** Burma still likes the idea of throttling the press and manages to
get away with it. The defections of Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan made banner headlines
in the New Light of Myanmar and other media outlets. The arrest and detention of
General Pinochet in London didn't get a mention.
** If you like Jazz and Blues, guess what? There's a new club in town offering
both. Check out the Mata Hari Club just behind the Riverside Bistro.