THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
Vol. 8; No. 2 January 22- February 4 1999
HIM Huy is known in his village as a kind man. When he has the
opportunity, he says he does good work and helps out his neighbours.
But 20 years ago his assistance was the touch of death.
44-year-old farmer is the side of the Khmer Rouge regime that has
almost become overlooked recently as the focus concentrates on debate
over international tribunals for KR leaders.
Huy joined the KR
in the beginning of 1973. He was later transferred to Tuol Sleng as a
prison guard and was soon made head of a security group. Purges within
the torture center meant rapid promotion was possible and by 1977 he
was appointed deputy chief of security.
He says he tried to keep
his past hidden from neighbours, but they found out in 1984 when he was
arrested for his involvement in the KR.
Historian and KR expert
Steve Heder, speaking about the lower-level cadre generally, says many
of them may have a defense of being forced in their actions.
"Most of the KR were recruited under a false flag. They didn't join up to commit crimes against humanity," he says.
Huy says his job was to receive prisoners, record their names, then transport them to the killing fields.
then checked the names and waited while the prisoners were killed,
usually with a blow to the head with an axle from an ox cart. The
corpses were dropped in a pit.
He says sometimes he and the
other guards recognised friends or relatives among the prisoners but
they could do nothing to help them.
"I saw the killing with my own eyes and I knew if I was arrested they would also kill me."
He believes it is not a bad idea to put the KR leaders on trial, saying they are the people truly responsible for the crimes.
for him that is someone else's problem and he has no intention of
getting involved. "I'm not going to be the witness at the KR trial
because what I have said is enough."