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Tales of love lost as KRT probes forced marriage

Civil party 2-TCCP-232 testifies at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Phnom Penh yesterday. ECCC
Civil party 2-TCCP-232 testifies at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in Phnom Penh yesterday. ECCC

Tales of love lost as KRT probes forced marriage

A former policeman yesterday told the Khmer Rouge tribunal he was forced to separate from his fiancée and marry another woman under the regime. The civil party, known only as 2-TCCP-232, cried as he spoke of his thwarted love.

“We loved each other with our hearts .. . we hoped that in the future, we would live together as husband and wife,” the civil party said. “My love for her could not be described in words.”

Civil parties are individuals whom the court recognises were harmed by the events in the case. It is currently hearing evidence in the second part of the case against the two surviving Khmer Rouge leaders: Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

2-TCCP-232 told the court he had worked as a policeman in Phnom Penh during the 1970-75 Lon Nol regime, and reminisced how he and his fiancée would ride their bicycles together at that time.

When the capital was forcibly emptied of its population in April 1975, he and his fiancée were separated and ordered to join male and female work units.

“If we had a relationship with each other, especially a love relationship, the unit chief would not spare us. We would be smashed,” he said, using the regime’s term for execution.

The civil party also kept secret his former role for fear he would be killed. He said he was forbidden from marrying the woman he loved because her brother had been accused of making a mistake against Angkar – the faceless, anonymous “organisation”.

Later, his unit chief approached him and said Angkar had arranged a family for him. “I was quiet when the unit chief told me . . . I did not dare to refuse,” he said.

Although some of the 50 couples at the mass marriage were paired with someone they had feelings for, he had never seen his wife before. “Although the marriage took place, it was out of force. There was no love involved at all,” he said.

He said the pair were monitored to ensure they consummated their marriage; when questioned by militiamen, he said he was too exhausted from forced labour and meagre rations to have intercourse.

The civil party said he and his wife remained together after 1979 due to pressure from their families, but he never forgot his first love. After the collapse of the regime, he briefly sighted his former fiancée.

“I took her hand and I held her. Each of us wept and we told each other in this life we needed to make good merit . . . maybe in our previous life we did not make good merit,” he said.

“I felt so sorrowful that I could not marry my fiancée whom I loved . . . It was like the fruit was just about ripe and it was picked and taken away from me, and I had no right to protest that.”

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